Betty Furness

Elizabeth Mary Furness, better known as Betty Furness (January 3, 1916–April 2, 1994) was an American actress, consumer advocate and current affairs commentator.

Born in New York, New York, Furness began her professional career as a model before being signed to a film contract by RKO Studios. Her first film role was as the "Thirteenth Woman" in the 1932 film Thirteen Women but her scenes were deleted before the film's release. Over the next few years she appeared in several RKO films, and became a popular actress. Among her film successes were Magnificent Obsession (1935) and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time (1936). By the end of the decade she had appeared in over forty films, but during the 1940s found it difficult to secure acting roles.

In 1948 she was performing in the television series Studio One which was broadcast live. She filled in for an actor to promote Westinghouse products during the advertisement break, and impressed the company with her easy and professional manner. They offered her a contract to promote their products and she subsequently became closely associated with them. In 1953 she appeared in her own television series Meet Betty Furness which was sponsored by Westinghouse and she remained a spokesperson for the company until 1960. She then attempted to move into a less commercialized role in television but found herself too closely associated with advertising to be taken seriously. During this time she worked on radio, and also on behalf of the Democratic Party.

In 1967 President Lyndon Baines Johnson, aware of her work for the Democrats contacted Furness and offered her a position as Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs. She accepted the assignment and continued in this role until the end of the Johnson administration in 1969. During her tenure she silenced her critics by applying herself studiously to her role and learning the issues relating to consumer rights. She headed the Consumer Affairs Departments of both New York City, and New York State from the late 1960s before returning to television.

Signed by WNBC in New York, Furness reported on consumer issues, and specifically targeted examples of consumer fraud. In 1976 she began an association with The Today Show filling in as anchor, and providing regular reports. In 1977 her program Buyline: Betty Furness won the Peabody Award.

In 1990 she was diagnosed with cancer. She continued working for The Today Show until she was released from her contract in 1992. Her dismissal was widely publicised and controversial and was viewed by many of Furness' supporters as ageism.

She had always expressed throughout her life that her philosophy was to never turn down a job, and she stated that it was this attitude that had allowed her to progress through such an unconventional series of professions. During her illness she stated that she wanted nothing more than to be able to work, but her health continued to deteriorate until her death in New York from stomach cancer.

Betty Furness has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution Motion Pictures, and to Television.


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Betty Furness has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution Motion Pictures, and to Television. Jean Harlow is portrayed by Gwen Stefani in the recent film "The Aviator.". During her illness she stated that she wanted nothing more than to be able to work, but her health continued to deteriorate until her death in New York from stomach cancer. She died shortly afterward at the age of 26, and is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Los Angeles, California. She had always expressed throughout her life that her philosophy was to never turn down a job, and she stated that it was this attitude that had allowed her to progress through such an unconventional series of professions. While filming Saratoga (1937) with Clark Gable, she was hospitalized with uremic poisoning and kidney failure, a result from scarlet fever she suffered from during childhood. Her dismissal was widely publicised and controversial and was viewed by many of Furness' supporters as ageism. They were engaged for two years, but before they could marry Jean became ill.

She continued working for The Today Show until she was released from her contract in 1992. Following the end of her third marriage she met MGM star William Powell. In 1990 she was diagnosed with cancer. Secretary (1936). In 1977 her program Buyline: Betty Furness won the Peabody Award. Jean then starred in two more films with Clark Gable, China Seas (1935), and Wife vs. In 1976 she began an association with The Today Show filling in as anchor, and providing regular reports. She was also married in 1933 for a short time to cinematographer Harold Rosson.

Signed by WNBC in New York, Furness reported on consumer issues, and specifically targeted examples of consumer fraud. She had a great comedic part in Dinner at Eight, and later that year she starred in Bombshell. She headed the Consumer Affairs Departments of both New York City, and New York State from the late 1960s before returning to television. By 1933, Jean was becoming a superstar. During her tenure she silenced her critics by applying herself studiously to her role and learning the issues relating to consumer rights. It was during the making of Red Dust that Harlow's second husband, MGM producer Paul Bern committed suicide. She accepted the assignment and continued in this role until the end of the Johnson administration in 1969. In 1932 she had bigger roles in Red-Headed Woman and Red Dust, her second film with Clark Gable. Harlow and Gable worked well together, and starred in a total of six films together.

In 1967 President Lyndon Baines Johnson, aware of her work for the Democrats contacted Furness and offered her a position as Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs. In 1931, Harlow began to gain popularity when she appeared in The Public Enemy, Goldie, The Secret Six, with Clark Gable, and Platinum Blonde. During this time she worked on radio, and also on behalf of the Democratic Party. By 1930, Jean and her husband had divorced, and she got her first major role when producer Howard Hughes cast her in the World War I film Hell's Angels (1930). She then attempted to move into a less commercialized role in television but found herself too closely associated with advertising to be taken seriously. She has a more substantial role in Laurel and Hardy's short Double Whoopee (1929). In 1953 she appeared in her own television series Meet Betty Furness which was sponsored by Westinghouse and she remained a spokesperson for the company until 1960. In the beginning Jean landed bit parts in silent films such as Why is a Plumber? (1927), Moran of the Marines (1928), and The Love Parade (1929).

They offered her a contract to promote their products and she subsequently became closely associated with them. Jean wanted only to be a wife and mother, but to please Mother Jean she looked for work as an extra in films. She filled in for an actor to promote Westinghouse products during the advertisement break, and impressed the company with her easy and professional manner. At the age of 16, Jean eloped with a wealthy young business man and the couple moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1948 she was performing in the television series Studio One which was broadcast live. Shortly afterward she remarried and moved to Chicago, where Jean attended high school. By the end of the decade she had appeared in over forty films, but during the 1940s found it difficult to secure acting roles. Mother Jean, as she was called, divorced Harlean's father and moved to Hollywood with hopes of becoming an actress herself.

Among her film successes were Magnificent Obsession (1935) and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time (1936). She was born at Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of Mont Clair Carpenter, a dentist, and his wife, Jean Harlow Carpenter. Over the next few years she appeared in several RKO films, and became a popular actress. She made over 36 films during a career that lasted only 10 years, and had a talent for comedy as well as drama that is still recognized today by record numbers of fans and film critics alike. Her first film role was as the "Thirteenth Woman" in the 1932 film Thirteen Women but her scenes were deleted before the film's release. Before her, bad girls in movies were always dark-haired and exotic looking. Born in New York, New York, Furness began her professional career as a model before being signed to a film contract by RKO Studios. Jean was the first blonde to be cast in 'bad girl roles'.

Elizabeth Mary Furness, better known as Betty Furness (January 3, 1916–April 2, 1994) was an American actress, consumer advocate and current affairs commentator. Jean Harlow, born as "Harlean Carpenter", (March 3, 1911 - June 7, 1937), US film actress, became known as the "original blonde bombshell", predating Marilyn Monroe as a blonde sex symbol. Saratoga (1937). Personal Property (1937). Libeled Lady (1936).

Suzy (1936). Wife vs. Secretary (1936). Riff Raff (1935). China Seas (1935).

Reckless (1935). The Girl from Missouri (1934). Bombshell (1933). What the Scotch Started (1933).

Dinner at Eight (1933). Hold Your Man (1933). Red Dust (1932). Red-Headed Woman (1932).

The Beast of the City (1932). Platinum Blonde (1931). The Secret Six (1931). Goldie (1931).

The Public Enemy (1931). Hell's Angels (1930). Saturday Night Kid (1929). Love Parade (1929).

Moran of the Marines (1928).

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