Friday, October 25, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Betty Hutton and Howard Keel

Artist:Betty Hutton and Howard Keel
Song:Anything You Can Do
Album:Hollywood Hits: 70 Years of Memorable Movie Music

Betty Hutton was a very popular film musical performer in the late 40s. Her biggest success was probably as Annie Oakley in the 1950 film adaptation of the Irving Berlin Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun. Her career screeched to a halt a couple of years later over a contract dispute. Howard Keel was her co-star and he was just getting established as a star at MGM. Betty was born Elizabeth June Thornburg Feb. 26, 1921 in Battle Creek, MI. Her father abandoned the family when she was a child and mom moved Betty and her sister to Detroit where they sang as a group in illegal nightclubs. Mom had to keep them one step ahead of the law. Betty moved to New York and appeared in a couple of shows. But she was discovered by orchestra leader Vincent Lopez and he brought her to Hollywood and a 1942 contract with Paramount Pictures. She made her feature debut in the 1942 Dorothy Lamour film The Fleet's In. She also recorded for Capitol Records with some success. The film that really made Betty a star was The Perils Of Pauline in 1947. She also starred with Fred Astaire in the 1950 film Let's Dance. Ethel Merman starred in the Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun. MGM bought the film rights as a vehicle for Judy Garland. Howard Keel had just signed with MGM after Broadway success. This was his first film at MGM. Veteran MGM musical director George Sidney directed the film and Busby Berkeley directed the musical numbers. Judy had worked with Berkeley before and didn't want to work with him again. She worked on the film for two months but it wasn't going well. She complained to MGM boss Louis B. Mayer trying to get Berkeley fired. Then she stopped showing up for work was ultimately suspended. Though MGM considered contract player Betty Garrett for the role (she would have been great), they decided they needed a star and borrowed Betty Hutton from Paramount. Though the cast and crew were cold to Betty, the film was very successful and Betty's performance was praised. The soundtrack CD of Annie Get Your Gun is out of print. But you can get Anything You Can Do on this 3CD box set released by Shout! Factory as a companion to the 2007 PBS special Movie Songs Live. All the recordings in this box set are original versions. Betty Hutton's film career ended in 1952 when she insisted to Paramount that her current husband Charles O'Curran direct her next film. They declined and she left. Betty appeared on TV in the 50s and on stage in the 60s. After some personal problems including alcoholism, she moved to Rhode Island to work as a cook in a church rectory. She became a teacher at Emerson College in Boston in the 80s and performed occasionally. She moved back to Los Angeles in 1999 and her last interview was with TCM's Robert Osborne in 2000. Betty Hutton died on Mar. 11, 2007 at age 86. Here's Betty Hutton and Howard Keel performing Anything You Can Do from the 1950 film Annie Get Your Gun.

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