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Betty Grable

Real name: Elizabeth Ruth Grable
Birthdate: December 18, 1916
Status: Single
Partner: N/A

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Biography

Her sensational bathing-suit photo, with her head looking over her right shoulder, became the number-one pin-up girl of the WWII era. It was later included in Life 100 Photos that Changed the World.

Grable was best-known for her shapely legs, which were showcased in all of her 20th Century Fox Technicolor musicals and were famously insured by her studio for $1,000,000 per leg at Lloyds of London.

For her next film, her mother got her a contract using a false identification. When this deception was discovered, however, Grable was fired. Grable finally obtained a role as a 'Goldwyn Girl' in Whoopee! (1930), starring Eddie Cantor. Though Grable received no billing, she led the opening number, "Cowboys." Grable then worked in small roles at different studios for the rest of the decade, including the Academy Award-nominated The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The same year that she divorced Coogan, Grable obtained a contract with 20th Century Fox, becoming their top star throughout the decade, with splashy Technicolor movies such as Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941) (both with Don Ameche), Springtime in The Rockies (1942), Coney Island (1943) with George Montgomery , Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943) with Robert Young, Pin Up Girl (1944), Diamond Horseshoe (1945) with Dick Haymes, The Dolly Sisters (1945) with John Payne and June Haver, and her most popular film Mother Wore Tights (1947), with favorite costar Dan Dailey.

Her postwar musicals included That Lady in Ermine (1948) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) again with Dailey, Wabash Avenue (1950) (a remake of Grable's own Coney Island) with Victor Mature, My Blue Heaven (1950), and Meet Me After the Show (1951). Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck lavished his number one star with expensive Technicolor films, but also kept her busy — Grable made nearly twenty-five musicals/comedies in thirteen years. Grable's last big hit for Fox was How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe.

Grable's later career was marked by feuds with studio heads, who worked her to exhaustion. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Darryl F. Zanuck, she tore up her contract with him and stormed out of his office. Gradually leaving movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas.

She died of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Betty had been a heavy smoker, and often smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, thirty years to the day after her marriage to Harry James -- who, in turn, died on what would have been his and Grable's 40th anniversary, July 5, 1983. She is interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

Grable has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. She also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy noted on National Public Radio's Morning Edition on April 23, 2007, in an interview with Terry Gross that Betty was his inspiration for founding the Playboy empire.

Grable was known by many nicknames including "Box-Office Betty" and "The Girl With The Million Dollar Legs."



 


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