The Story of Betty Grable: The Pinup Queen Who Helped Win Wars

Her playful smile, sexy poses, and attractive overall look captured the attention of many men and women. Who is this lady of class? Let's get to know this stunning star who captured our eyes and hearts during World War II.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Grable's iconic over-the-shoulder pose from 1943 (due to the fact she was visibly pregnant) was a World War II bestseller, showing off her "Million Dollar Legs".

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Grable's iconic over-the-shoulder pose from 1943 (due to the fact she was visibly pregnant) was a World War II bestseller, showing off her "Million Dollar Legs".


A QUEEN’S ROOTS

Betty Grable is the third child of Lilian Hofman and John Conn Grable. She was born on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents named her Ruth Elizabeth. Betty's older sister is Marjorie and her brother's name is John. Sadly, John died in 2016, the same year when Betty was born.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Cropped screenshot of Betty Grable in the trailer for the film How to Marry a Millionaire

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Cropped screenshot of Betty Grable in the trailer for the film How to Marry a Millionaire


BETTY LA LILLIAN

Their mother was determined to bring them on-stage. Betty gained her mother's attention and was enrolled in several performing arts classes to further enhance her potential as a star. Her older sister, Marjorie wasn't into performing arts but she supported Betty and Lillian's aspirations.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Pin-up photo of Betty Grable for the Jun. 25, 1943 issue of Yank, the Army Weekly, a weekly U.S. Army magazine fully staffed by enlisted men.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Pin-up photo of Betty Grable for the Jun. 25, 1943 issue of Yank, the Army Weekly, a weekly U.S. Army magazine fully staffed by enlisted men.


THE STRUGGLE

The fact that her mother made her perform in events, we may think that Betty was confident enough. However, at a young age, she suffered from a fear of facing the crowd. But Betty didn’t let her struggle get in the way! You go, girl!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Betty Grable's daughters Victoria and Elizabeth watch as their mother rehearses for the premiere of the television program A Shower of Stars

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Betty Grable's daughters Victoria and Elizabeth watch as their mother rehearses for the premiere of the television program A Shower of Stars


ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD

Vaudeville, a theater play joining comedy, song, and dance, was Betty's thing during her teen years. Many were mesmerized by her skills as they watched her. Luckily enough, a Hollywood talent scout has been watching her and urged Betty's mother to take Betty to Hollywood.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Publicity photo of Betty Grable

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Publicity photo of Betty Grable


HOLLYWOOD STAR IN THE MAKING

Beauty and talent could be one's assurance to make a name as a celebrity. Betty had both! She was enrolled in Hollywood Professional School where she had dancing and acting lessons. Although money was tight during that time her parents continue to support Betty and her dreams.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Betty Grable visits the Marines at New River, North Carolina.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons|Betty Grable visits the Marines at New River, North Carolina.


ERROR 101: BETTY'S FAKE AGE

Lillian made Betty join beauty pageants and theater play. However, Betty's heart was beating to be in the film Let's Go Places. Betty was only thirteen-year-old at that time but Lilian signed her up as fifteen-year-old for her to be qualified. Fox Studios discovered it and they fired Betty.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing for the camera

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing for the camera


LEGS LIKE NO OTHER

Betty once said, “I became a star for two reasons, and I’m standing on them.” It may sound like she means it figuratively but no, not at all. She literally means that her legs, her gams, caused her stardom. Her legs were the favorites of people from the hosiery industry. Because of Betty, the industry gained a lot.

 Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty showing off her long legs

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty showing off her long legs


$1 MILLION WORTH OF LEGS INSURANCE

Her flawless legs secured a better future for her! Lloyd’s of London funded the $1 million dollars for Betty’s legs insurance. That must have been a good investment because Hosiery specialists said that Betty’s legs were truly proportionally perfect. Who would have thought legs could be insured?

