Betty Furness Profile

Betty Furness
Betty Furness
Photo of Betty Furness
(Elizabeth Mary Furness)
3 January 16 is born in Douglaston, Long Island, a borough of Queens, of Scotch and Dutch old New England ancestry. Her mother’s name is Florence. Her father George C. Furness is one of the early pioneers of radio, a director, producer, and announcer of Eveready Hour, the first big network program to gather glittering celebrities from all fields. Her parents divorce during her childhood.
23 begins sewing, making some of her own clothes
32 is a John Robert Powers model. She will later say: “Modeling teaches physical poise and grace, which is important in any line of work. If a girl appears to have poise when she enters a room, she immediately puts everyone else at ease. This can be a big help, even if the poise is at first only on the surface. I believe a modeling course can be valuable whether a girl plans a career or not for this very same reason."
Late Spring 32 attends The Bennett School in Millbrook, New York. The school's graduating class is visited by Hal Phyfe, the noted society photographer, to have its pictures taken for the yearbook. Phyfe, attracted by her beauty, advises her to go into the commercial advertising field as a model, and she takes his advice./A week after posing for her graduation photo, the photographer shows her portraits to a studio executive. Within another week she’s off to New York for a screen test. Before a month elapses, she arrives in Hollywood with an RKO contract in hand. Her only previous dramatic experience is confined to school plays, in which she shows great promise. She’s also popular at the Yale and Princeton proms, and is labeled “prom-trotter.”
has blue eyes, mouse brown hair, weighs 110 pounds, and stands 5’-5 1/2” tall
32 hours after arriving in Hollywood, she is awarded her first role in a Richard Dix film called Liberty Road
finishes high school under a private tutor on the RKO lot
12 January 33 her fate at RKO hangs in the balance along with that of Sandra Shaw and the newly signed Gretchen Wilson. The studio’s casting director, Fred Schuessler, says not to envy the bevy of beauties who come to crash Hollywood and the picture business. Of the 24 girls RKO placed under junior star contracts in the last 18 months, only two — Julie Haydon and Dorothy Wilson — have outlived options and developed into feature players. Schuessler says if he had a daughter wanting to get into movies, he would tell her first to get at least one year’s experience on the stage and another year in general extra work. Even then, “I would hesitate to let her sign a starlet contract.”
7 March 33 dances with Bruce Cabot at the Roosevelt’s Blossom Room. She wears a sapphire blue velvet dinner dress with huge circular stiffened ruffles over the tops of the arms and chiffon flowers right in the center of the neck.
8 March 33 Harrison Carroll pens: “Betty Furness and Dorothy Wilson have a new long-term contract at RKO. They are among the very few survivals of this studio’s big drive for young players.”
17 March 33 Harrison Carroll questions: “Is it a romance that is carrying Betty Furness to New York? Friends are looking for an announcement of some sort in the east.”
10 April 33 celebrates the end of Prohibition at the Brown Derby along with Maureen O’Sullivan, Johnny Farrow, and Howard Hughes. At 12:30 a.m., they toast President Roosevelt.
15 April 33 spends the weekend at the El Mirador in Palm Springs. Her patriotic bathing suit has red, white and blue checks, and the trunks are a dark blue flannel. She has a separate tie-around skirt, too.
17 May 33 packs her knitting needles with her all over the RKO lot, and the result is that she has pink, blue, white and other colored little circus hats—one hat for every costume
1 June 33 is lifted from the ranks of bit player to that of leading lady for the upcoming The Glory Command. She joins the cast on location filming in Annapolis.
3 June 33 is introduced to radio audiences during the Hollywood on the Air program, broadcast from RKO
18 June 33 starched yellow net with brown accessories make her a summery picture dancing with Bruce Cabot at the Cocoanut Grove
30 June 33 arrives home from Annapolis, alighting from the train with Bruce Cabot
9 July 33 Louella Parsons reports: “Arthur Lake’s girl, Betty Furness, getting the thrill that comes once in a lifetime. Tito Falconi, the Italian ace, dancing with her. He and Lieutenant Commander and Mrs. Tully Shelley Arthur’s guests at the Coconut Grove.”
3 August 33 she and Arthur Lake, along with his sister Florence and her friend Jack Goode, enjoy the swimming club daily
4 August 33 director William Van Dyke hosts a large party at the Roosevelt Patio Roof in honor of Bobbe Arnst, the Roof’s guest star for the evening. She attends with Arthur Lake. Also in attendance are the Walter Hustons, Florence Lake and Jack Goode,
September 33 advertises for Lux Toilet Soap
10 October 33 conceives the idea of taking the color schemes for her fall wardrobe from the autumn leaves
11 December 33 announces she is about to break the world’s wardrobe economy record with an evening gown she made for herself at a total cost of 69 cents
15 December 33 according to her, a girl’s lips are most important in her screen career because the whole character of a face depends upon the lip contour. With the natural curve of her own mouth, the best parts she could get were western heroines. So, she collected nearly 500 pictures of women noted for their beauty and practiced making up her lips to match those in the photos, finally hitting upon a combination of an artist’s conception of Salome’s upper lip and Katherine Hepburn’s lower lip. Now, she’s playing leading roles.
28 December 33 she believes in saving for the future. “It’s better to spend less money for a car and more for gasoline than to splurge on an expensive machine which must languish in the garage until the mortgage is paid.” Admittedly one of the best dressed young ladies in filmdom, she boasts some score or more of costumes, from sports outfits to evening ensembles—and the most expensive cost exactly $5.65. She makes almost all of her clothes and buys the materials at bargain sales.
4 January 34 it was hardly a year ago that she hit the headlines as a promising young actress in New York, and today she’s considered the only girl in Hollywood whose sudden fame did not flicker out just as quickly as it rose
religiously scrapbooks her matrimonially-themed fan mail—proposals chiefly from flaming high school lads
12 March 34 has youth and beauty, but youth and beauty are not enough. Betty will become a great actress if she retains her unusual ability to work hard and “stand the gaff,” says Frances Robinson-Duff, famous mentor to stage and screen stars.
6 July 34 it may just be a gag, and again it may be on the level, but she announces that she’s going to plaster the walls of her studio dressing room with all the telegrams she has received since coming to Hollywood. Wonder how many of our playboys will be around trying to buy back their telegrams?
9 July 34 her current picture, The Life of Vergie Winters, comes under fire of state censor boards following the movement of several religious groups calling for fewer films in which sex is stressed
12 September 34 Louella spots her at the Trocadero with an unknown young man
14 September 34 a year ago, when she was under contract to RKO, the studio executives placed little if any value upon her services. When her contract elapsed last spring, MGM signed her to a long-term contract. As yet she hasn't had a chance to make a picture on her home lot, having been borrowed for three films in a row—and by RKO.
23 September 34 she and some of the younger players are enthusiastic about polo and spend their Sunday afternoons at matches. They generally end up at someone’s beach home for a plunge and game of ping-pong or badminton. Included in her gang are Bill Henry, Jean and Cecilia Parker, Irene Hervey, and Henry Wadsworth.
as a stock player at RKO she only had bit parts—until she appeared in a Hollywood play. Now she has a contract with MGM with a guarantee of parts, not bits—a raise in salary, too.
27 December 34 has been seeing Howard Hughes frequently since his return from the East
she wants to know why fashion designers always ignore the more youthful actresses when picking the best dressed women in the film world. It’s a plot, says she. “In making their plans, fashion experts consider only sophisticated women who can wear satins and sables. There are quite a few well-dressed girls among the younger actresses. Three I think are Jean Parker, Virginia Bruce and Maureen O'Sullivan. They are well-dressed because they have the courage to make their clothes and personalities blend." In her opinion, too many of filmdom's young set ape the styles of the sophisticated stars. They would do much better, she says, to keep their clothes simple. The MGM starlet declares she seldom pays more than $30 for a sports outfit or a street dress.
28 December 34 returns from New York where she shopped every day at Macy’s, although she designs and makes her own clothing. She’s the only actress in Hollywood whose number is in the phone book. Her boyfriend is Guy Rennie, whose unusual singing set Paris agog last season.
8 January 35 Filmdom's younger set, and Betty Furness in particular, can take a bow. Hollywood fashion designers are taking up her recent charges that they ignore the more youthful actresses in selecting the best dressed women on the screen. Adrian, the style mentor on her own lot, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, today made the first placating gesture when he named the 10 best-dressed, and her name is among them. The others who win the nod are Maureen O’Sullivan, Ann Sothern, Frances Drake, Martha Sleeper, Madge Evans, Jean Muir, Ginger Rogers, Frances Dee, and June Knight.
3 February 35 columnist Dan Thomas spends Sunday with the stars. “Party day at Cecilia Parker’s house with Irene Hervey, Betty Furness, Henry Wadsworth, and William Henry. The group enjoys the last bites of an ice box supper in the kitchen. Earlier activities included watching a polo game and playing some tennis, followed by beach concessions.”
