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Betty Garrett remembers a life of stage, screen and the blacklist

May 27, 2009 | 10:33 am

BettyLarry Legendary actress-singer Betty Garrett, who is being feted for her 90th birthday by Theatre West Sunday at the Music Box at Henry Fonda Theater, endured many slings and arrows during the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, which destroyed the film career of her Oscar-nominated husband, Larry Parks (“The Jolson Story”), and caused problems for her to get work. She recently recalled one of the times she was spurned from attending a luncheon.

“I was serving on a committee in Los Angeles,” said Garrett. “It was some charity and we met up at Pickfair — all the ladies who were going to take part in this thing. They went around the room and said how do you want your place card to read? Do you want your professional name or your married name?. So when it got to me, I said ‘Mrs. Larry Parks.’ Ida Koverman, who was Louis B. Mayer’s secretary, took me aside and said ‘You little idiot.’ I didn’t really understand what it was about, but one of women complained that they didn’t want Mrs. Larry Parks at that luncheon. This poor lady called to tell me — she kept saying I am really sorry, I don’t want to do this, but they told me I had to make the phone call.”

Read more about Betty Garrett here.

-- Susan King

Photo: Betty Garrett and Larry Parks on April 29, 1974. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (2)

it is heartening to know that garrett outlived all those jackals who
created and promoted the blacklist. saw her on johnny carson's tonight show
in the seventies and she spoke of her family's trials then. she's a gutsy,
talented lady.

Betty Garrett was a nice old lady who had earlier in life, passed through a time in Hollywood when communists were making a big effort to infiltrate the trade unions whose members made motion pictures.

Just as Hitler was enamoured of radio as a propaganda medium, Joseph Stalin adored movies, and his Soviet agents were assigned to turn American movies against our own country. To do this the Soviets set up "Cells" - small groups of dedcated Soviet agents, to spread Marxism and pro-soviet views.

The Cells in Hollywood aimed to secretly indoctrinate movie industry people with the goal of getting pro-Marxist union leaders elected. Had they succeeded, studios would be under threat to take marching orders according to the "party line".

When the plot was exposed in congressional investigations,
many otherwise well-meaning idealistic types, were shown to have participated in meetings and events designed to further the Soviet cause. They had fallen prey to the grand talk, that masked a totalitarian regime. Garret, and her husband Larry Parks were some of those.

And we are still in this war of collectivism vs. freedom -aren't we? Look who's president!


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