Betty Grable & Her Million Dollar Legs

Betty Grable In Color
Betty Grable was a 1940s movie star known for having the best legs in Hollywood

She was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Betty was the youngest of three children (her brother died before she was born). By the age of five she was taking tap dancing and saxophone lessons. Her ambitious mother, Lillian Grable, was determined to make her a star. They moved Hollywood and Betty was often forced to lie about her age to get work. At the age of twelve she made her film debut in the 1929 musical Happy Days. She was chosen to be one of the Goldwyn Girls and got small roles in movies like The Gay Divorcee and Pigskin Parade. Betty married former child star Jackie Coogan in November 1937. They divorced just two years later. In 1939 she starred on Broadway in the musical DuBarry Was A Lady. The beautiful blonde was offered a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her first starring role was in the 1940 technicolor musical Down Argentine Way. It was a huge success and she became one of Hollywood’s hottest actresses.

Betty Grable
Betty GrableBetty Grable
More hit films followed including Moon Over Miami, Pin-Up Girl, and The Dolly Sisters. She fell in love with bandleader Artie Shaw and was devastated when he eloped with nineteen-year old Lana Turner. To make matters worse Betty discovered she was pregnant and had to have an abortion. Then she started an affair with married actor George Raft but ended the relationship when he could not get a divorce from his wife.  Betty also had brief romances with Tyrone Power, Desi Arnaz, and Victor Mature. In 1943 photographer Frank Powolny took a pin-up picture of her posing in white bathing suit while looking over her shoulder. The photo made her the most popular pin-up girl of World War 2. As a publicity stunt her legs were insured for one million dollars. She married bandleader Harry James on July 5, 1943. The couple had two daughters – Victoria and Jessica. Betty and Harry shared a love of horse racing and they bought several horses. By 1948 she was the highest paid woman in America. She co-starred with Dan Dailey in My Blue Heaven and with Marilyn Monroe in How To Marry A Millionaire.

Betty GrableBetty Grable Magazine
Betty Grable With Her Poodle

Despite all of her success she was growing tired of Hollywood and decided to stop making movies. Her final film was the 1955 musical How To Be Very, Very Popular. Betty later worked in Las Vegas and starred in a Broadway production of Hello Dolly. She also made occasional appearances on television shows like The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour. During the 1960s she appeared in commercials for Geritol and Playtex. Unfortunately her marriage to Harry was unhappy due to his drinking and cheating. The couple divorced in 1965 after twenty-two years together. Soon after she began dating a young dancer named Bob Remick. Betty was a heavy smoker who often smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. Sadly in 1972 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. On July 2, 1973. she died at the age of fifty-six. Although she had once been a millionaire she was nearly broke when she passed away. She is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Betty GrableBetty Grable
Betty Grable Funeral

Betty’s casket at funeral