Betty Garrett

Active - 1948 - 2011  |   Born - May 23, 1919 in St. Joseph, Missouri  |   Died - Feb 12, 2011   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical

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Biography by Rovi

As a teenager, American performer Betty Garrett won a scholarship to New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, and in 1938 she debuted onstage in the Mercury Theater production of Danton's Death. Later she danced with the Martha Graham company, sang in nightclubs and resort hotels, and held down odd jobs between engagements. In 1942 Garrett debuted on Broadway in the revue Let Freedom Ring, leading to other Broadway appearances. For her work in Call Me Mister she won the Donaldson Award in 1946, after which MGM signed her to a movie contract. She went on to make five musicals in the late '40s, impressing critics with her singing, dancing, and bright comic acting; as an energetic and effervescent second lead, she typically played the heroine's best friend. Garrett took two years off to give birth to two children; meanwhile, her husband, actor Larry Parks, admitted to the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had been a Communist. This ruined Garrett's screen career for several years, during which she and Parks appeared in a nightclub act and toured the U.S. with a play. In the mid-'50s she appeared in two more films and had the chance to renew her career; however, her husband was still blacklisted, so she chose to retire from the screen. She and Parks went on to work in stock and occasionally on TV, but they derived their income primarily from real estate. In the mid-'70s Garrett had a recurring role as Archie Bunker's neighbor on the TV sitcom All In the Family, and played landlady Edna Babish on Laverne and Shirley.

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