Betty Furness

Active - 1932 - 1972  |   Born - Jan 3, 1916   |   Died - Apr 2, 1994   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy

Share on

It's very likely that Betty Furness would be forgotten today if she'd remained a film actress. The daughter of pioneering radio executive George Furness, she landed her first modeling job at 14 and an RKO-Radio film contract two years later. From 1932 through 1935, she appeared in a string of forgettable ingénue roles in Tom Keene Westerns and B-melodramas. She exhibited an unexpected flair for screwball comedy in the 1936 Hal Roach production Mister Cinderella, but wasn't able to capitalize on this career highlight and was out of pictures by 1939 (except for a cameo appearance as herself in 1957's A Face in the Crowd). She fared rather better on Broadway in the 1940s, and better still when she ventured into television in 1949. Though she still occasionally acted in the 1950s (she even starred in a "girl reporter" crime series), her TV fame rested securely on her work as a commercial spokesperson. She was most closely associated with the Westinghouse company, earning hundreds of thousand of dollars pitching kitchenware with the confident catch phrase, "You can be sure if it's Westinghouse." (It should be noted here that one of the most infamous bloopers in TV history, wherein a Westinghouse refrigerator door failed to open during a live commercial, did not happen to Furness as has often been claimed, but to another actress who was subbing for her.) During the Lyndon Johnson administration, Furness was appointed to several important executive positions in the field of Consumer Protection. While working as consumer affairs director at New York's NBC TV affiliate in 1974, she began a long association with The Today Show as consumer reporter/advocate -- a job that was terminated in 1992 when the powers-that-be callously decided that the ever-ebullient Furness "scanned old." Married three times, Betty Furness' first husband was Hollywood composer Johnny Green.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography