Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers A Forgotten Star With BETTY HUTTON & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952

Gusto Is The Word We Would Use For Betty

By: Feb. 16, 2024
Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers A Forgotten Star With BETTY HUTTON & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers A Forgotten Star With BETTY HUTTON & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952 Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, welcome back to Bobby’s CD sandbox where we offer our broken-down breakdowns of new music releases. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

This week’s album entry in the BobbyFiles comes from the lovely children at SEPIA Records as they salute the lady known as "Hollywood's Blonde Bombshell." What’s that I hear all my rainbow readers shouting? “Is this a tribute to the music of Marilyn Monroe or maybe Mae West?” No, my loves, this album from Sepia is titled Betty Hutton & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952 - and it was Hutton who, indeed, carried the moniker of Hollywood’s Blonde Bombshell for her all-too-short career. Born Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Betty Hutton cut her performing baby teeth in her bootlegger mother’s prohibition speakeasy, which led to other bookings in small local clubs in Detroit. Then, in 1938, orchestra leader Vincent Lopez heard the 17-year-old saloon singer and invited her to go on the road with him for her first steady gig. Then came success on Broadway, then Hollywood and a little more success, then wild success as a star and recording artist, then a little less Hollywood success, then career doldrums, then the deafening sound of all those ringing phones going silent, booze, drugs, career death and all those turned backs one encounters as an addict. While Betty triumphed over her addiction demons in the end, she never really made another dedicated run at having a performing career, and she lived quietly to the end of her 87 years, but she left behind a veritable library full of music recordings, which brings us to Betty Hutton & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:  1938-1952.

Kicking off with the uber danceable THE DIPSEY DOODLE - from a Paramount Short feature titled QUEENS OF THE AIR - we get a classic Big Band Era jump & jive. Betty bounces this one in her trumpet-like voice, even though it’s an almost one-note song in the chorus (reminiscent of a JOHNNY ONE NOTE), but her speedy attack inspires our chair-dancing mojo for sure. The verse adds some range briefly, but the whole dipsy doodle chorus is a gas man, a real gas. In her recording career, Betty charted to the top 100 three times - DOCTOR LAWYER INDIAN CHIEF, I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO, and A BUSHEL AND A PECK. One would assume that, in a tribute to the lady, these three songs would figure prominently but BUSHEL is not included at all, DOCTOR LAWYER is track 2 but is problematic, and I WISH is included on track 15 in a strange combination with other music. DOCTOR, LAWYER, INDIAN CHIEF is a bouncy number and one of Betty’s biggest hits, but with lyrics such as “Send the Injun chief and his tommy-hawk Back to little Rain-In-the-Face,” the cultural insensitivity of the times in which the number was recorded sticks out like a racist thumb. The positively gorgeous  I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO gets stuck in between other music on the track titled THE PERILS OF PAULINE I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO-THE SEWIING MACHINE, all leaving this rainbow writer asking Vanna if there’s a Y. It’s strange to include a one-off recording where Betty’s bonafide hit is sandwiched between the PERILS instrumental theme and a raucous number called THE SEWING MACHINE, all from a recorded radio performance and not a studio-produced session. This is just a weird track, quite frankly, as the only tune of interest to BH fans is the famous Frank Leosser song which Betty took to the Top 100 in 1947. The inclusion of the other two pieces of music is not only superfluous, it borders on the intrusive, so, here is Betty’s original rendition…

Betty did have one of this rainbow writer’s fave renditions of a fave song and, happily for us, MURDER HE SAYS is track 11 and does not disappoint. This is a classic Frank Loesser from her appearance in 'Strictly G.I.' (1943). Here is where her boisterousness makes the number and really puts it over. The Hep-Hep-Cat language and the bounce of the band let her give free rein to her range and power. Boisterous was a word used a lot to describe Betty Hutton, along with energetic, and ball of fire. While Betty’s performing style was not to everyone’s taste, she had a thing that was all her own, and while her detractors would say she was just too over the top, MURDER dovetailed beautifully into what she did…

On the album, what you just saw (& heard) above is captured and remastered beautifully. For the “CO-STARS” portion of the collection, we are treated to a who’s who of Hollywood vocal A-listers like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dorothy Lamour, and more… The entire collection spans two discs with 23 and 25 songs respectively, and that’s a lot, for sure. Little Bobby’s little preview focuses on disc one, because, as you all know, Bobby can go on and on sometimes, but we’ll stop there so that the fans can enjoy the listening trip in real-time, as we did - and we DID.  Sepia Records has made a surprising and completely artistic choice. One might wonder why any company would go to the trouble of producing so much work by an artist who is not only forgotten today but was largely forgotten in her own lifetime. The journey through these two discs is not only enjoyable, it is an education, and despite the one or two little dings we have delivered here, giving Betty back her voice in this century is more than laudible... it's heroic. Bobby is on the older side, my lambs, so Betty was known to pop up of a Saturday afternoon on a local TV station broadcast of ANNIIE GET YOUR GUN or THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, but, today, any of my younger children out there probably have no clue. BUT, all is not lost, my angels, since there is Betty Hutton & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952 and one hopes that, perhaps, some adventuresome young vintage fans will find it, buy it and enjoy a lady with a great voice giving all her music her all with gusto, and so…

This one gets 3 ½  Out Of 5 Rainbows

The album releases TODAY, February 16 so…

You Can Order Betty Hutton & CO-STARS On The Sepia Webbysite: HERE


Jump In The Amazon & Pick Betty Up: HERE

Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers A Forgotten Star With BETTY HUTTON & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS: 1938-1952