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Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
(December 11, 1923 – March 13, 2009) was an American actress of film and stage, long based in London. Blair pursued a career in entertainment from the age of eight, and as a child worked as an amateur dancer, performed on radio, and worked as a model, before joining the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe in 1940. There she met Gene Kelly; they were married the following year, when she was seventeen years old, and divorced sixteen years later in 1957. After work in the theatre, Blair began her film career playing supporting roles in films such as A Double Life (1947) and Another Part of the Forest (1948). Her interest in Marxism
Marxism
led to an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
and Blair was blacklisted for some time, but resumed her career with a critically acclaimed performance in Marty (1955), winning a BAFTA Award and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She continued her career with regular theatre, film and television work until the mid-1990s.

Contents

1 Early life and education 2 Career

2.1 Stage 2.2 Film

3 Death 4 Partial filmography 5 Bibliography 6 References 7 External links

Early life and education[edit] Born Elizabeth Winifred Boger on December 11, 1923, in Cliffside Park, NJ, her father, William Kidd Boger, was a partner in a small insurance brokerage firm; her mother, Frederica Ammon, was a schoolteacher. Both were Episcopalians.[1] At the age of eight, she was enrolled in the Swift Sisters School of Dance, and recalled performing before Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, winning an amateur contest shortly thereafter, joining a touring amateur show and performing on local radio, as motivating influences in her desire to pursue a dance career.[1] She joined the John Robert Powers
John Robert Powers
modeling agency and by the age of twelve was in regular demand. She enrolled in the Professional Children's School but, as it was not accredited, her mother returned her to her local school so that she might eventually attend college. She graduated at fifteen, securing a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College. However, the Board of Admission considered her too immature for entry and requested she wait one year. Career[edit] Stage[edit]

Blair with Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine
in the trailer for Marty, 1955

In the interim, Blair joined the chorus at the International Casino in Times Square, and when it closed down, worked in the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe from January 1940 where Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly
was working as choreographer. "Gene fought for me. He said I could dance, and he needed some good dancers," she wrote in her autobiography.[2] Blair and Kelly's relationship blossomed, culminating in their marriage in October 1941. She and Kelly remained married for sixteen years and had one daughter, Kerry Kelly Novick (b. 1942),[3][4] together before divorcing in 1957. Blair left Rose's show to accept an offer from choreographer Robert Alton to join the chorus of Panama Hattie, an illustrious line-up which included June Allyson, Doris and Constance Dowling, and Vera-Ellen. Alton—who had previously discovered Gene Kelly—had spotted her when she unsuccessfully auditioned for a part in Louisiana Purchase.[5] During this period she developed a strong interest in Marxism, having been introduced to Lloyd Gough by Kelly, and attended Gough's weekly Marxist study group, which Kelly did not attend. "And it was very serious. Our textbook was The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union... I was completely enthralled by the ideas."[6] In early 1941, Blair secured her first role in a stage play when Kelly's friend William Saroyan
William Saroyan
chose her to play the female lead role of St. Agnes of the Mice in his play The Beautiful People at the Lyceum Theatre, playing opposite Eugene Loring, and securing excellent reviews from leading critics George Jean Nathan
George Jean Nathan
and Richard Watts, Jr.. Watts commented, "The gently sweetly sincere and completely moving gravity and innocence of Miss Blair's utterly right performance is so infinitely touching and beautiful than any studied portrayal could be, that her contribution to the work is gracefully enchanting."[7] Film[edit]

Blair with her husband Karel Reisz
Karel Reisz
in 1966

Blair was featured in such films as A Double Life (1947), Another Part of the Forest (1948), and The Snake Pit
The Snake Pit
(1948). She continued to hold left-wing political views and admittedly attempted to join the Communist Party.[1] In her autobiography, she revealed her application was rejected as the Party felt she would be more valuable as the wife of the progressive Kelly.[1] Kelly himself was not a Communist and his status as a valuable star provided the couple some protection. In the 1950s, Blair was under investigation from HUAC
HUAC
and blacklisted for several years. She almost lost one of her signature roles, that of Marty's girlfriend in Marty (1955), but was restored to the role after Kelly threatened to pull out of It's Always Fair Weather.[1] For her performance, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and prizes from the Cannes Film Festival. Her film career, nonetheless, was damaged during the "red scare" era and she had to seek work on stage in New York and in Europe.[8] Following her divorce from Kelly, Blair moved permanently to Europe where she paired off with French actor and director Roger Pigaut, and continued to appear in films, including Juan Antonio Bardem's Calle Mayor (1956) and Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido
Il Grido
(1957). By those years she self-confessedly became a conspicuous member of the avant la lettre European gauche caviar.[9] Blair married Czech-born director/ producer Karel Reisz
Karel Reisz
in 1963, and would perform sporadically in later years working with Costa-Gavras' (Betrayed, 1988) and on the mini-series Scarlett in 1994. Reisz died in 2002. In 1980, she was a member of the jury at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.[10] Blair filmed scenes for Stephen Daldry's The Hours (2002), initially playing the older version of Julianne Moore's character. It is unclear if she was dropped or if she withdrew from the project. In 2003 she published her autobiography, The Memory of All That.[9][8] Death[edit] Blair died of cancer in London
London
on March 13, 2009. She is survived by a daughter, three stepchildren and several grandchildren. Partial filmography[edit]

