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Betty Grable

From Academic Kids

Ruth Elizabeth "Betty" Grable (December 18, 1916–July 3, 1973) was an American actress, singer, and pin-up girl whose famous bathing-suit poster was an icon of the World War II era.

Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, she was propelled into acting by her mother, who insisted that one of her daughters become a star. For her first role, as a chorus girl in the film Let's Go Places (1930), Grable was legally underage for acting, but because the chorus line performed in blackface, it was impossible to tell how old she was. For her next film, her mother tried to get her to sign a contract using false ID, but when this was discovered Grable was fired. Grable finally obtained a role as a 'Goldwyn Girl' in Whoopee!, starring Eddie Cantor, and had played in some 20 films by 1939, including the Academy Award-nominated The Gay Divorcee, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

In 1937 she married another famous former child-actor, Jackie Coogan, but Coogan was under considerable stress from a lawsuit against his parents over his earnings, and the couple divorced in 1940.

The same year that she divorced Coogan, Grable obtained a contract with 20th Century Fox, becoming their top star throughout the decade, with splashy technicolor films such as Down Argentine Way, Springtime in the Rockies, Moon Over Miami, Coney Island, and Pin Up Girl. It was during her reign as box-office champ that Grable posed for her famous pin-up photo, which soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting overseas in World War II. It has become one of the most iconic images of the war.

In 1943 she married jazz trumpeter and big band leader Harry James. They divorced in 1965.

Grable's later career was marked by feuds with studio heads, who worked her to exhaustion. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Darryl F. Zanuck, she tore up her contract with him and stormed out of his office. Gradually leaving movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas.

Betty Grable died of lung cancer at the age of 56 and was buried in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

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