18 April 35 her latest escort is Douglas Gibson, the New York socialite
12 May 35 she and Maureen O’Sullivan are leading sun-tan exponents
17 May 35 Dan Thomas thinks that she has eyes for Gordon Westcott
18 May 35 “Whether I’m working or not and regardless of what time I get home at night, I never go to bed without first putting my hair up on curlers. I can’t afford to walk into the studio unless I’m looking my best, which isn’t any too good. And, I never know when I might get a call. So, I’m always ready for it.”
has an unquenchable passion for new hats. The funnier they are, the better she likes them.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people looking askance at me when I have out my knitting on a set. But by the time the picture is half finished, some of them usually have asked me to teach them.”
lives with her mother, renting a very vivid pink stucco bungalow on Kings Road. “I won’t pay for having it painted and neither will the owner. So, I guess it will have to stay as it is. But don’t make any cracks about it because I don’t like it any better than you do.”
is selected one of the film colony’s six best prospects for stardom. She is described as “one swell guy,” a girl who always would be one of the gang, whether that gang be made up of boys or girls.
24 May 35 is spotted in the Edison Green Room, where she and Cary Grant are reported more interested in each other than in the goings on
4 June 35 Louella spies: “Cary Grant tres smitten with Betty Furness and doesn’t care who knows it.”
16 June 35 Louella lets it be known: “Cary Grant and Betty Furness more and more that way about each other, attending Jim Jeffries’ fight club bouts.”
26 June 35 half of her fan mail is filled with questions about clothes. The other day a package arrived from Kansas and in it was one of the smartest evening gowns, designed and made for her by a fan.
discarding dignity, poise and aplomb to stagger, slide, whirl and plunge through one of the maddest and merriest evenings in the history of Hollywood, 200 film notables see to it that the Venice Fun House, in which Carole Lombard gives her gala party, lives up to its name. Marlene Dietrich tries to remain on her famous legs in the revolving barrel, with William Haines behind her and having his own trouble, too. Cary Grant, Toby Wing, Mitchell Leisen, Betty Furness, Caesar Romero and Lois Wilson cling on for dear life just before landing in a merry heap at the bottom of the slide.
13 July 35 gets a telephone call from New York every night but won’t give his name
25 July 35 Dan Thomas reports from the studio café: “Gail Patrick and Betty Furness both wearing makeup and modern street clothes matching pennies to see who’ll pay the check…Betty loses.”
1 August 35 attends Eddie Duchin’s premiere at Cocoanut Grove with Cesar Romero
4 August 35 is getting phone calls from Cary Grant since Virginia Cherrill divorced him
2 September 35 Louella Parsons notices “Rita Kaufman and Rubye de Remer with Cary Grant and Randy Scott at a café, but Cary’s heart is still with Betty Furness.”
5 September 35 Santa Monica is very gay over the holiday with lots of beach parties; she attends the Townsend Netchers’ buffet luncheon with Cary Grant
6 September 35 Harrison Carroll notes her and Cesar Romero at Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club the other evening. “They were so busy talking, they didn’t dance a dance.”
15 October 35 Frank Lawton throws a party for his wife Evelyn Laye on the night of her opening in Bitter Sweet. In attendance are Myrna Loy, Arthur Hornblow, Jr., Randy Scott, Cary Grant, and Betty Furness.
31 January 36 dines with Austin Parker
14 February 36 Al Scott smiling on Betty Furness, who was at one time completely engrossed in Cary Grant
15 February 36 attends the president’s ball at the Biltmore with Cesar Romero
2 March 36 she and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., ride a tandem bike across the Trocadero dance floor at Edith Wilkerson’s party for Elsa Maxwell. . . . It was after 2 a. m., and the party had taken over the place.
20 March 36 "mothers" a tiny humming bird she found hopping around her studio lot. For obvious reasons, she named the bird "Jimmy Durante."
4 April 36 Pat DeCicco's appearance at the Trocadero with her caused some more eyebrow lifting
5 May 36 finds six of Marie Dressler's letters in a packing case she bought unopened at an auction. The first rush of fan mail contained offers to buy the souvenirs. Now she says they are outnumbered by letters offering to sell her relics of the late star.
21 May 36 once and for all, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, national college fraternity, is going to select its official ideal girl. John Zens, officer of the Hollywood alumni chapter, said he mailed to all active and alumni chapters a list of ten younger movie actresses, from which a "queen" will be selected this year. She will have her coronation June 13 at a ceremony here. The ten girls on the ballot are Mae Clark, Alice Faye, Betty Furness, June Travis, Margaret Lindsay, Betty Grable, June Gale, Kay Linaker, Ida Lupino and Ann Sothern. One hundred twelve active chapters and 200 alumni groups of the organization will be asked to vote.
4 June 36 starts a new fad by pinning gardenias in the middle of her sleeve
10 June 36 hearing that Jack Haley’s stand-in for Mister Cinderella, Billy Baxter, is to be married, she gives the job for her stand-in in the picture to the bride-to-be, Eleanor Crooker, who has appeared on the screen in dancing bits. The whole film company will attend the wedding.
23 June 36 wins scarcely a glance when she attends a cocktail party in a hat decorated with real carrots and lettuce
4 July 36 Walter Winchell does a David Letterman: “One of the speediest ways for a New Yorker to wear out his welcome in the movie center is to offer one of those lists of best ten... And so this department's list follows: 1. Olivia De Havilland (the cutest gal in town) 2. Virginia Bruce (the prettiest blonde) 3. Betty Furness (the second prettiest blonde) 4. Gail Patrick (the prettiest brunette) 5. Kay Francis (most chic) 6. Carole Lombard (prettiest legs) 7. Ginger Rogers (most graceful ballroom dancer) 8. Eleanor Powell (most unsophisticated) 9. Alice Joyce (most lovely) and 10. Joan Crawford (the most—most).
11 July 36 a tip for young swains seeking a "date" with Betty Furness: Be as homely as you wish, but be amusing! “I don't mind a homely man," says she, "but save me from a dull one.”
24 July 36 defines a sophisticated girl as "one who knows how to refuse a kiss without being deprived of it"
20 August 36 in a popularity poll, twelve Hollywood bachelors polled as to who is the “most eligible” bachelorette in the movie colony. Each named a different girl. Cesar Romero’s choice: “Betty Furness has everything a girl could have.”
5 September 36 if you believe her friends, she likes Allan Lane very much
13 October 36 she, whose hats have long been a Hollywood grievance, appears in New York in a dress with buttons marked from one to seven
31 October 36 hops off a train from New York with so many hat boxes it takes her mother, two porters, and Allan Lane to carry them to the car. While in New York, she colored her hair deep amber brown.
2 November 36 Allan Lane, who formerly spent his orchid money on her, now smiling on Anita Louise
5 November 36 she and Allan Lane have kissed and made up after that spat that lasted a week
20 November 36 she and Alan Lane have quarreled again; decided they just can’t get along
1 February 37 owns the world's smallest phonograph. It's so tiny its mechanism is housed in the case of a watch; it plays a record of special make, slightly smaller than a silver dollar.
3 February 37 in Hollywood the fight against influenza forces her and Stanley Morner to wear masks while rehearsing. Since a movie kiss is rehearsed 20 times before it satisfies director, it is a relief to get the masks off for the 3 real smacks that are filmed.
9 February 37 Friday being her birthday, Ann Sothern got a big cake. She conceived the idea of sending slices to all her friends and thereby hangs a tale that has Hollywood snickering. Ann gave the packages to her chauffeur to deliver. He stopped to see a picture show first, with the result that it was midnight when he got around to some of the homes. George Murphy took him for a burglar and held him at the point of a pistol until things could be explained, Joan Bennett, Betty Furness and others were routed out at an unseemly hour to receive their portion of cake.
14 February 37 Louella observes Betty spending her evenings watching Johnny Green rehearse—yes, it’s that serious. Green, a composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist, majored in economics at Harvard. He worked as a banking clerk in New York, but was bored with finance, quit his job and decided to find employment in his true love, music. 1932 found him in Southern California, doing the background music for Paramount pictures.
28 February 37 attends the $100,000 Santa Anita Handicap with Johnny Green
1 March 37 Paul Harrison hears: “Johnny Green's music is affetuoso when Betty Furness is around, and that's often.”
7 March 37 is now going bareheaded everywhere; she's fed up with those gags about her outlandish hats
5 April 37 Harrison Carroll spots: “Betty Furness and Johnny Green at the Cafe Lamaze. They are very thick these days.”
7 April 37 Harrison Carroll thinks it strange: “…Peggy Fears singing at the Trocadero instead of occupying a ringside table, but this toughest of audiences gave her a sincere ovation. Almost everybody in the room was a celebrity. Betty Furness was with Johnny Green, while Caesar Romero, her erstwhile admirer, squired fragile Frances Drake.”

20 April 37 is at the Trocadero the other night with Johnny Green and her table holds a cake with lighted candles
22 May 37 Louella Parsons writes: “Johnny Green's quick plane dash back to New York isn't entirely to settle plans for headlining that big radio show this summer. A much more personal reason is the contemplated divorce action between Johnny and his wife, Carol Falk, following a lengthy separation. When he returns, the way will be clear for Johnny and Betty Furness, who are constantly together and so devoted, to start planning bride-and-groom ideas of their own. The popular band leader has always been so reticent about his marriage, not many people here knew he had a wife living in the east.”
5 June 37 Harrison Carroll knows: “Incidentally, it was Johnny Green who was at the station to see Betty Furness off to New York.”
8 June 37 wears a novelty pin made out of a key to the door of her home
16 June 37 Louella predicts: “Johnny (Radio) Green host at a party for Betty Furness in honor of her fifth year in Hollywood; she will probably be Mrs. Green before 1938.”
Harrison Carroll spots her and Johnny Green lunching together at the Vendome. “This will probably be a match some day.”
3 August 37 her mother dies at age 51 from heart disease in her Park Avenue apartment. She leaves for the funeral, to be held on the fifth.
16 August 37 in Mexico City, she receives a call at 3 a.m. The operator told her "Robert Taylor from the studio" was calling. All in a dither, she accepts the call only to find it is a love-sick youth using Taylor's name to get her to the phone.
18 October 37 May Mann observes: “In the Lido, Betty Furness dances with Johnny Green. If they're not wed already, they will take the vows soon.”
30 October 37 is very busy these days seeing all the fall fashion shows. She is not only gathering ideas for her personal wardrobe, but also for the designing of costumes for her friends.
12 November 37 is on the advisory board of the Woodbury School of Fashion Design

23 November 37 Green’s first wife, Carol, obtains a Reno divorce, charging desertion. A few moments after the orchestra leader was informed Mrs. Green was awarded a decree, he and Betty filed notice of intention to wed, giving his age as 29 and hers as 21. His brother, Dick Green, who was courting Betty until Johnny entered the scene, will wed Betty Kern, Composer Jerome Kern's daughter.
25 November 37 Louella knows: “Betty Furness and Johnny Green so happy at a cafe—well they’ve been in love for a long time.”
26 November 37 marries Johnny Green late today in her Hollywood home. Only members of the immediate families attend the quiet ceremony. Wearing a white wedding gown of slipper satin, which she designed herself, and a shoulder-length white tulle veil, she is given away by her father. Richard Green, the groom's brother, is best man. Superior Judge Edward Brand read the brief, civil service, after the “Lohengrin Wedding March” was played while the bride walked down an improvised aisle. A reception was attended by dozens of film personalities, including Margaret Sullivan, Loretta Young, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Virginia Bruce, Franchot Tone and his wife Joan Crawford, and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Benny.
15 December 37 is probably the only actress who wears her engagement ring on her right hand. She isn’t trying to start a new style; it's just that her engagement gift is too large to wear on the same finger with her wedding ring.
18 December 37 she and Johnny return from their honeymoon tomorrow. They will live in her apartment for now.
6 January 38 Louella identifies: “That cute couple hiking every morning in slacks along the Sunset Strip is Johnny Green and his bride, Betty.”
17 January 38 the charm bracelet she wears with 150 bangles is being photographed by a picture magazine
22 January 38 although she possesses almost a hundred hats, there's only one chapeau she wears. It's a plain black velvet creation with a dark maroon rose as its sole ornament. The reason for her particular fondness for this hat was only recently discovered when she returned from a honeymoon trip in New York. Her husband didn't approve of her famous "vegetable plate" hat as well as her numerous other trick creations. Her new bonnet was purchased by Johnny—and she has agreed never to purchase a hat without his personal okay.
5 February 38 is the first in Hollywood to wear the interesting new clip pairs, featuring initials done in sign language. The individual clips are tiny hands. In black enamel, one represents the letter B, the other G. (for her new name Green). The hands extend out of elaborately jeweled clips done in emeralds, rubies and diamonds.
16 February 38 is making plans to have the small den in her Hollywood apartment made soundproof; she is afraid her husband may disturb the neighbors while composing his music during the wee hours.
2 April 38 during a lull in films, she is on stage in Santa Barbara in Golden Boy, playing opposite Francis Lederer, and falls in love with the stage
during the Golden Boy show, the audience thought it was part of the plot when Joseph Greenwald, a well known Broadway character actor, collapsed as he said, “All my life." But Greenwald's collapse was genuine; he had died of a heart attack. Not until members of the cast shouted for the curtains to be drawn did the audience know the truth. The audience was dismissed and all tickets were refunded. The troupe had been scheduled to open an engagement in San Francisco on Monday, and it was not decided whether the engagement would be filled.
4 August 38 Louella can’t believe “it’s true that the Betty Furness-Johnnie Green marriage is on the rocks, but it's the talk of New York even if Johnny did give her a big cocktail party just before she left the coast.”
6 August 38 Winchell receives a phone call from Johnny in Hollywood, “Very miserable because of the item by that woman that he and his bride, Betty Furness, have split. I told him you dislike denying other people's blunders. Betty is East to appear in upstate stock, no rift whatever ...”
Louella receives a grieving wire from Johnny Green who says “it ain't so about him and bride Betty Furness being wrecked romantically and that he didn’t even give her a cocktail party. He asks that I get Betty’s denial to add to his own, but we've been unable to reach her at the Washington Irving Theater in Tarrytown. I'm sure though that Betty would echo Johnny’s sentiments. And I’m happy to be in the wrong in this instance.”
18 August 38 a federal grand jury investigation loomed today in connection with Communist recruiting on Boston Common of volunteers to fight for the Loyalist forces in Spain. Several film stars have been named in connection with the charges. Edward F. Sullivan, special investigator probing un-American activities, said the Department of Justice was almost certain to order a special sitting of a federal grand jury to make the investigation after he submitted his evidence before the committee. Sullivan named some Hollywood celebrities as having contributed to the North American committee to aid Spanish democracy during a drive by the Spanish government to raise money for medical facilities. The list includes Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, James Cagney, Johnny Green, Florence Eldredge, Betty Furness, Gale Sondergaard, Ernest Hemingway, Nancy Carroll, Lewis Milestone, Ben Hecht, Lionel Stander, Clifford Odets, Upton Sinclair, George S. Kaufman, Elmer Rice, Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Franchot Tone and Joan Crawford. Sullivan said the names appeared on the side of an ambulance pictured on a circular which he turned over to the Dies committee.
18 September 38 Louella thinks, “Betty Furness, famous for trick hats, wore one that looked as if it had been taken out of grandma's attic.”
11 October 38 Winchell says she “and her bridegroom, Johnny Green, will try their luck in New York.”
6 April 39 Louella got it from the stork that Mr. and Mrs. Green “will increase the population in the fall.”
the stork gave the message to Winchell, too: “The Johnny Greens (Betty Furness) being kidded by orchestras who render: ‘Ten Baby Fingers, Ten Baby Toes’ because of their September rendezvous with the Blessed-Event man.”
26 September 39 gives birth to her daughter Babette, “Babbie,” at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan
5 October 39 Johnny Green, who used to wave the baton for Columbia pictures, and does now for the Johnny Presents programs on the air, has proved that he is a serious composer. He has finished a concerto, “Music for Elizabeth,” which Jose Iturbi will introduce at Carnegie Hall this season. "Elizabeth" happens to be Mrs. Johnny Green.
22 August 40 when you mention summer theatres these days you mention a "rash" that has affected the rank and file of the New York theatre. These days find literally scores of actors and actresses, her included, working out on the "reel barn" circuit. The actors can pick up some extra change; the playwrights can obtain a bird's-eye view of their brain children and detect flaws; the producers can have some sort of idea what may be best for fall production; and the customers can have some fun.
3 October 40 Louella found out: “Betty Furness, happily married to Johnny Green, is paying Hollywood a visit and Johnny's good friend, Cesar Romero, is taking her out.”
20 January 41 Jimmie Fiddler tries to set things straight: “Betty Furness, rumored rifting from Bandleader Johnny Green, is telling pals they couldn't be happier— and that she'd like a screen job.”
23 February 41 get her to talking and you'll discover she's still hankering for a return to the screen
28 February 41 Ken Morgan says it “looks like the Johnny Greens have split. She's the former Betty Furness. He's been out several times recently with Ginger Rogers.”
16 April 41 Winchell reports she and her hubby reconciled in New York
30 June 41 can be seen in the weekly run of Something Gay at the Ogunquit Playhouse
11 October 41 closes in Mr. Big after only 6 performances. A George S. Kaufman play, also in the cast were Fay Wray and Harry Gribbon.
12 October 41 will be heard on Walter Compton’s Double or Nothing radio show
2 March 42 her husband is now working on a Broadway musical, Yours for a Year, while she tours the East in a company of My Sister Eileen
5 November 42 Walter Winchell reports: “By Jupiter conductor Johnny Green and Betty Furness have reached that familiar decision.”
15 January 43 replaces Shirley Booth in the New York company of My Sister Eileen
19 January 43 it’s reported she and her husband will reconcile
3 February 43 Louella sees all: “At Mocambo Anne Shirley was doing a rhumba with Johnny Green, the band leader, who just recently separated from Betty Furness."
9 April 43 Louella Parsons pens: “In the days before Betty Furness married Johnny Green, orchestra leader, she was one of our most attractive younger actresses. Betty was the first to wear the trick hats, and she wore them very well. When she married Johnny she retired from the screen, but unfortunately their marriage did not work out. He is now here in the music department at MGM and she has been visiting Anne Shirley. Now the news is that Betty is about to sign a contract with MGM and stage a return. It is possible her first movie will be in Martha Cheavens I Cannot Sail Your Seas. She has been on the lot for the past few days and takes her final test Thursday.”
14 April 43 does a mean rumba at the Mocambo with old friend Cesar Romero
8 May 43 Snapshots of Hollywood collected at random by Louella: “Don Loper, who has been taking Ginger Rogers' ma to nightclubs the past few months, had a night off and escorted Betty Furness to the Mocambo.”
11 May 43 Louella notes her and Anne Shirley lunching with Charlie Rodgers. “Looks like a contract for one of them—Betty probably.”