The Guilt of Janet Ames
The Guilt of Janet Ames
(1947) - Katie A Double Life (1947) - Girl in Wig Shop Another Part of the Forest (1948) - Birdie Bagtry The Snake Pit
The Snake Pit
(1948) - Hester Mystery Street
Mystery Street
(1950) - Jackie Elcott No Way Out (1950) - Telephone Operator (uncredited) Kind Lady (1951) - Ada Elcott Marty (1955) - Clara Meeting in Paris
Meeting in Paris
(1956) - Nancy Blanding Calle Mayor
Calle Mayor
(1956) - Isabel The Halliday Brand
The Halliday Brand
(1957) - Martha Halliday Il Grido
Il Grido
(1957) - Elvia Lies My Father Told Me (1960) - Mother Silver Spoon Set (1960) - Countess Margherita Cherè All Night Long (1962) - Emily Careless (1962) - Amalia Brentani Marry Me! Marry Me! (1968) - Second English Teacher A Delicate Balance (1973) - Edna Flight of the Spruce Goose (1986) - Helen Descente aux enfers (1986) - Mrs. Burns Betrayed (1988) - Gladys Simmons

Bibliography[edit]

Blair, Betsy (2003). The Memory of All That. , London: Elliott & Thompson. ISBN 190402730X

References[edit]

^ a b c d e Blair, Betsy (2004). The Memory of All That. London: Elliott & Thompson. ISBN 1-904027-30-X.  ^ Blair, p. 12. ^ "Betsy Blair, 85, Actress and Wife of Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly
is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-26.  ^ Lobosco, David (2012-08-24). "A Trip Down Memory Lane: The Children Of Gene Kelly". Greatentertainersarchives.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-10-26.  ^ Blair, pp. 20–21. ^ Blair, p. 20. ^ Quoted in Blair, p. 33. ^ a b Haggas, Carol. Booklist. American Library Association.  Missing or empty title= (help) ^ a b Blair, p. 352. ^ "Berlinale 1980: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 

External links[edit]

Biography portal

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Betsy Blair.

Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
on IMDb Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
at AllMovie Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
at Find a Grave Obituary Interview with Blair in 2005

v t e

BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role

1952–1967

Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh
British, Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret
Foreign (1952) Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
British, Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron
Foreign (1953) Yvonne Mitchell
Yvonne Mitchell
British, Cornell Borchers
Cornell Borchers
Foreign (1954) Katie Johnson British, Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
Foreign (1955) Virginia McKenna
Virginia McKenna
British, Anna Magnani
Anna Magnani
Foreign (1956) Heather Sears
Heather Sears
British, Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret
Foreign (1957) Irene Worth
Irene Worth
British, Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret
Foreign (1958) Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
British, Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine
Foreign (1959) Rachel Roberts British, Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine
Foreign (1960) Dora Bryan
Dora Bryan
British, Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
Foreign (1961) Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron
British, Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
Foreign (1962) Rachel Roberts British, Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal
Foreign (1963) Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
British, Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
Foreign (1964) Julie Christie
Julie Christie
British, Patricia Neal
Patricia Neal
Foreign (1965) Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
British, Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau
Foreign (1966) Edith Evans
Edith Evans
British, Anouk Aimée
Anouk Aimée
Foreign (1967)

1968–present

Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
(1968) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1969) Katharine Ross
Katharine Ross
(1970) Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson
(1971) Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli
(1972) Stéphane Audran (1973) Joanne Woodward
Joanne Woodward
(1974) Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
(1975) Louise Fletcher
Louise Fletcher
(1976) Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton
(1977) Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
(1978) Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
(1979) Judy Davis
Judy Davis
(1980) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(1981) Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
(1982) Julie Walters
Julie Walters
(1983) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1984) Peggy Ashcroft
Peggy Ashcroft
(1985) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1986) Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
(1987) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1988) Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins
(1989) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1990) Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster
(1991) Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
(1992) Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter
(1993) Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon
(1994) Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson
(1995) Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn
(1996) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(1997) Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
(1998) Annette Bening
Annette Bening
(1999) Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts
(2000) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(2001) Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman
(2002) Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson
(2003) Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton
(2004) Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon
(2005) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(2006) Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard
(2007) Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet
(2008) Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan
(2009) Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman
(2010) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(2011) Emmanuelle Riva
Emmanuelle Riva
(2012) Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
(2013) Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore
(2014) Brie Larson
Brie Larson
(2015) Emma Stone
Emma Stone
(2016) Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand
(2017)

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 40323079 LCCN: no00065318 ISNI: 0000 0001 1442 4312 GND: 124859798 SUDOC: 073310336 BNF: cb139300342 (data) BN