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing in her bathing suit

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing in her bathing suit


PLAYBOY MAG’S INSPIRATION

In the photo, Betty was in her bathing suit flexing her flawless legs, back against the camera, and showing her sweetest smile.  The photo reached Hugh Hefner’s bed bunk. The former soldier was the co-founder of the famous Playboy magazine. He, later on, revealed that Betty’s iconic photo inspired him to launch Playboy magazine.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty looking seductively in a photoshoot

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty looking seductively in a photoshoot


BETTY’S FIRST RIVAL

She was handpicked for the film “Pigskin Parade” and imagined Betty’s joy! It could have been her spotlight but it was also a big break for Judy Garland. The viewers’ attention was caught by Garland and that was a painful plot twist for Betty (and her mom).

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty smiling for the camera

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty smiling for the camera


SHE GOT TOGETHER WITH A MARRIED MAN

With her flawless skin, gorgeous body, and girl-next-door personality, who wouldn’t fall for her? A lot of handsome guys for sure lined up to ask her out. One of those guys was George Raft, an actor and a married man. Raft handled their relationship with an iron fist, making Betty go away.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty in one of her movies

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty in one of her movies


 

“THE NEXT BETTY GRABLE”

News (and gossip) would tell that Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe were on and off cam rivals. Well, that was not the real case. Marilyn, ten years younger than Betty, looked up to the latter as her inspiration for her rising career. Speculations are running around saying that Marilyn Monroe could be the “next Betty Grable”. But then, Marilyn, just like Betty, also made a name for herself.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty and Marilyn Monroe smiling

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty and Marilyn Monroe smiling


ANATOMIC BOMB WAS NAMED AFTER HER

Prior to the calm and chaos during World War II, the military was into polishing their gears and weapons, including atomic bombs. The U.S. army would usually name the bombs after some people. One bomb was named “Grable” and was put into a nuclear test as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of tests.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty looking away in a photoshoot

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty looking away in a photoshoot


TOP-EARNING HOLLYWOOD FEMALE STAR

Her gams, her gems.  Her films "Springtime in the Rockies,” “Coney Island,” and “Pin-Up Girl” (and don’t forget her legs) made it possible for her to be one of the most top-earning female stars in Hollywood. In 1946 and 1947, she was certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as the highest-paid woman in the entire country, earning $300,000 a year.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing with her cat

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty posing with her cat


BETTY AND HER FIRST WEDDING

In 1937, Betty married Jackie Coogan, a famous child star of his days and a comedian. It could have been a happily-ever-after if only they worked out the challenges brought about by the lawsuit Jackie had against his parents. They only had two years of bittersweet married life before they split up in 1939.

Image Source: Youtube/historycomestolife| Betty and Jackie gets married

Image Source: Youtube/historycomestolife| Betty and Jackie gets married


AT HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN

Aside from her photos that represent the young ladies back at home, Betty also helped in cheering up the servicemen in another way. She rendered service at the Hollywood Canteen and would even dance and talk with the servicemen. What a nice lady!

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty smiling for the camera

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty smiling for the camera


PEDICURE WITH A CLASS!

There was a time when Betty noticed that Marilyn Manroe needed a pedicure. They were having a photo shoot that time when Betty did a surprisingly sweet thing-- she used her nail polish to give Marilyn’s toes a touch of class and awesomeness.

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty in one of her movies

Image Source: Youtube/Mo10ta| Betty in one of her movies


GOODBYE HOLLYWOOD, HELLO BROADWAY

At age 23, Betty decided to say goodbye to Hollywood. However, her stardom was still alive in the heart of the Americans. She then greeted Broadway as a cast of Dubarry Was a Lady the musical. The show was, of course, a success, having a superstar with them.

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey|Betty in one of her photoshoots

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey|Betty in one of her photoshoots


COMEBACK IS REAL

After seeing Betty perform on Broadway, Darryl F. Zanuck, the studio head of 20th Century Fox made sure to get Betty back. They offered her a long term contract and even gave her a lead role in the film Down Argentine Way. It’s really hard to let go of a star, huh? 

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty as a young girl

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty as a young girl


BETTY FELL IN LOVE WITH A BANDLEADER

The G-rated musical drama with a slush of comedy, Spring in the Rockies paved the way for Betty to find romance in real life. She dated her co-star, James Harry, the band leader of Harry James and His Orchestra. I feel the love birds chirping!

