Neptune's Daughter (1949). Musical/ romantic/ comedy Cast: Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat and Mel Blanc. Directer: Edward Buzzell. Features the Academy Award winning song Baby, It's Cold Outside by Frank Loesser. Neptune's Daughter was the third movie that paired Williams and Ricardo Montalbán together, the other two being Fiesta (1947) and On an Island with You (1948), and the second to co-star Red Skelton (1944's Bathing Beauty).
At first aquatic ballet dancer Eve Barrett, rejects the offer by Joe Backett to become his business partner at the Neptune swimming suit design company, but changes her mind when she thinks about the publicity she will get out of the partnership.
When Joe learns that a South American polo team will be playing a big match in town, he and Eve begin planning a swim number for the event. Eve tells her love starved sister Betty about the South American team coming to town, Betty comes up with a plan to find herself a husband.
After practice, Jose O'Rourke, the captain of the polo team, goes to see Jack Spratt, a masseur, who tells Jose that he has never been on with a date woman. During the massage, Jose gives Jack advice on how to talk to women. Jack, now believes women can not resits him when he speaks to them in Spanish, which he calls the "language of love."
While looking for the South American team captain, Betty accidentally mistakes Jack for Jose. Jack keeps his true identity secret and accepts her invitation to have dinner at her house. On their date, Jack secretly plays a Spanish language instruction record while pretending that he is speaking to Betty.
Later, Betty tells Eve about her date and Eve tries to talk her out of dating any of the visiting polo players.
The next day, while giving a tour of the Neptune bathing suit factory, Eve meets Jose and warns him to stay away from her sister. Jose is attracted to Eve, and pretends to understand and agrees to break his date with Betty.
Jose asks Eve to go on the date with him, she says "yes" only to prevent him from dating her sister. Eve finds him attractive and begins to fall in love with him. Now, she thinks that she must find a way to break the news to her sister.
The mistaken identities and romantic complications turn this film into a great mix of fun. Garrett and Skelton's on screen chemistry was wonderful. I'm surprised that they did not do more films together..
Following her senior year performance in Twelfth Night, the bishop urged her to pursue a career on the stage. At the same time, her mother's friend arranged an interview with Martha Graham, who was in Seattle for a concert tour and the dancer recommended her for a scholarship at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.
Garrett and her mother moved to Manhattan in the summer of 1936 and Garrett began classes in September. Her teachers included Graham and Anna Sokolow for dance, Sandy Meisner for drama, Lehman Engel for music, and Margaret Webster for the Shakespearean classics.
She felt she was destined to be a dramatic actress and shied away from playing comedic roles. During the summer months, Garrett performed in the Borscht Belt, where she had the opportunity to work with Danny Kaye, Jerome Robbins, Carol Channing, Imogene Coca, and Jules Munshin, and she was encouraged to work on her singing and dancing skills.
She joined Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre as an understudy in what was to be its last stage performance, a short-lived production of Danton's Death that gave her the opportunity to work with Joseph Cotten, Ruth Ford, Martin Gabel, and Arlene Francis.
She performed with Martha Graham's dance company at Carnegie Hall and the Alvin Theatre, sang at the Village Vanguard, and appeared in satirical and political revues staged by the Brooklyn-based Flatbush Arts Theatre, which eventually changed its name to the American Youth Theatre and relocated to Manhattan. It was during this period she joined the Communist Party and began performing at fundraisers for progressive causes.
Garrett made her Broadway debut in 1942 in the revue Of V We Sing, which closed after 76 performances but led to her being cast in the Harold Rome revue Let Freedom Sing later that year. It closed after only eight performances, but producer Mike Todd saw it and signed her to understudy Ethel Merman and play a small role in the 1943 Cole Porter musical Something for the Boys. Merman became ill allowing Garrett to play the lead for a week. During this time she was seen by producer Vinton Freedley, who cast her in Jackpot, a Vernon Duke/Howard Dietz musical also starring Nanette Fabray and Allan Jones. The show closed quickly, and Garrett began touring the country with her nightclub act.
After Laffing Room Only another production Garrett appeared in on Broadway closed there she traveled with the show as it played extended runs in Detroit and Chicago, after which she returned to New York and was cast in Call Me Mister. She won critical acclaim and the Donaldson Award for her performance. It led to her being signed to a one-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Louis B. Mayer.
Garrett arrived at the studio in January 1947 and made her film debut portraying nightclub performer Shoo Shoo O'Grady in Big City. Mayer renewed her contract where she performed in the musicals Words and Music, On the Town, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and Neptune's Daughter.
The Jolson Story had been a huge hit in the United Kingdom, and Garrett and husband Larry Parks decided to capitalize on its popularity by appearing in at the London Palladium and then touring the UK with their nightclub act. But, the increasing popularity of television led to the decline of music hall entertainment.