26 May 43 her appearance with Johnny at Mocambo lifts eyebrows but doesn't mean a thing. He says they've still heading for divorce.
5 July 43 witnesses Betty Gable’s marriage to Harry James in Las Vegas
4 August 43 Louella receives a note from actress Anne Shirley “that she is at the Last Frontier at Las Vegas visiting Betty Furness who is ‘doing time’ there--her freedom from Johnny Green.”
11 September 43 Louella stands corrected: “After printing that Betty Furness could have done better for herself in Hollywood if she had continued to wear her trick hats, I get the following wire from her in Chicago: ‘The jobless Miss Furness who went to Hollywood to get a divorce and not a job is now with the Eastern company of Doughgirls. She did this with bows in her hair — and not a hat’”
20 September 43 Winchell notes: “The Johnny Greens (Betty Furness) have been put asunder.”
17 October 43 is in Doughgirls in Madison, Wisconsin, at the Parkway Theater. The play is staged by George S. Kaufman.
Mid-40s with acting work was slow and determined to be useful, she convinces her friend, designer Don Loper, to put her to work organizing the business/bookkeeping end of his enterprise
20 November 43 while she lives in New York with their daughter, in Hollywood Johnny Green marries actress Bunny Waters, who stands 6’-1” in her stockings. It’s her first marriage and his third. Recently, she was reported engaged to Al Jolson.
20 January 44 the Fourth War Loan campaign opens officially at Baltimore’s huge Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard with launching of the field’s 281st Liberty ship, S. S. Samchess, which is sponsored by her and Captain John W. Thompson, who recently returned from the Southwest Pacific
8 March 44 is columnist Charles G. Sampas’ idea of sweetness
21 March 44 Doughgirls plays Williamsport, Pennsylvania
4 April 44 plays one performance of Doughgirls in Charleston after playing seven months in Chicago and a record Boston engagement
11 April 44 her father dies at age 60; he was an executive of the National Carbon Company, Inc.
13 November 44 Dorothy Kilgallen reports: “Betty Furness will waltz down the aisle with Lt. Bud Ernst when he gets his divorce from Gwynn Pickford.” Ernst, at 6’-5” tall, is one foot taller than she is.
45 makes her first television appearance in “Women in Wartime”
6 June 45 marries Hugh B. Ernst, Jr., 34-year-old radio executive, recently discharged from the U.S. Army Air Forces. It’s his fourth marriage and her second. His previous wives were Althea Henley, a Ziegfeld Follies girl; Lyda Roberti, a stage, screen and radio comedienne; and Gwynne Pickford, Mary Pickford's niece. Bud grew up in show business and music. His father managed Paul Whiteman, and the gangling kid knew all the greats. He’s always wanted to go first class to do it differently. With loads of pull in New York in the musical and theatrical worlds, he went to Hollywood when he was 19 and became a radio announcer. By his own talents he worked himself up to the position of radio producer.
Summer 45 is in TV briefly, earning $50 a week as commentator on DuMont’s "Fashions Coming and Becoming." She has to use some of her salary to replace the combs that keep melting under the intense heat of the lamps directed on her head.
her husband works hard and makes good money. Due to the housing shortage, they live in a hotel suite with her daughter Barbara. Sometimes he comes home and finds her heating Barbara's food in the bathroom.
Queen for a Day, produced by her husband, has only been on the air about a month but is already is one of the hottest things in radio.
11 July 45 Louella reports that “Bette Davis and Lieut. Bob Tablinger who used to be a familiar pair dining tete a tete. Seated next to them was Gwenn Pickford with her bridegroom Bud Ornstein and Bud Ernst her first husband—of all people. Ernst is married to Betty Furness. They were all guests of Mary Pickford.” Ernst is in Hollywood on business.
Early September 45 in Southern California on business, her husband calls her to say that it looks like Hollywood will be their headquarters. They let Perry Como rent their Park Avenue apartment and settle into a Beverly Hills hotel bungalow.
September 45 moves from the hotel into Danny Kaye’s house
7 September 45 she and her husband are spotted at the Beverly Tropics
Fall 45 the radio show calls them back to New York. She takes a dim view of their constant moving at the whim of the show. Her husband is in New York 10 days, in which she hardly sees him at night, when he is off to Hollywood again—where he’ll remain until early 1946.
February 46 she finally gets together with her husband, who persuades her to move to his Beverly Hills apartment. Even in the same city, they have a hard time getting together.
21 March 46 Ernst confirms she is in Vegas to end their marriage and “everybody is happy.”
May 46 while she’s in Las Vegas, her husband goes to Chicago, where he meets with the owner of the radio show. He draws up a new schedule and hires more people. He gets evenings to himself, calls her, and they start dating again. Now, in three weeks they see more of each other than in their 15 months of marriage.
1 May 46 charging mental cruelty, she is granted an uncontested divorce in Las Vegas. After 14 months of marriage she says, “We just couldn’t make a go of it.” No other woman was involved. The reason for their turbulent marriage—they saw so little of each other. His job took him away most evenings, wining and dining clients, and the show bounced him back and forth between the coasts. A property settlement was previously arranged.
12 May 46 is back in New York after doing the six weeks of Nevada residence necessary to get her divorce from Bud Ernst. On the first night back, she was out with the same Ernst. "I spent six weeks to get rid of him," she said," and when I go back to town, the only lodging I could get was in the same hotel where he lives—and in the next room to his.”
29 May 46 Harrison Carroll spots her and Bob Walker, “a Mocambo twosome.”
31 May 46 wants to be one of the first June brides; she will remarry Bud Ernst one minute after midnight in Las Vegas. They were just divorced one month ago.
1 June 46 is married one minute after midnight in Las Vegas in a double-ring ceremony performed by Reverend Albert C. Melton of Little Church of the West. Ernst is quoted: “We were silly before and behaved like children. Now, however, we've grown up and this time it will stick.
30 July 46 Winchell spots Bud Ernst “reciting Browning to Chicago showgirl Norma Roberts.”
28 August 46 attends Virginia Bruce’s wedding. Also at the ceremony are the Gary Coopers, Gene Tierney and husband Oleg Cassini, and Bud Ernst.
December 46 she and her husband rent Anne Shirley’s Beverly Hills home
15 March 47 Dorothy Kilgallen says: “Actress Betty Furness will join Don Loper's expensive fashion outfit.”
48 performs on the live TV show “Studio One.” An actress who is supposed to advertise Westinghouse products gets panicky at the dress rehearsal and completely chokes up and can’t do it, so she fills in. The company is so impressed that they offer her a contract to promote their products. For the next 10 years, she will be their on-air spokesperson and become a household name with her “You can be sure...if it’s Westinghouse.”
16 August 48 Edith Gwynn reports: “Betty Furness, having scored a hit in The Voice of the Turtle on the stage here, is making no bones about wanting a screen comeback. Ten years ago Director George Cukor raved over what a fine actress she is; but said she was a type he didn't know what to do with until she was 'thirtyish.’”
28 December 48 to Charles G. Gampas it “seems ages since I last heard from pretty Betty Furness.”
23 February 50 Jimmy fiddler reports her getting a Reno divorce
27 February 50 Kilgallen imparts: “Betty Furness estranged husband is back from Reno without the divorce, but it doesn't mean a reconciliation. He discovered he couldn't remain away from his work for the necessary six weeks.”
Early April 50 she and her husband have a sandwich together; it will be the last time she sees him alive. She tells him of her television successes, and he seems to be pleased. He tells her about his prospects, and they sound promising.
11 April 50 39-year-old ex-Army flyer Bud Ernst phones Neil Maguire, Journal-American assistant city editor, from his staid East Side Westbury Hotel, upset over the crumble of his marriage to actress Betty Furness. Maguire tries to soothe Ernst by telling him to think things over and to call Betty, all the while scribbling a note telling a reporter to rush to the hotel. "I'm at the end of my rope. Get a reporter here in 10 minutes. Send up and you'll get a story." After hanging up, Ernst places the muzzle of a new 20-gauge shotgun into his mouth and pulls the trigger. A clipping of a newspaper Broadway column reporting that Ernst and Furness are to be divorced is found in the room. There are two notes, one still in the typewriter. One asks that Miss Furness be notified. The other is to "Jack," "I am tired of everything and I'm sorry for what I'm about to do."
Betty Furness identifies the body of Bud Ernst, having been taken to his hotel by the police waiting for her on the set of “Studio One,” during which broadcast he killed himself. He had sent her a note, through the mail, which she received the day after his death, saying, “Sorry, Mommy."
show business reaction is unanimous sympathy for Furness. Ernst was generally considered erratic. He had a luncheon reservation at the swanky Colony for the next noon.
13 June 50 Dorothy Kilgallen announces: “Betty Furness is being courted by Louis Snyder, an advertising executive.”
Ed Sullivan thinks she prefers Lou Snyder
29 June 50 Ed Sullivan spots her and Lou Snyder a twosome at Gilmore's
1 August 50 John Crosby writes: “For my money, the best door-opener in the business is Miss Betty Furness, the Westinghouse girl. When she opens a refrigerator, she gets her whole body into it, not just her wrist. She's also the most polished oven door opener now operating. Another year and she'll be ready for a Cadillac door.”
19 September 50 Ed Sullivan reports Dave Garroway is on the long-distance phone to her
28 September 50 Cesar Romero renews his friendship with her in New York
29 September 50 debuts as hostess of the new television show "Penthouse Party"
1 October 50 Dorothy Kilgallen tells: “Betty Furness and Dave Garroway are running up a big Chicago-to-New York phone bill.”
