Betty Garrett

Actor, Singer, Dancer
While her big break in film came with "On the Town" (1949) opposite Frank Sinatra, stage and screen actress Betty Garrett was more widely known to a younger generation as the landlady with a heart of gold on the comedy ... Read more »
Born: 05/22/1919 in St Joseph, Missouri, USA

Filmography

Actor (32)

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life 2012 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Grey's Anatomy 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

Trail of the Screaming Forehead 2006 (Movie)

Mrs. Cuttle (Actor)

Becker 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Boston Public 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Laverne & Shirley 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Ann Miller: I'm Still Here 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Union Square 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Harts of the West 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The Good Life 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Somerset Gardens 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Murder, She Wrote 1987 - 1988 (Tv Show)

Actor

Laverne and Shirley 1975 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

All the Way Home 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Mr. Merlin 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

All in the Family 1970 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Gene Kelly... An American in Pasadena 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Who's Happy Now? 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lloyd Bridges Show 1962 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

My Sister Eileen 1955 (Movie)

Ruth Sherwood (Actor)

On the Town 1949 (Movie)

(Actor)

Words and Music 1948 (Movie)

(Actor)

Neptune's Daughter (Movie)

Betty Barnett (Actor)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Movie)

Shirley Delwyn (Actor)

The Big City (Movie)

Miss Grady (Actor)

The Long Way Home (TV Show)

Actor

The Love Boat (TV Show)

Actor

Townies (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

While her big break in film came with "On the Town" (1949) opposite Frank Sinatra, stage and screen actress Betty Garrett was more widely known to a younger generation as the landlady with a heart of gold on the comedy series "Lavern & Shirley" (ABC, 1975-1983). After gaining acclaim on Broadway in musical comedies such as "Call Me Mister" (1946), she was soon under contract with MGM, hoofing it alongside the likes of Mickey Rooney and Gene Kelly. Sadly, the "Red Scare" and subsequent Hollywood Blacklisting of the 1950s largely derailed the careers of Garrett and husband Larry Parks. After years in relative obscurity, she returned with the recurring role of Irene Lorenzo on "All in the Family" (CBS, 1970-79), followed by a six year stint on "Laverne & Shirley." Garrett continued to make infrequent television and stage appearances over the next three decades before passing away in February of 2011 at the age of 91.

Born May 23, 1919 in St. Joseph, MO, she made her stage debut in 1938 with the Mercury Theatre's production of "Danton's Death." She also danced with Martha Graham and performed at the 1939 World's Fair. On Broadway, she appeared in "All in Fun" (1941), "Let Freedom Sing" (1942), "Call Me Mister" (1946) and other musicals before an MGM contract lured her to Hollywood. Garrett's first film was the non-musical "The Big City" (1948), in which three men race to be the first to marry in order to adopt a young girl (Margaret O'Brien). In the film, she played the prospective bride of George Murphy. From there, she was tapped for "Words and Music" (1948), the sanitized biography of Rodgers and Hart, in which she sang "Manhattan" with Mickey Rooney.

Arguably her most memorable film was the classic musical, "On the Town" (1949), in which she portrayed the female taxi driver romanced by Frank Sinatra. Her greatest musical success, however, was in "My Sister Eileen" for Columbia (1955), in which she played the plain-Jane sister often overshadowed by the tempting Eileen (Janet Leigh). It was around this time period, however, that her husband, Larry Parks, had been the first actor called before the Communist-hunting House Committee on un-American Activities as an unfriendly witness, and although he eventually named names, Parks' career took a tumble.

In deference to him and the poisonous atmosphere in Hollywood at that time, Garrett stopped acting in films after "Shadow on the Window" (1957). Although she made her television debut in a 1955 episode of "The Ford Television Theatre" (NBC/ABC, 1951-57), with the exception of a repeat appearance on the show two years later and guest turns on "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" (NBC, 1956-1963) and "The Lloyd Bridges Show" (CBS, 1962-63), she was hardly seen on screens large or small for several years. Instead, Garrett and Parks tended to raising two sons - one of whom would become actor Andrew Parks - and running a real estate business. Garrett also made periodic returns to Broadway in productions like "Bells Are Ringing" (1958), "Beg, Borrow or Steal" (1960), and "A Girl Could Get Lucky" (1964).

Garrett took on her first recurring role in 1973, when Norman Lear added her to the cast of "All in the Family" (CBS, 1970-79). As the feisty feminist neighbor Irene Lorenzo, she frequently sparred with Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker. She also performed a one-woman show in Los Angeles called "Betty Garrett and Other Songs." When Parks died in 1975, Garrett left the cast of "All in the Family," but the following year, joined the cast of "Laverne & Shirley" (ABC, 1975-1983). As Edna Babish, the title duo's (Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall) landlady who would eventually marry Laverne's father (Phil Foster), Garrett remained with the series until 1981, when she was lured away to co-star in the short-lived Broadway musical, "The Supporting Cast."

Having earned a comfortable living through her television work and various real estate holdings, Garrett was less active in the 1980s and 1990s. She reappeared sporadically on programs such as "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986) and "Murder She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996), in addition to being interviewed for Broadway-themed entries of the program "Biography" (A&E, 1987- ). Later appearances included spots on "Becker" (CBS, 1998-2004) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2004- ), in addition to small roles in the independent horror spoofs "Trail of the Screaming Forehead" (2007) and "Dark and Stormy Night" (2009). The actress died at age 91 of an aortic aneurysm in Los Angeles.

Relationships

Octavia Garrett

Mother

Curtis Garrett

Father

Larry Parks

Husband
Married from 1944 until his death in 1975

Andrew Parks

Son
Born March 1, 1951 father, Larry Parks

Garrett Parks

Son
father, Larry Parks

EDUCATION

The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre

New York , New York
attended on scholarship

Milestones

2003

Received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress for her role on "Becker" (CBS)

2003

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame

2001

Again appeared on Broadway belting "Broadway Baby" in the revival of "Follies"

1981

Returned to Broadway in "The Supporting Cast"

1976

Performed in one-woman show, "Betty Garrett and Other Songs"

1976

Played Edna Babish on "Laverne & Shirley" (ABC)

1973

Played Irene Lorenzo on "All in the Family" (CBS)

1955

Made her TV debut on episode of "Ford Theatre" (NBC)

1955

Starred opposite Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon in "My Sister Eileen"

1948

Made feature film debut in "The Big City"

1941

Made her Broadway debut in the revue "Of V We Sing"

1938

Made her stage debut in the Mercury Theater production of "Danton's Death"

Bonus Trivia

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Because of their past affiliations with the Communist Party, Garrett and her husband became embroiled with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Both had trouble finding work during this period and the couple occasionally performed in Las Vegas showrooms, summer stock productions, and touring companies of Broadway shows.

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