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. In 1956 she again starred with March in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. 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. Harding became stereotyped as the innocent young woman willing to sacrifice herself for others, and she eventually quit making movies when she married in 1937, although she was lured back in 1942 to make Eyes in the Night. 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. In 1931 she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Holiday. Her dismissal was widely publicised and controversial and was viewed by many of Furness' supporters as ageism. In 1929 she made her film debut in Paris Bound, opposite Fredric March.

She continued working for The Today Show until she was released from her contract in 1992. Following school, she got a job as a script reader, and began acting on Broadway. In 1990 she was diagnosed with cancer. The family finally settled in New York, and young Dorothy attended Bryn Mawr College. In 1977 her program Buyline: Betty Furness won the Peabody Award. Born Dorothy Walton Gatley in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the daughter of a career army officer, she traveled often during her early life. In 1976 she began an association with The Today Show filling in as anchor, and providing regular reports. Ann Harding (August 7, 1901 - September 1, 1981) was an American actress.

Signed by WNBC in New York, Furness reported on consumer issues, and specifically targeted examples of consumer fraud. She headed the Consumer Affairs Departments of both New York City, and New York State from the late 1960s before returning to television. During her tenure she silenced her critics by applying herself studiously to her role and learning the issues relating to consumer rights. She accepted the assignment and continued in this role until the end of the Johnson administration in 1969.

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. During this time she worked on radio, and also on behalf of the Democratic Party. She then attempted to move into a less commercialized role in television but found herself too closely associated with advertising to be taken seriously. 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.

They offered her a contract to promote their products and she subsequently became closely associated with them. She filled in for an actor to promote Westinghouse products during the advertisement break, and impressed the company with her easy and professional manner. In 1948 she was performing in the television series Studio One which was broadcast live. By the end of the decade she had appeared in over forty films, but during the 1940s found it difficult to secure acting roles.

Among her film successes were Magnificent Obsession (1935) and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time (1936). Over the next few years she appeared in several RKO films, and became a popular actress. 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. Born in New York, New York, Furness began her professional career as a model before being signed to a film contract by RKO Studios.

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

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