29 December 50 Ed Sullivan thinks she and Robert (ABC) Quarry are romancing
19 February 51 her $4,000 fur coat is stolen from her CBS TV dressing room
25 May 51 Dorothy Kilgallen thinks “Betty Furness and Robert Q. Lewis are a new duet.”
25 July 51 Westinghouse likes her so much doing their commercials that she records them on film when she goes on vacation
2 November 51 according to Louella: “Nobody at the Place Pigalie has figured out the identity of Betty Furness' steady date, but he's handsome and wears a Van Dyke.”
14 November 51 a writer muses on why she’s been so successful: “So when Betty delivers a commercial she's a clever actress and a successful home-maker and mother telling other nice people some of the things they'll want to know about appliances that can make their own lives easier and happier…The job is fairly exacting. She confers with the agency scriptwriter, goes through the demonstration business with a Westinghouse distributor or sales promotion manager, poses for pictures, does two or three hours camera rehearsal with the agency television director, and runs through the dress rehearsal with the full show in the studio. Toughest part she says is working alone—playing to a camera with no cues. All in all, save for one small fear, Betty Furness feels her television future is bright and secure. The fear? She has a horror that someday her small daughter will turn on the television set at home and see ‘Mommy in one of the westerns she made in Hollywood!’”
52 receives the "Woman of the Year" award from Variety
18 March 52 Children swarm her at a local fair in Gastonia, North Carolina; they lost their shyness when they heard her speak. They knew that voice and that face. he’s a familiar person who has been in their homes so often on TV. She gave them autographed children’s cookbooks.
25 April 52 Earl Wilson says she will earn over $125,000 in the next 16 months making commercials
7-26 July 52 Westinghouse, sole sponsor the Democratic and Republican conventions in Chicago, doesn’t want to be charged with commercializing a national convention. At the same time they want to get their million or two million dollars worth. She will end up with more time in front of the cameras than practically any other person at the convention. "They said I'd do maybe twenty commercials a day. I've done five in an hour…Out there they're making history and I'm in here selling dishwashers. I'll have to get back to New York and read the newspapers to find out who won."
31 July 52 after starring in both the Republican and Democratic conventions, she announces she will be in Chicago on August 9 to hold a convention of prospective husbands. She jokingly invited all candidates for Mr. Furness to appear in the Chicago Amphitheatre at 2:30 p.m. She quipped: "The hall holds 10,000 people, but I would be happy if two eligible males showed up." She admitted that she carried away more cash for her convention chores of plugging electrical appliances over TV than anyone else, but she trembled, "What if it doesn't last? A husband is like money in the bank. I find as I get older I am more particular and less desirable. I'd like a man who is plump, placid and not psychotic. In fact, I'd settle for one who just wasn't married." Her big worry is what to do with him after she gets him. She murmured: "I wouldn't mind if he had some money. Gosh knows how long mine will hold out — but he simply can't have too many clothes, I don't have much closet space left." She doesn't give a whoop whether her dream boy is Democrat or a Republican. She insists the prospective husband ought to know that she received over 1,000 telegrams from people who wanted her for vice-president. “But believe me, if I find me a husband on my Chicago visit, he won't have to worry about me running for office. After the Democrats and the Republicans got through, the only thing I wanted to run for was my life."
6 August 52 "Naturally I'd like to be an enormous success on Broadway, but I'm grateful I have a spot of my own. And I think I'm likely to last in show business a lot longer, standing in front of a refrigerator. I understand they're here to stay."
17 August 52 in Hollywood for a vacation, she wins the nomination for the "Most Seen" TV personality at the Chicago political conventions. She shows off a front-page newspaper political cartoon — a father glued to a TV set with his small son saying: "Who's winning, Pop — Ike, Taft or Betty Furness?" She frames the original drawing and hangs it in her Manhattan apartment.
August 52 Fox offers her a role in Taxi, and she turns it down. “I’m turning down all movie offers because I just can't afford to accept them. I make too much money in television. Why for doing the commercials one night a week on “Studio One” I get more money than MGM paid me the last year of my contract there. That was back in 1938. Don't start adding up my age, because I'm 36."
about marriage: “I'm thinking about it, but nobody else is."
21 August 52 prevailed upon her sponsors for a letter of protection. It seems all her friends are asking her for discounts on the appliances she demonstrates. When asked now, she pulls out a letter which says in effect that nobody gets a discount for a free refrigerator, including Miss Furness.
4 November 52 won many a vote pledge through her sparkling appearances on television from the Chicago conventions. She will wind up her "political career" on election night when she will present her Westinghouse demonstrations in New York over the CBS network
21 November 52 according to Dorothy Kilgallen: “Betty Furness and Louis Calhern are in high gear.”
23 November 52 throws a wingding at the Mocambo for the press and friends. "It's just me," she said in the invitations. "No previews, no speeches and no free samples."
7 December 52 "Let's face it, boy, my job is to keep ‘em from going to the bathroom,” says she in reply to a question about her career as pitcher of TV commercials. “I can’t say I like being identified as the gal who does the commercials, but I can’t fight it either.” She just signed a new contract with her sponsor, and it includes a new show to be titled "Meet Betty Furness." Naturally, she'll do her own' commercials. "I'll even sweep out the joint if they ask me!"
11 December 52 announces her new home parlor show, “Meet Betty Furness,” which will start in January. Broadcast from New York, she describes it as "a program in which I do everything but sweep the floor." As for a return to movies, "I haven't made one for 14 years," she snorted. "Hollywood can be brave about it a little longer."
January – July 53 hosts “Meet Betty Furness,” a daily talk show sponsored by Westinghouse on NBC
22 June 53 with two months off from TV, she does summer stock for four weeks and spends the second month relaxing in Hollywood. She says she has to get back on the stage for a while to "restore my confidence—and realize I can say something besides, ‘You can be sure—if it's Westinghouse.’”
6-11 July 53 is not giving up TV but decided to return to the stage this summer to see if she can still act. She does Affairs of State at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine. The following week she’ll be appearing in Dennis, Massachusetts.
30 July 53 appears in The Country Girl in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania
10 August 53 Louella reports: “Jennings Lang’s most recent date at the Mocambo is Betty Furness, the ice box sales lady, in town for a month’s vacation.”
22 August 53 Harrison Carroll pens: “Pat Wymore was clubbing at the Mocambo with Errol's long-time pal Al Davis. Ring siding the same night were Evelyn Keyes with Mike Todd and Betty Furness with Jennings Lang. Somebody said that Emmy Burlingham had flown back to New York and somebody else asked, ‘Where's Don Loper?" ‘Don't be silly,’ flipped Betty. ‘Don always is the perfect gentleman. He is escorting Emmy back to her doorstep—at 811 Fifth Avenue.’”
13 November 53 Winchell spies Cesar Romero and Betty Furness at the Stork, “His favorite femme on this coast.”
24 November 53 she and Cesar Romero gab at the Embers — and not about refrigerators
1 January 54 Faye Emerson pens: “Betty Furness is another one who always looks beautifully turned out, and I don't know how she has the time to do it.”
23 January 54 from Earl Wilson’s column: “Dave Garroway and Betty Furness re-resumed.”
March 54 her cookbook, written with Westinghouse's chief home economist Julia Kiene, will be published this fall
19 March 54 Earl Wilson says “Joan Crawford doesn't care who knows she's 48 on Mar. 23. At a fantastic birthday party for her at the Harwyn, the most enthusiastic photographer was Betty Furness, who carried the flash bulbs (8 of them) in her neckline. As she left, I heard her say to her escort, ‘Come on, darling, bring the camera bag,’ and saw it being toted out by no less than Jennings Lang, exfriend of Joan Bennett.”
21 March 54 Louella comments: “The serious turn in the romance between Betty Furness and Jennings Lang in New York, and the gossip that it may lead straight to the marriage license bureau.”
19 April 54 Don Loper sends her into a gale of laughter at the Mocambo with an amusing story
24 April 54 she and her daughter Barbara have a common love for music. Their collection of both classical and popular selections help while away the evenings in their New York apartment. Barbara is a talented pianist. And although Betty's singing is purely nonprofessional, the two often team up for song fests. The two also knit beautifully.
April 54 her hobby is photography. She has almost every kind of photographic equipment and recently had three layouts of her photos in national magazines.
26 April 54 she now has an understudy
16 May 54 Winchell declares: “They say Betty Furness and Director Jennings Lang are blazing over the Broadway-to-Hollywood phones.”
21 May 54 will open a refrigerator door on June 1 and find an Outstanding Salesmanship award from the Sales Executives Club of New York
9 July 54 Earl Wilson bangs out: “Betty Furness and Dave Garroway were Harwyn hand holders.”
12 July 54 during her eight-week European vacation, June Graham will take over for her Westinghouse duties.
August 54 is given the real star treatment in England, where stories of her TV eminence in the scullery have been more widely printed than about most of our top TV entertainers
5 August 54 vacationing in Cannes, she writes columnist Lee Mortiner: “This is like Coney Island with shorter bathing suits."
