Betty Garrett, Blacklisted Musical Actress, Dead at 91

Star of "On the Town" and "Laverne & Shirley" died yesterday in Los Angeles.

ByABC News
February 13, 2011, 12:04 PM

Feb. 13, 2011— -- Betty Garrett, a star of stage and screen throughout the second half of the 20th century, died in Los Angeles Saturday at the age of 91, according to her son Garrett Parks.

The actress was in good health until Friday, having taught her musical comedy class at Los Angeles' Theater West on Wednesday, but was taken to Los Angeles' Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with heart trouble on Friday. She died the following morning with her family at her side.

Garrett rose to fame in MGM musicals, starring alongside Frank Sinatra in Busby Berkeley's "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and later in "On the Town," in which she sang the memorably racy tune "Come Up to My Place."

Garrett also appeared in the star-studded musical "Words and Music," a fictionalized account of the partnership of songwriters Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and in the musical comedy "Neptune's Daughter," in which she sang the Oscar-winning classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside," opposite Red Skelton.

The brakes were hit on Garrett's career when MGM dropped her after her husband, actor Larry Park, was forced by Congress to testify about earlier involvement with the Communist Party.

Park, who had earned an Oscar nod for his portrayal of singer Al Jolson in the 1946 biopic "The Jolson Story," was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951, where he admitted to joining the Communist Party in 1941 and leaving a few years later.

Parks asked the committee not to force him "to crawl through the mud as an informer," but he later agreed to testify fully in executive session, effectively killing his Hollywood career.