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Screen and Stage Star Betty Hutton Dies at 86

Betty Hutton, the dynamic blonde who starred in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun and appeared as Miss Hannigan during the original Broadway run as Annie, has died at the age of 86.

Hutton, who was known for her high-powered comic exuberance, preferred that her death be announced at a specified time by the executor of her estate, Carl Bruno.  Details will be announced tomorrow.

Born as Betty June Thornburg in Battle Creek, Michican on Feb. 26, 1921, Hutton got her start as a big band singer.  She made her Broadway debut in the 1940 revue Two for the Show, and went on to perform in the Cole Porter musical Panama Hattie, starring Ethel Merman.

After moving to Hollywood, Hutton made a name for herself as a popular star of movie musicals and comedies, as well as the occasional drama.  Her films included The Fleet's In, Let's Face It, the then-controversial Preston Sturges farce The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Incendiary Blonde (in which she played '20s nightclub hostess Texas Guinan), The Stork Club, The Perils of Pauline (a musical about silent film star Pearl White), the Oscar-winning DeMille film The Greatest Show on Earth, Somebody Loves Me, and Satin and Spurs.  Most notably, she played Annie Oakley in the 1950 film adaptation of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun (which had starred Merman on Broadway).

Although she retired from films in the '50s, she made a number of TV and Broadway appearances in subsequent decades.  She appeared as Miss Hannigan during the original Broadway run of Annie.  Previously, she had replaced Carol Burnett in Fade Out-Fade In.

Married and divorced four times, she had three daughters.

A 1950 Time Magazine profile praised Hutton's "bellicose zeal and a tomboyish winsomeness that suggested a cross between one of the Furies and Little Orphan Annie."  According to that article, "watching her in action has some of the fascination of waiting for a wildly sputtering fuse to touch off an alarmingly large firecracker."


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