She Played the Bunkers’ Neighbor and Laverne and Shirley’s Landlady; Sitcom, Broadway and Film Star Betty Garrett Dead at 91

Feb 14, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Betty Garrett, an actress whose career ranged from Broadway shows to film musicals to television hits such as "All in the Family," has died, reports The New York Times. She was 91 and the cause was an aortic aneurysm, the story says.

Garrett got her big television break in the early 1970s when Norman Lear gave her the role of Irene Lorenzo, a neighbor to Archie and Edith Bunker who argued politics and social issues with the prejudiced Archie, the story says. After the show ended, she joined "Laverne & Shirley," where she played the title characters’ landlady, Edna Babish, who ends up marrying Laverne’s father.

Garrett was also known for her supporting roles in a number of MGM musicals in the late 1940s, such as her part as the love-struck cabby in 1949’s "On the Town" who chases after Frank Sinatra’s character, the story notes. In the same year, she played another loves-truck character, this time a baseball fan, who is taken with Frank Sinatra’s character in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The story notes that her career hit a roadblock in 1951 when her husband, Larry Parks, who had played Al Jolson in the film "The Jolson Story," was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The article says he admitted he was a member of the Communist Party for several years in the 1940s and identified several other Hollywood figures who had joined, and subsequently roles for both Garrett and her husband dried up. But Garrett was able to start working in the film industry again by 1955, the story notes.


One Comment

  1. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Betty. I worked with her in a show at Theater West in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. She was a lady of the theater! Told me great stories of her days at the studio. She was a great actress and singer and had so much energy for someone who was about to turn 90! I will always remember her kindness and her love to other performers.
    Betty may you dance and sing with the angels.

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