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Betty Garrett

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Betty Garrett was a sunny comic actress, dancer, and singer with a handful of Hollywood musicals and Broadway roles under her belt when the Communist scare of the 1950s brought her thriving career to a screeching and ugly halt. She and Larry Parks, her husband and an Oscar-nominated actor, were summoned by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and questioned about their Communist involvement. As the drama played out, a very pregnant Garrett was never called to testify, but her husband was. His admission that he had briefly belonged to the Communist party, and his refusal to name others who also belonged, earned him a spot on the Hollywood blacklist. Garrett and Parks suffered repercussions both professionally and socially. Garrett and her husband took to the stage and appeared in stock productions. Parks never quite managed to shake the blacklist, although he did win a role in a John Houston film in 1962. Garrett managed to return to work in 1955, when she starred in My Sister Eileen, a musical by Harry Cohn. She left film work, however, because of her husband's continued status as <>persona non grata<>. Parks made a living from Real Estate ventures, while Garrett worked in television. She held recurring roles on the television series Laverne and Shirley and All in the Family. Garrett's recordings stem mainly from her early years in film and on Broadway. Among them are the soundtracks to productions or movies from the 1940s, including On the Town, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and Something for the Boys. She has written her autobiography, Betty Garrett and Other Songs, and taken her show of the same name on tour. She also toured in a production of Breaking Up the Act, which co-starred Gale Storm and Sheree North. ~ Linda Seida

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23 May 1919 in St. Joseph, MO

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