20 September 54 vacations in sunny Southern California, having fun reading her commercial scripts poolside—that is until she visited CBS TV for some test shots. The experts promptly told her to stay out of the sun—she was coming through the cameras looking like a chimney sweep
21 September 54 Dorothy Kilgallen sounds off: “Betty Furness and Dave Garroway are chumming again.”
2 December 54 Charles Sampas reminisces: “Betty Furness was one of the best waltzers I ever danced with.”
17 December 54 Marion Davies gifts her with a mink telephone
Erskine Johnson passes the word: “Leo Guild tells about Betty Furness visiting a doctor for a sore throat just before doing a TV color show. When told that her throat would have to be painted, she said: ‘What color, doc? I'm on a color show tomorrow night.’”
29 December 54 Faye Emerson suggests a New Years Eve resolution for her: “Please, Betty Furness, resolve to do one good dramatic show next year so your fans will be reminded of what a fine actress you are. I'll come over and do the commercials for you if you if you think I can handle them.”
8 January 55 Bob Hope gives a party at El Morocco for the troupe he'd taken to Greenland over New Year's. "It was so cold there; when we stepped off the plane—Betty Furness opened the door."
10 April 55 she credits her success to a habit she couldn't manage to break—eating. She scarcely has time these days to give her habit a decent workout. “I'd like to tell you I went into commercials for some glamorous reason or because it’s what I'd always wanted to do," she said as she swept a comb through, her reddish hair in her CBS dressing room. "Actually it was nothing like that. After I left Hollywood, I was living in New York and trying to get any kind of work I could. I had one large rule: anyone who wanted me for a job got me!” Still, she would like to do a play again. "But I can't afford it if it means giving up this job," she emphasizes. However, she can have her cake and take at least a few nibbles at it as well. She has a new exclusive three-year contract with her sponsor which gives her certain privileges most important of which, she says, is spelled "M-O-N-E-Y." Another gives her permission to do 12 guest shots a year. "Obviously not for a competitive sponsor," she adds.
20 June 55 groaning about her old movies on TV: “I made 35 pictures in Hollywood. And, honestly, I made some good ones. But the two released to TV aren't very good. In fact, I look at them and can't remember having made them.”
21 June 55 is beckoned to the Westport Country Playhouse in a revival of Brief Moment
10 July 55 Lee Mortimer knows that if some of Dave Garroway's bow ties look different, it's because they're not the store-bought kind. “Betty Furness hand knits them for him.”
18 August 55 her daughter, Babbie, is working as an apprentice at the Buck's County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania
26 August 55 Winchell notices “Betty Furness, the refrigerator gal, heated up by Cesar Romero.”
4 October 55 Mike Connolly sez: “In Hollywood very few recognized Betty Furness when she was here recently. She’s hard to spot without her ice box.”
11 October 55 as a reward for her commercial spieling on TV's "Studio One," Westinghouse equipped the kitchen of her New York apartment with all the electrical appliances she displays.
When Ed Murrow's "Person to Person" crew moved into her apartment for her guesting on the show, the chief CBS electrician checked the place, beamed and said: "Miss Furness, for the first time since this show started we won't have to run in any cables from the street. You have "enough electricity in your kitchen to run the whole show. In fact, you may have enough to run the entire CBS network.”
17 October 55 Dorothy Kilgallen pencils: “Betty Furness is making Jennings Lang’s visit to New York more pleasant.”
26 October 55 she and Westinghouse will be looking at you via your TV sets during the 1956 political conventions and on election night. The huge appliance firm shelled out $5 million for the coverage via CBS-TV. So if you are uncertain about the candidates, you'll know that Betty will there looking as charming as ever.
31 October 55 “Studio One” will be seven years young next Monday…it has won 39 major TV awards and has made Betty Furness more popular in the kitchen than a midnight snack
13 November 55 Winchell hears “Crooner Andre Phillipe is making with the baby talk at Betty Furness, who invented it!”
5 December 55 Faye Emerson inks: “Stars and international celebrities present at the opening of Rogers and Hammerstein's new musical, Pipe Dream. Two personalities, Dave Garroway and Betty Furness, made one of the handsomest couples. Their fans mobbed them.”
21 December 55 Ed Sullivan thinks she prefers Dave Garroway
30 December 55 Dorothy Kilgallen lets it be known: “Betty Furness has become quite accustomed to her mink telephone, branched out with other furs. This Yule season several of her Christmas decorations were trimmed in bunny fur, others in genuine ermine."
14 March 56 it’s announced that she will be the guest of honor at the ladies luncheon of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival at Winchester, Virginia, on April 26.
21 April 56 will have the unique job of appearing on television more than the politicians at the Democratic convention in Chicago, beginning August 13 and at the Republican confab in San Francisco a week later. "I'm anxious to see if any of the politicians remember me. There was one governor who took a shine to me last time and every time I went into the convention hall he'd wave to me!" Her friend actress Anne Shirley will go along to keep a complicated card index on what Betty wears every day—tailored outfits in the daytime and bouffant skirts and low necklines when the speeches go on into the late hours. She is allowed a maximum of four two-minute commercials an hour. Ninety commercials have been written for her, but she will repeat some for a grand total of 150 for both conventions. "Each commercial has to be integrated," she explained. "If there's a heated debate on the floor I figure it's time for me to be quiet. If it's dull, it behooves me to be brisk. Or if there's an emotional speech, then I follow with a gentle commercial. I want people to be glad to see me come back, not to groan, well, here she is again." She seldom is allowed to leave her special studio installed in each convention hall. So she has to eat the "props"—the food seen inside her refrigerators and ovens. "It's a good thing I don't work for cigarette or soap company," she said.
5 May 56 she and Murray Matheson are making it a happy habit
2 July 56 Earl Wilson spies her and Cesar Romero examining refrigerators
17 July 56 is visited in Hollywood by ex-husband Johnny Green while his current wife Bunny is in Arizona with the children
19 July 56 Dorothy Manners “ran into Betty Furness flashing around town in a new haircut and looking as chic as she does opening refrigerator doors on TV, and she tells me her commercial sponsors have given her permission, for the first time, to make movies. ‘If the studios can sell out their inventories to TV, I guess TV can spare me to movies,’ Betty laughs. Last year, when the ban was on, she was offered three good screen roles which she had to turn down.”
14 August 56 Lydia Lane notices: “When Betty Furness greeted me by her swimming pool in the rented home in Beverly Hills last weekend just before she went to Chicago and the Democratic Convention, she was wearing a smart bathing suit. I took one look at her flawless figure and I knew a body like hers was no accident. When I remarked about this Betty agreed. ‘The answer is constant vigilance. I like to have a good appearance and I am willing to work for it. The first step toward any beauty is in caring. You have to exchange action for excuses. I weigh myself every single day,’ Betty confided. "If the scale shows I'm two or three pounds over, off they go. But as a rule my weight is constant except when there are too many parties. I think it is rude to a hostess to accept her invitation to dinner and not eat it because you are dieting…Being on TV and being able to watch myself on a monitor has made me realize that no home should be without a full length mirror. Look in it when you're deciding on what to wear before going out.”
23 August 56 Louella spills the beans: “Canadian-born Leslie Nielsen (MGM's new hotshot) hopes he gets his American citizenship through before the November elections. He's getting in practice watching both conventions. So for, he's voting for Betty Furness.”

28 December 56 was recently in Hollywood where she attended a party at the home of Charles Lederer, the author-producer. After midnight she wandered into the kitchen and opened the door of the refrigerator — a scene familiar to millions of TV viewers. Just then, Lederer walked in. He glanced at this scene and said: "Oh, I beg your pardon; I thought I'd turned off my TV set."
8 January 57 her press agent is leaking his client's salary — $100,000 per year, more than any other pitchman. Or girl.
13 August 57 Louella makes known: “Betty Furness, whose face is more familiar than members of the Senate and the House combined, got a packet on TV, but returned east to do a play in summer stock for a bag of peanuts.”
23 September 57 she writes to Hedda: ”We played The Minotaur in Westbury, not good enough for Broadway, but a fascinating experience for me meeting Sidney Lumet, the best director I've ever worked with. His wife, Gloria Vanderbilt, is charming and was lovely in the play.”
31 October 57 Erskine Johnson imparts: “Looks like Betty Furness will follow “Studio One” to Hollywood. And that's more than one thing she is happy about. She's anxious to grab some movie loot.”
7 November 57 attends El Morocco’s 25th anniversary with her daughter
21 December 57 moves to Hollywood with "Studio One." The show's new star policy means upcoming shows with such flicker names as Richard Carlson and Joan Bennett.
4 January 58 rents Harriet Parsons' Beverly Estates home for five months
16 January 58 Sheilah Graham authors: “Betty Furness, who is pencil slim already, was spotted at the new Slenderella in Beverly Hills. Betty is the happiest girl since her television sponsor transferred the show to Hollywood, her favorite city.
24 January 58 Winchell tells: “Betty Furness and George Lloyd (whoever he?) keep the fires aglow at The Living Room.”
13 March 58 Marie Torre apprises: “In the welt of rumors surrounding the future of ‘Studio One’, certainly not a leading purveyor of commendable drama since it left New York for Hollywood's sunny comfort, one shapely participant remains remarkably cool. Of course Betty Furness has got wind of the ‘talk’ about the show's return to Gotham. And she’s heard back- stage gossip about an impending cancellation for the series, which has been her bread and butter for 9 well-fed years. Officials involved are conspicuously mum on both matters, but women tell all, they say, and Betty—bless her babbling spirit—may have inspired the rule. ‘I'm glad,’ she remarks openly, ‘I have a short- term lease on my Beverly Hills apartment…Frankly, I don't even think Westinghouse knows at this point. The gloomy rumors persist, but the other day a bunch of Westinghouse dealers came to town and they thought the show was marvelous even improved since the move. So what can you think! All I know is that Westinghouse will have to make a decision along about the first of April, which is option time. Meanwhile, I'm holding on to my New York apartment.’”
