Monday, October 11, 2010
FORGOTTEN ONES: BETTY HUTTON
Now I profiled Betty Hutton before on this blog, but when she passed away in 2007 she was and is largely forgotten. Hutton made 19 films from 1942 to 1952 including a hugely popular The Perils of Pauline in 1947. She was billed over Fred Astaire in the 1950 musical Let's Dance. Hutton's greatest screen triumph came in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) for MGM, which hired her to replace an exhausted Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley. The film and the leading role, retooled for Hutton, was a smash hit, with the biggest critical praise going to Hutton. (Her obituary in The New York Times described her as "a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm.")Hutton, however, like Garland, was earning a reputation for being extremely difficult.
In 1944, she signed with Capitol Records, one of the earliest artists to do so, but became unhappy with its management and later signed with RCA Victor. Among her many films was an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button.
Her time as a Hollywood star came to an end due to contract disagreements with Paramount following the Oscar-winning The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and Somebody Loves Me (1952), a biopic of singer Blossom Seeley. The New York Times indicated that her film career ended because of her insistence that her husband at the time, Charles O'Curran, direct her next film; when the studio declined, Hutton broke her contract. Hutton's last completed film was a small one, 1957's Spring Reunion. She gave an understated, sensitive performance in the drama, but box office receipts seemed to show that the public didn't accept a subdued Hutton...