Her mother Octavia managed a sheet music store while her father, Curtis, worked as a travelling salesman. Her parents soon divorced because of Curtis' alcoholism and spendthrift ways and Octavia then married a former lover, only to leave him after discovering he was having a homosexual affair. In , a family friend arranged for her to meet famed dancer Martha Graham.
CinéFemme - Annakarinaland: Vibrant Betty Garrett Passes Away
Within a few years she was landing roles on Broadway, making her first big splash in Call Me Mister , a sketch comedy in which she sang the hit song South America, Take It Away. Soon, Hollywood came calling. In Garrett married actor Larry Parks, who had had success on screen in The Jolson Story , after a whirlwind four-month courtship during which he drove her to the top of legendary Mulholland Drive in Hollywood and proposed. The best man at their wedding was actor Lloyd Bridges.
Obituary: Actress Betty Garrett
South America, Take It Away Call Me Mister. Star of Stage and Screen. Out of Print.
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Similar Artists. Betty Garrett recalled that all her woes at home meant she was craving an alternative life, "and that life was the make-believe of the movies and theatre".
Although not Roman Catholic, she attended Catholic schools where she demonstrated a talent for dancing and acting. When Betty was 17, her ambitious mother took her to New York where she won a scholarship at the Neighbourhood Playhouse. In she joined the Communist Party. Her performance in this role, her biggest break to date, did not go unnoticed in Hollywood.
In January she signed a month contract with MGM. She joined an all-star cast including Judy Garland and June Allyson for Words and Music also , the fictionalised story of the songwriting partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen co-starred.
- A Life on Stage and Screen.
- Remembering Betty Garrett.
- Betty Garrett Biography ().
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As a result of the Hollywood blacklist Betty Garrett's career nosedived and she had to find jobs in summer repertory. The couple returned to London with the show on two further occasions.