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Betty Taylor dies at 91; Disneyland's Sluefoot Sue

Hired by

Walt Disney

in 1956, Betty Taylor spent three decades portraying the singing saloon hostess and onstage sweetheart of another character, Pecos Bill, at

Disneyland's

Golden Horseshoe Revue.

Taylor died Saturday at a nursing home in Coupeville, Wash., one day after the death of

,

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for more than 25 years. She was 91.

Her death was confirmed by her sister,

Dorothy Fields

, who is her only immediate survivor.

"Betty's role as leading lady" helped turn the revue "into the longest-running stage show in entertainment history," George A. Kalogridis, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement.

The vaudeville-style musical

comedy

revue closed in 1986 after more than 45,000 performances, a feat then unmatched by any other theatrical group, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

At the suggestion of an uncle with Hollywood connections, Taylor auditioned for the part of showgirl Sluefoot Sue in the revue, which had opened along with Disneyland in 1955.

Five times a day, Taylor led a four-dancer chorus. She sang

tunes of the old West and the occasional blues number.

"I can truthfully say I'm never bored," Taylor told The Times in 1981 when Disneyland marked her 25th anniversary in the show — and gave her a

Mickey Mouse

watch.

"She knew how to belt out a tune, in the storied tradition of an old western saloon," Marty Sklar, a retired longtime Disney executive, said in a statement. "Betty was a true [trouper] who loved playing the part."

Born on Oct. 7,1919, in Seattle, Taylor was taking singing lessons at 3 and performing professionally by 12, she later recalled.

At 18, she had her own band, Betty and Her Beaus, which included 16 male musicians. She later toured with the Henry Busse orchestra, the Red Nichols band and

Les Brown

and His Band of Renown.

"The big band life was tough — all of those one-nighters," Taylor told The Times in 1981. "It was exhausting."

Taylor also sang with the noted western group the

Sons of the Pioneers

and appeared with

Frank Sinatra

in Las Vegas.

At Disneyland, she donned gowns and a blond wig to play Sluefoot Sue, whom she later described as "not a hard character, but rather like a

Mae West

or a Kitty on the television series 'Gunsmoke.' "

Her "girlish enthusiasm" for the role was reflected in the way actor-comedian

Steve Martin

— who worked at Disneyland in the 1950s and '60s — signed her autograph book, according to a Disney biography.

"How come," Martin wrote, "I'm the only one who grows old around here?"

At 64, Taylor married for the first time. Her husband, fellow Disneyland employee Paul Brewer, died after 14 years of marriage.

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