March 58 signs a new deal whereby she will do commercials on any or all Westinghouse shows. “But don't think I'm without feeling about the future of 'Studio One' or working in California. The truth is I’m torn. I think California is a love place to place to live and work. The stages and the dressing rooms and the ladies' rooms are all new and shiny. And the traffic and the smog aren't as bad as the publicity will have you believe. But I'm also a New Yorker, and for the life of me, I don’t know why television can't live in both places. Why do we have to have these armed little camps on both sides?’”
27 April 58 Dorothy Kilgallen thinks “Betty Furness usually has more fun than anyone else at parties with her lens and light meter.”
16 June 58 Hedda inks: “I saw Michael Wilding and his new wife at Les Ambassadeurs. Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Mills, the owners of the place, gave a party for Betty Furness. Don Loper, Col. Charles C. Northrup and myself and five others and told each of us we were honor guests. ‘Just to make you all happy,’ said they. Betty Furness is being lionized here. She's the highest paid commercial artist on TV and the British worship success, especially when it's embodied in a neat little package named Betty.”
17 June 58 Hedda is surprised: “You could have knocked me over with my own thoughts when I walked into the Ritz bar to join Betty Furness, Don Loper, and Col. Charles C. Northup, and found Betty in a flowered sack dress. Now the sack, which was created in Paris, has been accepted by some of our shapeliest girls, and why I wouldn't know. I spoke my piece to Betty and when I finished, she said, ‘Your criticism is mild compared to my TV fans who wrote thousands of letters in protest when I wore it on one of my programs. I guess I'm going through growing pains because here I'm into it again.'”
27 June 58 Earl Wilson gives out: “Betty Furness is wearing one of those wigs and looks terrible in it. She was happy when I told her so because she knew it was a compliment to her natural appearance."
29 June 58 vacationing in Monaco, she causes some stares at a gala with a wig. It made her hair look like she had combed it with an egg beater. She also wore a brightly hued sack dress that was a rib to her escort by designer Don Loper, who long has fought the sack look. As the two entered the International Sporting Club, a fan asked, "Does that dress light up?" Said Loper, "It already has."
1 July 58 Erskine Johnson enlightens: “The doll in the TWA plane seat next to Frank Sinatra on his trip to Monaco, via Rome, was red-haired Betty Furness. It was a Jetstream o romantic looks all the way and a Hollywoodite, who should know, says Betty F. is the gal who broke up his romance with Betty Bacall.”
11 September 58 two of television's first ladies join forces for the forthcoming TV season in the Westinghouse Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz show. For Betty Furness and Lucille Ball it's really a reunion. "We knew each other in our teens at the RKO lot. I don’t know if we actually appeared in movies together, but we knew each other, and we remember each other.” Betty will do the commercials. “Of course, people like Lucy will do the comedy. I represent the sponsor, so I'll stay as I've been — no gag stuff.”
58 insists on being busy, and if she isn't asleep, she's probably pursuing her interests of still photography or needlepoint. "I never stop working. I make needle point things, and I use them. Right now I'm working on a needlepoint rug. It'll take me two years to do. That'll keep me busy."
24 September 58 arrives in San Antonio for the opening of the Parade of Homes. She flies by helicopter to each of the five sites.
7 January 59 Sheilah Graham chronicles: “Betty Furness and ex-husband Johnny Green were lunching at the Cafe Naples where most of the Columbia Studio folks eat every day. Johnny and Betty have remained good friends and meet frequently to discuss matters pertaining to their daughter.”
26 May 59 Earl Wilson spots her dancing at the Harwyn with Bill Dozier
29 May 59 she and her daughter depart for Europe; it’s the first time for the two to travel to the Continent together. Barbara is a junior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she is majoring in dramatics. They will visit Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence and Paris before returning to New York July 11. Betty will still appear each week on TV, though. "We filmed sufficient product demonstrations in Hollywood to last until we return."
6 June 59 in Rome, she celebrates her 10th anniversary as product demonstrator for her sponsor on the Westinghouse Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz show doing as Romans do. "And that," she maintains “is not watching CBS-TV."
59 is one of television's true veterans. Only two TV performers — Ed Sullivan and Bob Smith (of "Howdy Doody" fame) have a longer continual on camera record.
Summer 59 hostess the Brussels World's Fair Westinghouse exhibit
7 June 59 there's a fixed notion in the minds of many viewers that she once couldn't get a refrigerator door open in the course of a commercial. "If I could make a one dollar bet with everyone who believes that — and collect — I could retire. It never happened to me. It happened to June Graham who was taking my place one night.”
59 lives in New York and commutes to the West Coast by plane, usually shooting between 10 and 15 product demonstrations on each trip. In addition to television work, she journeys to all parts of the nation for personal appearances on behalf of her sponsor on the average of a dozen times each year. This doesn't leave too much at her fashionable eastside apartment in New York her to entertain her closest friends, which list includes the Walter Cronkites, whose two-year-old son Walter Leland Cronkite III is her godchild. While her list of friends is a long one, she is most likely to be seen at the theater in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rodgers, Anne (Shirley) and Charles Lederer, the Nathaniel Benchleys, or Cesar Romero.
hopes — as do her multitude of fans — that she'll still be working at the same job for a second decade. But if she's replaced, she hopes it will be by her daughter, Barbara, who has already shared a couple of television appearances with her. "The father-son inheritance in show business is a long and honored one. Wouldn't it be something if we inaugurated the first mother-daughter tradition in television?"
26 July 59 reports to sheriff's deputies the disappearance of an $8,000 star sapphire ring from her Sunset Strip apartment. She noticed the ring missing when packing for a trip to Chicago. Deputies said there was no sign of forced entry to her apartment.
1 August 59 loses her job of opening refrigerator doors on Desilu Playhouse next season; Lucy and Desi will take over the chore
Early 60s inspired by her exposure to politics, becomes active as a volunteer for the Democratic Party, working alongside Lady Bird Johnson, recruiting workers for VISTA, one of the programs in the War On Poverty
7 February 60 Winchell’s words: “Betty Furness and Hollywood's Fred DeCordova are Casing Each Other.”
16 July 60 Earl Wilson scoops: “Betty Furness bought a bikini here—guess she's going to wear it to the Republican Convention in Chicago, where it'll really be hot.”
July 60 she will be selling appliances for her third set of national conventions. She will be joined by her daughter. "I love the conventions. Where else can a girl find such a ready made audience waiting for her to sell her products…I bought more than $5,000 worth of new clothes for the conventions, and it was my own money.
10 November 60 election night coverage on CBS marked the end of a long television relationship by mutual agreement: that of Westinghouse and Betty Furness, who has been its television saleswoman since 1949. Her contract expired at midnight, but she kept changing her costume and plugging the products until dawn.
19 December 60 in a shift of corporate advertising policy, the faces of two of television's best known saleswomen are missing from the nation's screen: Betty Furness and Betty Crocker. Our Betty will continue on in a consultative capacity with Westinghouse. "It's too soon to go firmly on the record about this, but there's no question that I'm meeting some resistance. Obviously I don't leave Westinghouse to do the same thing for somebody else—at the same time I wouldn't turn my back on all commercials. But I did feel that if I were going to be able to do anything else, I would have to make a clean break. In the past couple of years I haven't been able to clear enough time ahead to take any acting jobs.”
61-63 is president of the New York Chapter of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
21 February 61 returns to TV with a regular program after 10 years of doing commercials. It’s a 90-minute midweek show with a Newark station.
19 May 61 arrives at the Emmy Awards dinner wearing a red gown whose color and material matched the napkins and tablecloths. She tells her dinner companion: "Please don't wipe your hands on me."
6 June 61 will be chairwoman of a hospitality committee which will play host to the International Assembly of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York November 4 to 11. Three thousand foreign participants are expected.
61 does a weekend radio show, Weekend Radio Service, in which she interviews celebrities
7 July 61 Earl Wilson jumped the gun: “I phoned Betty Furness about the rumor she might be marrying Dave Garroway. ‘Oh, PLEASE! Whoever said that gets the award for conclusion-jumping. We had dinner ONCE. (But thanks for checking)’”
15 July 61 becomes the first woman president in the five-year history of the New York chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
25 August 61 her daughter Barbara Sturtevant Green weds Denton McCoy Snyder
28 August 61 Hedda has fun: “The Johnny Greens' wedding party in their garden for his and Betty Furness' daughter, Barbara, was a humdinger. The bride wore a white satin and lace gown complete with train, designed by Don Loper. There was an elaborate buffet and an orchestra for dancing. It seems everybody was there — the Charlie Brackens, Arthur Freeds, Cesar Romero, George Sidneys, Adolph Deutsches, Dominick Dunnes, Martin Gangs. The bride's mother carried out that new shade of pink that several bridesmaids wore.
29 September 61 Dorothy Kilgallen spies: “Betty Furness and Dave Garroway have been making the night spots as a twosome.”
