Elizabeth Ruth Grable (Betty Grable) (December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973) was an American actress, pin-up girl, dancer, model and singer.
Her 42 films during the 1930s and 1940s grossed more than $100 million, and for 10 consecutive years (1942–1951) she placed among the Quigley Poll’s top 10 box office stars (a feat only matched by Doris Day, Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand, although all were surpassed by Mary Pickford, with 13 years). The U.S. Treasury Department listed her as the highest-salaried American woman in 1946 and 1947, and she earned more than $3 million during her career.
Betty Grable began her film career in 1929 at age 12 and was later fired from a contract for having signed with a false identification. She had contracts with RKO and Paramount Pictures during the 1930s and appeared in a string of B movies, mostly portraying college students. She came to prominence in the Broadway musical Du Barry Was a Lady (1939), which brought her to the attention of 20th Century-Fox.
She replaced Alice Faye in Down Argentine Way (1940), her first major Hollywood film, and became Fox’s biggest film star throughout the next decade. Fox cast Betty Grable in a succession of Technicolor musicals during the decade that were immensely popular, costarring with such leading men as Victor Mature, Don Ameche, John Payne and Tyrone Power. In 1943, she was the number-one box-office draw in the world. Two of her greatest film successes were the musical Mother Wore Tights (1947) and the comedy How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), one of her later films. Grable retired from screen acting in 1955 after she withdrew from her Fox contract, but she continued to perform on the stage and on television.
Throughout her career, Grable was a celebrated sex symbol. Her bathing-suit poster made her the top pin-up girl of World War II, surpassing Rita Hayworth. The photo was later included in the Life magazine project “100 Photographs That Changed the World”. Hosiery specialists of the era often noted the ideal proportions of Grable’s legs and thighs (18.5 in (47 cm)), calf (12 in (30 cm)) and ankle (7.5 in (19 cm)). Her legs were insured by her studio for $1 million as a publicity stunt. Describing her film career, Grable said: “I became a star for two reasons, and I’m standing on them.”
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