Betty Hutton

Betty Hutton

Betty Hutton, the energetic star of movie musicals like "Annie Get Your Gun," has died. She was 86 years old.

The silver screen actress passed away in Plm Springs recently, confirmed a friend, report news sources.

Hutton was unique during the '40s since she wasn't a typical blonde bombshell and dancing skills were only so-so. Instead, she brought an exuberant tomboyish charm that burst onto the screen and captured the nation's attention along with her powerful voice.

Elizabeth June Thornburg was born on February 26, 1921 in Battle Creek, Michigan to a railroad foreman who abandoned his family. Raised by her single mother, Hutton began singing in the family's speakeasy when she was only 3-years-old alongside her sister Marion Hutton. Later, Betty sang with local bands as a teenager and then was discovered by Vincent Lopez who gave her the name "Hutton" when she joined his band.

She began appearing in musical shorts for Warner Bros. in 1939 and worked with Buddy DeSylva on two of his Broadway shows, "Panama Hattie" and "Two for the Show." That connection developed into a film career when DeSylva became a producer at Paramount Pictures. During the 1940s and early '50s, she went on to make 14 films for the studio, beginning with "The Fleet's In" in 1942.

Other films from that time include "Star Spangled Rhythm," "Here Come the Waves," "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek," "The Perils of Pauline," "Red, Hot and Blue," "Let's Dance," "The Greatest Show on Earth" and "Somebody Loves Me." Perhaps her most famous role, however, was that of Annie Oakley in 1950's "Annie Get Your Gun," which she won after movie rival Judy Garland was dropped for being too difficult.

Hutton also signed on with the RCA Victor record company, worked in radio and even had her own short-lived sitcom, "The Betty Hutton Show" (aka "Goldie"). Her final Broadway appearance was as Miss Hannigan in the original run of "Annie."

Her private life didn't run so smoothly. She was married and subsequently divorced four times to Ted Briskin, Charles O'Curran, Alan Livingston and Pete Candoli, respectively. She came out of her marriages with three daughters. Hutton had some trouble with alcohol and substance abuse and even attempted suicide after losing her singing voice in 1970. After her fourth divorce, she filed for bankruptcy and later found herself working as a cook and housekeeper in a Catholic rectory. She lived alone in Palm Springs until her death.