27 October 61 Earl Wilson tells: “Betty Furness, dancing with Composer Johnny Green at a party at Luchow's, said, ‘Here's another one I'm not going to marry’ — referring to recent rumors she and Dave Garroway might. And, anyway, she and Green already had married — and parted — away back.”
10 August 62 is a commentator on weekday CBS radio program Dimensions of a Woman’s World
August 62 columnist Bob Foster writes: “Betty Furness made just about the most sense of any of the many radio commentators in telling the story of the death of Marilyn Monroe. She recalled Miss Monroe’s statement in a recently published interview that ‘sometimes it makes you a little bit sad because you'd like to meet somebody kind of on face value. It's nice to be included in people’s fantasies, but you also like to be accepted for your own sake.’ Marilyn, said Miss Furness, ‘wanted to be loved for herself and not for the magnificent shell that the public thought of as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was almost as well known for being late as for looking sexy. There had to be a reason for it. Here was a girl who couldn't go on a set without a dramatic coach with her. Most stars find a director enough guidance, though she didn’t. She studied long and hard at the Actors Studio in New York and couldn't work unless Paula Strasberg the wife of the director was with her on the set to tell her if she was doing all right. Her fear of being inadequate was so great that she sometimes never showed up at all. She wanted very much to be good, to be really good, and she was afraid that she wouldn't live up to her image of herself.’ Betty concluded her broadcast, ‘There’s a lesson to be learned for all of us. It behooves us to pay attention when our family and friends send out signals and say ‘help.’ We hear and read and talk of mental health, and it so often sounds like something that applies to someone else. Well, here's a someone else it applied to. It is possible that her hurts and fears were too deep to respond to help. I don't know. I do know that though I never met Marilyn Monroe I am terribly, terribly sorry that she felt she had to leave us.’”
16 January 63 flies from New York to be among 100 people toasting Mike Romanoff at his restaurant. Also in attendance are Marlon Brando, Cyd Charisse, and Tuesday Weld with Gardner McKay.
14 March 63 attends the opening of Kenneth’s beauty salon with her daughter. Kenneth became Jackie Kennedy's favorite hairdresser.
22 April 63 attends the Crystal Ball in Philadelphia, a party in the honor of homegrown Princess Grace of Monaco. The party will climax a week of regal ceremonies for the former Grace Kelly
and her husband, Rainier of Monaco.
17 September 63 Louella spots Luther Davis, “who usually escorts Olivia DeHavilland when she is in town, was buying dinner for Betty Furness at Au Petit Jean.”
17 November 63 the way Earl Wilson tells it: “Betty Furness left her wig in a taxi and had Wig City whip up another in a hurry for a business meeting.”
8 December 63 Whitney Bolton tells: “This ability to talk about $1,000 gowns and $2,700 windbreakers is a special talent and the most recent oral example of it came from Betty Furness, who is reported to have constructed a sudden sentence regarding clothes that seems modest and shy at first glance — but wait until you finish the sentence. ‘I have never had a $1,000 gown in my wardrobe in my life that I regretted buying.’ It's that final phrase that has the sling and the whiplash in it.”
12 June 64 will be in familiar territory in an unfamiliar role during the summer—the Republican and Democratic conventions, the seventh political convention in a row. But she will be heard and not seen this time, covering it for her CBS radio series, Dimensions of a Woman's World
16 July 64 lunches with Hedda Hopper and Lydia Morrison at the St. Francis. Hedda lets her opinion be known about Betty’s new hair color: “She has let her hair go brunette. She likes it better—I don't. Betty's doing a radio show, but I sure miss her pretty face beside that refrigerator on TV. The commercial she did for more than 11 years has been taken over by a man with a beard.”
her job the 1964 Republican and Democratic conventions is to keep an eye on all the ladies and report their activities to the nation. She has been carrying out this woman watching all week and preparing and presenting her reports on her four-minute-a-day radio show, Dimensions of a Woman's World. One of her opinions about the women of the conventions is that the ladies really do not have any important posts. “They are placed in many top level positions, which carry prestige and honor rather than actual power. The men still are the policy makers.
30 July 64 Hedda pens: “Betty Furness stopped with the Lederers en route to San Francisco. Politicians may come and go but Betty's never missed a convention since the networks started televising them. Her clothes were something to see, but she wore no hats.”
3 February 65 Earl Wilson: “Bill Holden, without his lovely Capucine, joined his pal Bob Strauss banging the bongo drums and singing at the African Room, while Bill's date Betty Furness, applauded.”
24 February 65 says she only wants to do news and it’s hard to convince those in charge she doesn’t want to act or do commercials. “How,'' she asks, "does one who's been deflowered in TV regain one's virtue?"
65 travels widely, flying to many colleges and universities to talk to students about President Johnson's Project Headstart, the program which started this summer to help underprivileged pre-school children prepare for a better start in education. While visiting the campuses, she also talks to students about Vista, the domestic version of the Peace Corps. Other traveling around the country takes her on lecture tours to present her program, Betty Furness on the Record, to women's clubs and other organizations.
66 hadn't delivered a commercial announcement for five years and four months — until last week. She’s in Washington to work for three weeks at WRC, the NBC outlet, filling in on a local show. Shortly before video tape recording of the local show began, a worried man came up to her and asked if she would do a commercial for a local department store, and the answer was yes.
keeps busy. She's a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; has done several New York TV shows, and is still on CBS radio with a long-running information program, Ask Betty Furness, which she summons experts on the show to answer assorted queries submitted by listeners. She now works for CBS news and has volunteered for dozens of assignments.
where her hair was once worn upswept and in a rather elaborate arrangement, now she has a sleek short cut. Her clothes are on the casual side. "The elegant look is out now anyway, and both clothes and hair are simple," she said. "So today I look completely different than I did in the old days. Even people I've known for years don't recognize me immediately.”
May 66 will start a series for the National Educational Television Network called "Living for the 60s," which explores the interests, employment opportunities and hobbies for older people. She is a volunteer worker for VISTA, the domestic version of the Peace Corps, and has flown all over the country — 16 cities since January — doing radio, television and newspaper interviews to help recruiting drives
13 October 66 “American girls never looked better than they do today — without makeup and with long-straight, shiny hair. But the Miss America contest turns them out of cookie cutter molds with tight clothes and heels that aren't chic and with upswept, elaborate hairdos that are really out of style."
67 marries Leslie Midgley, a widower and producer of the “CBS Evening News,” who owns a Cape Cod saltbox house
1 May 67 is appointed President Johnson’s special assistant for consumer affairs. He is familiar with her work on behalf of Democrats and impressed with her work ethic, During her tenure in the job, bills regarding the inspection and labeling of meat and issues of child safety (childproof caps on medicine bottles; flame retardant materials in pajamas) were passed.
as a result of her having to work in Washington, she and her husband live together only on weekends. But there are no Sunday night tears at the work-week parting. "Bring mature adults, we told each other there would always be the next weekend."
69 as the government's top consumer representative, she speaks her mind frankly at Congressional hearings. She takes to the road to tell business organizations what is troubling consumers and to tell consumer groups what they need to do to get protective laws. She will make 90 speeches in less than two years. In all, she helps get 11 consumer bills passed in the time she is in office.
won't be asked to stay on in the Nixon administration. "I think I've fixed it so that I could not," she said with a grin, referring to a newspaper interview in which she said she felt sure her job would be abolished because Republicans "think business can take care of everything…I've turned down many resistible offers; now I'd like to have an irresistible one." She will be replaced by Mrs. Virginia H. Knauer, a Republican who has been director of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
17 September 70 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller appoints her head of the newly created New York Consumer Protection Board.
60-70 does lectures, guest appearances on national TV talk shows, and a column for McCall's Magazine
13 July 71 Governor Nelson Rockefeller announces her resignation as his adviser on consumer affairs, saying he shared her disappointment that some consumer bills were not enacted into state law. She feels that the post needs a male lawyer “who understands how legislators work…I think we've had enough women in these consumer jobs. It's beginning to look like we'll throw the ladies a bone. We've got to do a little something for the ladies so we'll put a lady to work here."
71 keeps her hand consumer affairs as a non-paid consultant to groups such as the Consumers Union and the Advisory Council to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs.
72 while working as consumer affairs director at New York's NBC TV affiliate, she begins a long association with “The Today Show” as consumer reporter/advocate
18 February 74 is a television consumer news reporter on the evening news on WNBC. She receives 900 letters a week.
76-77 wins N.Y. area Emmies for ‘76-’77
77 her local show “Buyline: Betty Furness” wins a Peabody Award
78-79 wins an Outstanding Individual Craft award
81-82 wins a Governors Award from the Television Academy
84-85 her “Live at Five ‘VE Day - Forty Years Later’” wins an Emmy for Outstanding News Special
86 is elected to the Hall of Fame Best Dressed List
90 begins a battle with cancer. She will continue her reporting on “The Today Show.”
Early 90s uses television as a means of convincing consumers that they have rights, as she and her production colleagues track down and expose consumer fraud.
March 92 her job with “The Today Show” is terminated when the powers-that-be decide that she "scanned old." Though both “Today” and WNBC aired tributes to her during her last week, she does not keep her frustration out of the press. Nor does she hide her desire to keep working. But a reemergence of her cancer will prevent it.
2 April 94 dies in New York City from cancer of the liver
has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of for her contribution to motion pictures and one for her contribution to Television.
07 is honored in the Paley Center tribute to women who were successful in television, “She Made It”
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