QUESTION: Who was considered the first true pin-up queen?
A) Betty Grable
B) Fernande Barrey
C) Florence Lawrence
D) Lauren Bacall
Betty Grable. The most popular, highest paid American actress at the end of World War II, Betty Grable's films during the 1930's and the 1940's earned well over one hundred million dollars. We realize that does not sound like much today, considering that the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise earned over eight hundred million alone during the 2016 holiday season, but it was substantial in its day, and Grable was a hugely popular actress and pin-up girl. We will get back to that.
The St. Louis, Missouri native Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born in 1916 to a stockbroker father and an ambitious mother who wanted her youngest daughter to get in front of the limelight and make her lots of money. In 1929, the senior Grable took Betty to Hollywood and told film producers her pretty twelve year-old daughter was in her late-teens and convinced them to sign her on as a contract player. She got somewhat typecast as a ditsy blond, and the roles came few and far between. Betty, married by 21 to another "aging:" child star, Jackie Coogan, decided to give Broadway a chance then call it quits. DuBarry Was a Lady was the vehicle, and she virtually outshone Ethel Merman on stage. That was in 1939, and she finally became the star her mom had intended for her to become all along. Within four years, of her 'discovery,' Grable was the number one box office draw over the likes of Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, and Greer Garson!
ANSWER: B) Fernande Barrey. Ever heard of her? We hadn't either. She was a French model who became a popular source of inspiration for soldiers fighting on both sides of the Great War - that's World War One if you were unsure. We would include an image of her, but this is a family blog, thank you very much.