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


A WEDDING AND A BABY

The film was a success, as well as Betty and James’ relationship. We are so happy that another couple made in Hollywood! Sooner, they found out that she was pregnant and urged them to get married. Their fairytale wedding happened in 1943.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


A QUEEN-LIKE NAME FOR THE BABY

Betty and James were one of the sweetest couples at that time. People are excited to see their babies! Betty gave birth to a lovely girl and gave her the name Victoria Elizabeth, Betty’s character name in Spring in the Rockies.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO SOMETIMES

Betty’s comeback made the film producers come after her. She was offered to be the lead actress in the film The Razor’s Edge. But the beautiful and wealthy actress declined the offer. It wasn’t the only offer she declined for sure. Betty really knows to set her priorities.

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey|Betty singing in one of her shows

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey|Betty singing in one of her shows


IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTY

Saying no is totally okay, but regret? Oh, it’s another story. After Betty declined the offer, it was Anne Baxter who gladly took it. The film was a huge success, making Anne Baxter an Oscar Awardee. And Betty? Life goes on, dear.

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty wearing a silk dress

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty wearing a silk dress


ALIAS FRANCES DEAN

Upon hearing the name “Betty Grable”, people will usually think of the Girl with a "Million Dollar Legs”. However, before the pin-up queen became a Hollywood star, she sometimes appeared on shows with an alias “Frances Dean”. What a mystery!

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty looking serious for the camera

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty looking serious for the camera


ADIOS, HOLLYWOOD!

Thousands of photoshoots and top-grossing films made Betty Grable wealthier than before. However, she knew it’s time for her to pass on her crown. She decided to leave Hollywood for good in 1955 and focused more on her family life.

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty waving and sitting on a bench

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty waving and sitting on a bench


ANOTHER “MOVING ON” PHASE

Betty and James were a perfect match. They both got looks, money, and fame. They also have two daughters, Victoria and Jessica. But then, in life, you can’t have it all. It was heartbreaking to see them apart. Things happened and sadly, the couple got divorced in 1965.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


PRELOVED DRESSING ROOM

Even after she left Hollywood and divorced Harry James, Betty’s stardom wasn’t gone in a flash. She still managed to appear on some TV commercials and night clubs too. By the time she went to Las Vegas to do her own thing, her dress room in the studio was given to Marilyn Monroe.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


SECRET NO MORE

The bathing suit iconic photo of the pin-up queen is as precious as The Eiffel Tower. People were even amazed upon knowing that there’s a secret behind the photo! Betty was actually 7 months pregnant when that photo was taken.

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty posing beside the pool

Image Source: Youtube/Stacey| Betty posing beside the pool


STILL A SHINING STAR

After years of beauty, wealth, fame, struggles, and high hopes, Betty was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a tough time then for loved ones and fans, especially for her two daughters. She died in 1973, leaving a mark not only in Hollywood but in the whole world as well.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox


THE QUEEN’S STORY

Betty’s life is a roller coaster ride. She fell in and out of love. She smiled through life’s storms. Betty taught us that in life, you can not truly have it all. Sometimes, it’s a matter of finding your own comfort and your happiness.

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Image Source: Youtube/Ellis Jones| Betty in the Diamond Horseshoe/20th Century Fox

Your parents and grandparents probably know about Betty’s stardom (or maybe not). The point is, wherever you are in the world and whether your young or not, surely, this pin-up queen name is an epitome of elegance! Give it up for the Queen of Pin-Ups!

Source: Encyclopedia, Vintage News, Britannica, People

Related posts
Getty Images
Celebrity Nov 25, 2019
Willie Nelson's 8 Children Including Daughter He Found Out About In 2012
Wikimedia Commons
TV Shows Oct 21, 2019
Beloved Actors of 'My Three Sons` Sitcom Then and Now
Getty Images
Celebrity Sep 23, 2019
Ice-T and Coco Austin: Exciting 15-Year-Long Love Story
Getty Images
TV Shows Sep 23, 2019
How Time Affected the Cast of 'Eight Is Enough' Show

Please disable your AdBlocker

Advertising helps us continue to provide quality content. For instant unlimited access. Please disable your AdBlocker on our site and refresh the page.