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Betta St. John Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (3)

Overview (3)

Born in Hawthorne, California, USA
Birth NameBetty Jean Striegler
Height 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Hawthorne, California (Los Angeles area) on November 26, 1929, the former Betty Jean Striegler was part of the Meglin Kiddies troupe as a child and entered pictures in her adolescent years. Betta made her film debut at age 10 with an unbilled role of a little girl who sings Marlene Dietrich's song "Little Joe" in the classic western Destry Rides Again (1939) starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. She went on to also appear in an Our Gang short and had unbilled orphan roles in both Jane Eyre (1943) and Lydia (1941). She was also a one-time model.

The musical team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein took sharp notice of this young, attractive singing/dancing teen talent and gave her a small role in Broadway's "Carousel" in 1945. Four years later, when they were ready to cast the exotic role of "Liat" for their upcoming musical "South Pacific" starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, they had to look no further than darkly beautiful Betta St. John. The Broadway show was a blockbuster hit come opening night. While performing in the show's London tour at the Theatre Royale Drury Lane Theatre early in 1952, she met and worked with British opera singer and cast member Peter Grant (he played Lt. Cable). They married on November 27th of that year and remained so until his death in 1992.

The musical splash Betta made on Broadway suddenly reopened the door for some decorative film work. She made her adult debut in the second femme lead (behind Deborah Kerr) in Dream Wife (1953). In this she plays Tarji, a princess, who is courted by bachelor tycoon Cary Grant. This led to other "B"-level co-star/featured parts in a number of exotic eastern and western adventures throughout the 1950's including Miriam in the biblical epic The Robe (1953); Lady Iolanthe opposite Ricardo Montalban in The Saracen Blade (1954); Princess Johanna in The Student Prince (1954); outlaw Billy the Kid's (played by Scott Brady) love interest in The Law vs. Billy the Kid (1954); a British belle in the mystery drama Alias John Preston (1955) which had a small featured role for husband Peter Grant; an alternative to "Jane" in Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957) starring Gordon Scott; and a Canadian islander (she is top-billed) in the British-made High Tide at Noon (1957).

After numerous guest appearances on TV here and in England, Betta co-starred with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee in the British-made horror [linktt0051542] and Lee again in the horror The City of the Dead (1960), and made one more movie excursion into the jungle with Gordon Scott's Tarzan in Tarzan the Magnificent (1960) before abandoning the limelight altogether.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Peter Grant (27 November 1952 - 1992) (his death) (3 children)

Trivia (3)

At the age of 10 she was offered a small role in The Wizard of Oz (1939) but her parents turned it down.
In 1999, Betta, along with the rest of the remaining original cast, attended the 50th anniversary of "South Pacific" in New York.
Interviewed in Tom Weaver's book, "I Talked with a Zombie" (McFarland & Co., 2008).

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