Betty Hutton biography
By Steve Starr
In 1945, while visiting a Chicago cafe she met a handsome, socially prominent camera manufacturer named Ted Briskin, and they married on September 3. They had two daughters, and an active social life.
Betty still adored being a movie star and having a constant social whirl with intense, nonstop activity. The couple moved from one house to the next, each one increasingly more lavish, a total of ten homes in five years. In 1950, she divorced Briskin, who was getting very tired of their frantic lifestyle.
In 1950, moviegoers named Hutton Best Actress in a Photoplay Magazine poll. Her film, Lets Dance, with co-star Fred Astaire premiered in Lansing, Michigan. The town gave her a celebration and a parade.
Her mother, forever by her side, was heard to say, "Well, at least this time the police are in front of us." That same year, Betty took over the lead role when Judy Garland was not able to continue filming Annie Get Your Gun. Twenty-seven years later Betty stated, "I didn't wish Judy Garland any harm, but that was my part from the beginning."
Referring to her future, Betty said, "I want to star in a Broadway show! And I'll do it too! Because when I tackle something new I get very nervous. And when I get nervous, brother, I can lift a building with my bare hands!" While filming The Greatest Show On Earth (1951) a Cecil B. DeMille circus spectacle loaded with visual excitement and gorgeous costumes which won the Oscar for Best Picture, co-starring James Stewart, Dorothy LaMour, Charlton Heston, and Gloria Grahame, Hutton injured an arm training as an aerialist. The pain pills she began to take changed her life. They too, were forever by her side.
In 1952, Hutton insisted that her second husband, choreographer Charles O'Curran, direct all her movies. Paramount thought she was joking. In a bitter dispute, Hutton walked out on her contract. Her movie stardom seemed to come to an abrupt end. Hollywood studios blackballed her. She opened an act at the Palace in New York, and at London's Palladium, both directed by Charles, and was well received. Vying for television exposure, the couple's egos clashed violently, and they divorced. Not long after, she married Capital recording executive Alan Livingston, a union lasting nine months until she divorced him on the grounds of mental cruelty. While barely recovering from her Livingston divorce, she married jazz trumpeteer Pete Candoli.
That year Betty told the press, "The only thing I can't do is ice skate. But sooner or later someone will come along with a picture that requires ice skates and…I'll learn."
In 1959, Hutton invested heavily in her own ill-fated television series The Betty Hutton Show, in which she played Goldie, a small town manicurist, previously a showgirl, who inherited wealth, a mansion, and three children. The series lasted one season. In 1962, on New Year's Day, her beloved mother died in a fire ignited by a smoldering cigarette in her Hollywood apartment, and in June of that year Hutton gave birth to her third daughter. In 1967, she divorced Candoli and filed for bankruptcy.
In 1974, Hutton left Hollywood to star in a small disastrous stage production of Annie Get Your Gun. She later checked herself into a Boston hospital lamenting "I don't want to live." There, she met a priest who offered her a job as a housekeeper in his small rectory. She soon was washing pans, and found solace in conversion to Catholicism.
Reporters heard of the situation, and they swooped down on the little vicarage, photographing Betty at the sink and serving coffee to the priests. The resultant publicity brought Hutton 35,000 fan letters, and a nervous breakdown. While she recovered at Butler Hospital, the priests asked her not to return. After three weeks, on New Year's Day, 1975, she checked out and disappeared from the public view for a couple of years. Hutton returned to school and earned a bachelors degree and a masters degree from Salve Regina University, where she later taught singing and acting classes. Eventually Hutton won minor roles on television, and granted interviews.
Some of Betty Hutton’s best films include The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Incendiary Blonde (1945), The Perils of Pauline (1947), and Somebody Loves Me (1952).
Marion Hutton, who also made a few Hollywood films, died in 1987. The remarkable Betty Hutton lived peacefully near Palm Springs for several years until her death form colon cancer, March 11, 2007.
Steve Starr is the author of Picture Perfect-Art Deco Photo Frames 1926-1946, published by Rizzoli International Publications. A photographer, designer and an artist, he is the owner of Steve Starr Studios, specializing in original Art Deco photo frames, furnishings, and jewelry, and celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2007. His personal collection of over 950 original Art Deco photo frames is filled with images of Hollywood’s most elegant stars.
Steve Starr’s column, STARRLIGHT, about movie stars of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s appears in various publications including Entertainment Magazine Online-EMOL.org/reporters/Starr, the Windy City Times, and the Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
Visit www.SteveStarrStudios.com where you can enter The Starrlight Room and view a portion of his frame collection, read Starrlight stories, and enjoy photos, letters, and autographs that he has received from his favorite luminaries.
Steve Starr is a Nightlife Photographer for Clubline Magazine and a photo contributor to various periodicals, as well as the House Photographer for the beautiful Rumba Nightclub and Restaurant, 351 West Hubbard Street in Chicago. STARRGAZERS-Radiant Photography by Steve Starr is available for portraits and events. Phone 773-463-8017 for further information and schedule. Photo of Steve Starr in Chicago, September 2, 2006, by Patrick Hipskind
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