Happy birthday – Betty Grable

Historic City News reporters in St Augustine recall that Betty Grable, who would have turned 95 today, was performing in Born Yesterday at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville less than a year before her death in 1973.

In the array of 1940’s ingénues, Grable stood out as the biggest actress of the decade.

Against competition from the likes of Judy Garland, Ingrid Bergman, Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner; it was Betty Grable who will be remembered as the Hollywood sensation whose legs were insured with Lloyd’s of London for over $1 million.

“There are two reasons I’m in show business,” Gable once quipped, “and I’m standing on both of them.”

Her most lasting claim to fame, though, might be as a pin-up girl. A photo of Grable taken by Frank Powolny in 1943 became a must-have for soldiers serving in WWII. LIFE magazine included the image in its “100 Photos That Changed the World,” and Hugh Hefner gives it credit for inspiring him to start Playboy Magazine.

Grable’s performance at the Alhambra was not unlike other performances by actors on the downward slope of their careers. The Alhambra also provided Sal Mineo, Sandy Dennis, Pia Zadora, Vera Miles and Mamie Van Doren an opportunity to enjoy a few more moments in the spotlight.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News archive photograph

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