Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Betty Garrett (May 23, 1919 – February 12, 2011)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a serious omission by not honoring the memory of one of their own in the 2012 film segment of those who passed during this past Oscar year – a prominent American actress, comedienne, singer and dancer.

Here’s Betty Garrett in a “90 year retrospective in 2 minutes and 50 seconds” YouTube video. This was shown at her ”90th Birthday Bash on May 31st, 2009.”

"The music is from the end credits of the 1983 film "Max Dugan Returns" composed by David Shire. Edited with love by David Engel”

I wrote a comment to the Academy expressing my disappointment they failed to recognize Betty Garrett, a performer who gave much pleasure to me and millions of others for years. If you feel the same, click on this Motion Picture Academy Oscars link. You can then send the Academy an email expressing your own opinion.

My early memory of Betty Garrett was in the movie “On The Town” with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Ann Miller. I used 16 cents of my 25 cents allowance to go to the movie in our Midwest town. “My Sister Eileen” is another movie in which I recall enjoying Betty Garrett’s performance opposite Janet Leigh and Jack Lemon. She was a co-founder of Theatre-West here in L.A. Ms. Garrett had an extensive list of credits on Broadway, the movies and television, working well into her elder years until her death a year ago.

She won numerous awards including the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award twice, for Spoon River Anthology and Betty Garrett and Other Songs. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ms Garrett’s good friend, Naomi Caryl was a singer, musician, composer in Spoon River who you can read about in a 2 Part "Recollections of a Vagabonde."

Even better, Naomi writes for her own blog where you can enjoy first hand fascinating accounts of her life as a performer who also acts and creates art among her many talents. This Old Old Lady "Here in the Hills" – that’s Hollywood Hills -- shares her views and experiences as an entertainment world professional whose musical talents took her to Broadway.

I hope those who viewed the 2012 Academy Awards Oscar ceremony enjoyed the event. Pre-awards commentary I shared in the previous post included my views on many of this season’s movies. Ironically, I fell asleep on the sofa mid-afternoon though I don’t usually nap. Early in the ceremony I awoke to discover awards were being given to a foreign film. Obviously, I had missed the comedian host’s opening. Later, I heard Twitter buzz had young viewers asking, “Who is Billy Crystal?” – the host. Wonder if they ever heard of Bob Hope? Are you feeling old readers?

Merle Streep won the Best Actress Oscar which wasn’t too surprising, but admittedly deserved. She paused briefly on her way to the stage to whisper a few words to fellow nominee, Viola Davis in “The Help,” who was my choice. Then, Streep’s opening acceptance speech began with her generously acknowledging “half of the country” are disappointed that I was chosen.

By no means of the same significance, I was reminded of long ago college when I disappointingly lost an acting award. I felt a bit comforted when the much respected Drama Department head privately told me (which she probably shouldn’t have done) that she thought I should have won.

Best Actor Oscar went to Jean Dujardin in the Oscar winning Best Film “The Artist.” Uggie, the movie’s canine star, appeared on stage during one of the other several awards won by the film but didn’t speak. Here’s a link to the official Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences web site featuring winners and photos of Sunday’s 2012 Hollywood Oscars affair for anyone who wants to know more about other Oscar winners, nominees and the awards .

The opinions I’ve shared are strictly those of an amateur, but you may be interested in a much more professional perspective. I highly recommend you click on “Here in the Hills” for a truly interesting visit with Old Old Lady. She’ll offer unique observations, marvelous photos, and insights into her world. Not only will you be exposed to delightful show business stories, but you’ll be royally entertained in Old Old Lady’s home. Her residence is surrounded by a landscape which includes colorful flowering cacti that provide nectar for hummers and a variety of interesting birds. Unexpected wildlife visitors occasionally visit Old Old Lady who captures them in her camera lens.


  1. Really nice post JoAnn. I noticed Betty was missing in the "In Memorium" portion of the Oscars too. What a sweet and wonderful lady she was. I've been to Naomi's site many times and have seen her good friend Betty's beautiful face in many of her posts. They had a very special friendship... ~Joy

  2. What a lovely tribute to dear Betty, my dear---So very sweet...! I LOVE that Video by David E. He is an incredibly talented young man---besides being a Video Wizard---he is a great Dancer & Singer/Actor! Thank you for including that---it was a treat to see it once again...!
    And thank you for your lovely words about me, too, my dear...I very much appreciate you including me in this post...And that is GREAT that you have the link to the Academy, for those who wish to write them about Betty....!

  3. Thanks for the tip. A visit to "the Hills" proved very worthwhile.

  4. She had a very nice and natural girl next door look, and she aged well, never losing her spark. I enjoyed this.

  5. A+ for this post! More and more, my online experience of the Oscars has disintegrated into being driven off almost instantly by the pre-show. It's so great to read your view--those of a woman who actually has been involved in acting--of the Oscars ceremony, artists, and filmmakers. It almost makes me want to get TV again and have a proper Oscars viewing night. (Almost!) Thank you also for the link to the Vagabonde and her bio of Naomi Caryl. What a life Ms. Caryl's had--and is still having! What a treat to learn that she is Joseph Hirschorn's daughter!! The Hirschorn museum here is my very favorite of the Smithsonians. There's always something new and interesting there, and it's hardly ever just sculpture.

    i'd say this post has given me a swift kick. Dum spiro, spero...that kind of thing. Thanks!!

  6. A lovely tribute to Betty Garrett. I saw her in My Sister Eileen. At least I think I did. (The mind is a terrible thing to lose.) I thought the gal from The Help won? I don't watch the AA and I don't keep up with movies like I once did. I too used my meagre allowance to attend the movies and buy Photoplay Magazine. Also read Heada Hopper's bio. Dianne

  7. I also have written to the Academy to tell them of my dismay at not seeing Betty Garrett’s name during the Oscars’ Memorial. Thank you for giving a link to my blog regarding Naomi. Naomi is such a dear, and her blog is always so interesting. Two weeks ago I wrote another post regarding Naomi – I went to look at her childhood home in Long Island and was invited inside you can see it here: http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/2012/02/driving-to-great-neck-long-island-for.html. I was pleased that Jean Dujardin won but I also liked George Clooney’s performance in The Descendants very much. Meryl Streep is such a great actress – she is a grande dame of the cinema I think. I have not watched The Help yet so I cannot comment on Viola Davis. I see you have been blogging since 2006! I’ll come back to read some of you back posts.

  8. In a curious synchronicity, I read your post the day after our retirement community did a reading of "Larry Parks' Day in Court." Parks was Betty Garrett's husband who appeared before the House Committe on Unamerican Activities in 1951. Ended both their film careers yet they stayed together and had a successful construction business. Maybe the Academy does not want to remember its complicity in the ravages of McCarthyism?

    Here's a suggestion for a non-winner, foreign film I think you'd enjoy--the French-Canadian, "Monsieur Lazhar," a favorite at Sundance.

  9. Naomi D,B.: Interesting thought. Naomi Caryl has written about her friends Garrett and Parks with interesting personal photos at "Here In The Hills" with link to her blog in above post.

    Yes, I'll check out the foreign film you mentioned. Thanks!

  10. Vagabonde: Thanks for your interesting comment and updating mention of additional blog posts about Naomi Caryl I'll look forward to reading.

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