TCM to Pay Birthday Tribute to Actress Betty Garrett

NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER, Betty Garrett, knitting between scenes, 1949
Everett Collection

Although better known in her later career for her supporting roles in sitcoms like All in the Family (she played Archie’s liberal neighbor Irene Lorenzo) and Laverne & Shirley (she was the girls’ landlady, Edna Babish), actress/comedian/singer/dancer Betty Garrett had a notable, if brief, big-screen stint in which she played other scene-stealing supporting characters. Celebrating what would have been Garrett’s 105th birthday (she was born May 23, 1919, in St. Joseph, Missouri, and died Feb. 12, 2011, in Los Angeles at age 91), Turner Classic Movies airs the first five of the seven feature-length films in which Garrett appeared from the late 1940s and into the late ’50s.

ON THE TOWN, from left: Betty Garrett, Frank Sinatra, 1949

Everett Collection

Up first is her debut movie: Big City (1948), described on its movie poster as being a “big-hearted drama with songs” in which Garrett plays singer “Shoo Shoo” Grady. Next is the musical romantic comedy Neptune’s Daughter (1949), which finds Garrett playing the similarly named character Betty Barrett, the “man-crazy” sister of star Esther Williams’ character, Eve Barrett. Then, in the musical On the Town (1949), Garrett appears as Brunhilde “Hildy” Esterhazy, who takes to sailor-on-leave Chip (Frank Sinatra).

WORDS AND MUSIC, Mickey Rooney, Betty Garrett, 1948

Everett Collection

Garrett and Sinatra also factor in the next musical, Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), in which Garrett’s Shirley Delwyn becomes an ardent fan of Sinatra’s ballplayer Dennis Ryan. Finally, Garrett appears in Words and Music (1948), a biographical musical film loosely based on the creative partnership between composer Richard Rodgers (Tom Drake) and lyricist Lorenz Hart (Mickey Rooney).

The celebration will air on TCM, beginning at 10am


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