Betty Hutton Biography

Elizabeth June Thornburg, 26 February 1921, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, d. 11 March 2007, Palm Springs, California, USA. A dynamic and vivacious singer and actress, while still a small child Hutton began singing in the streets to help support her impoverished family. By her early teens she was already beginning to make a name for herself when she was hired by Vincent Lopez, then leader of a popular radio band. In 1940, by then known as ‘The Blonde Bombshell’ in recognition of her fizzing vitality, Hutton appeared on Broadway in Panama Hattie, and the following year was snapped up by Hollywood. During the 40s she appeared in a string of popular musicals including Star Spangled Rhythm, Happy Go Lucky, Let’s Face It!, And The Angels Sing, Here Comes The Waves, Incendiary Blonde, Duffy’s Tavern, The Stork Club, Cross My Heart, The Perils Of Pauline, Dream Girl and Red Hot And Blue. However, it was her sensational performance in the title role of Annie Get Your Gun in 1950 that established her as a major star. It gained her an international reputation, which she enhanced with roles in Let’s Dance (1950), The Greatest Show On Earth and Somebody Loves Me (both 1952).

Subsequent contractual difficulties with the studio resulted in Hutton’s career coming to an abrupt halt, and although she made a brief appearance in the 1957 film Spring Reunion, she was declared bankrupt in 1967. The same year, the last of her four marriages, to trumpeter Pete Candoli, ended in divorce, and after suffering a nervous breakdown and problems with drugs and alcohol, she worked for several years as a cook and housekeeper in a rectory in Portsmouth, Long Island. She made a triumphant comeback in 1980 when she took over the role of Miss Hannigan in the hit Broadway musical Annie. Later, she enrolled as a student at a New England college, before settling in Los Angeles. Her sister, Marion, two years her senior, was also a singer who worked with Glenn Miller’s civilian band. In 1994 Capitol Records issued a collection of some of her most entertaining tracks, and a year later ex-Sugarcubes lead singer Björk included one of Hutton’s specialities, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, on her Post album.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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