Then Garrett was cast opposite Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon in My Sister Eileen, a 1955 musical remake of a 1942 film starring Rosalind Russell, when Judy Holliday dropped out of the project due to a contract dispute.
The following year, she and Parks replaced Holliday and Sydney Chaplin in the Broadway production of Bells Are Ringing during their vacation from the show.
Over the next two decades, she performed on Broadway in two short-lived plays (Beg, Borrow or Steal with Parks and A Girl Could Get Lucky with Pat Hingle) and a musical adaptation of Spoon River Anthology, and making guest appearances on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Lloyd Bridges Show, and The Fugitive.
In the fall of 1973, All in the Family added two new neighbors to the neighborhood, Frank Lorenzo and his feisty Irish American wife, Irene. Lear had been the publicity man for Call Me Mister, All in the Family writers Bernard West and Mickey West knew Garrett from her days with the American Youth Theatre, and Jean Stapleton had been in the cast of Bells Are Ringing, so Garrett appeared to be a front runner for the role of Irene. It went instead to Sada Thompson, but, unhappy after filming one episode, Thompson asked to be released from her commitment, freeing the role for Garrett, who remained with the series from 1973 through 1975.
The following year, Garrett was performing her one-woman show Betty Garrett and Other Songs in Westwood when she was offered the role of landlady Edna Babish in Laverne and Shirley. The character was a five-time divorcee who married Laverne's father Frank. Although Garrett reportedly felt she was never given enough to do on the show, she appreciated the fact that her musical talents occasionally were incorporated into the plot, and she won a Golden Globe for her performance. When the series was extended beyond what had been intended to be its final season, Garrett was forced to drop out because she already had committed to performing with Sandy Dennis, Jack Gilford, Hope Lange, and Joyce Van Patten in The Supporting Cast on Broadway. The play closed after only eight performances, but returning to Laverne and Shirley was not an option, as the writers had explained Edna's disappearance by having her divorce Frank.
Garrett appeared on television in Murder, She Wrote, The Golden Girls, Harts of the West, Union Square, Boston Public, Becker (for which she was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series), and Grey's Anatomy, among others, and on stage in Plaza Suite (with Parks), And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, and the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies.
At Theatre West, which she co-founded, she directed Arthur Miller's The Price and appeared in the play Waiting in the Wings. She won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award twice, for Spoon River Anthology and Betty Garrett and Other Songs.
Garrett received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2003. On her 90th birthday in 2009, she was honored at a celebration sponsored by Theatre West at the Music Box Theatre in Hollywood.
In 2010, Garrett appeared alongside former two-time co-star Esther Williams during Turner Classic Movies' first annual Classic Film Festival. Their film Neptune's Daughter was screened at the pool of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California, while a Williams-inspired synchronized swimming troop, The Aqualilies, performed.
Another enjoyable post, Dawn. It was especially rewarding to learn more about Betty Garrett.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for including Betty Garrett on this post. I've been a big fan of her since the first time I saw "On The Town" but until I read your post, I never realized how little I knew about her. A great read - thanks for posting!ReplyDelete
I've always liked Esther Williams; she's not an actress with a lot of depth but she is always very charming. And Betty Garrett! I agree with Martin - she's fabulous in "On the Town."ReplyDelete
Rick, Thank you and thank you for stopping by.ReplyDelete
Martin Turnbull, Thank you. I'm also a fan of Betty Garrett and was very surprised to learn that at the beginning of her acting career she shied away from playing comedic roles.
silverscreenings, that is true she is not an "A" list actress.. but, her films are always fun to watch.
Hi Dawn! sorry for posting this here as it's not specific to this post but I wanted to say 1. thanks so much for featuring the val lewton banner! would love to have you take part, let me know if you want to, 2. I actually want to ask you something else, could you please contact me (mail dot speakeasy at yahoo dot com) and 3. I just love your blog in general.ReplyDelete
thanks and best to you :)
Excellent piece of writing, Dawn, and so much fun to read. As usual you have lovely pictures too. Neptune's Daughter is a favorite of mine, if only to look at Ricardo Montalban -- no really, I enjoy that movie so much! BTW, love your design. I made some changes on my own blog, going for muted purple and gold. I think I like it, but would love your opinion since yours are always great.ReplyDelete
Kristina, Thank you. I would love to participate but, my knowledge on Val Lewton, is very limited. I will put my thinking cap on and see what I can can up with..ReplyDelete
I will send you an email..
Beck, Thank you.. I love Ricardo Montalban's style of dance.. I sometimes wonder why he was not a better known dancer. I will run over and check out your new blog design..
Kristina D, I sent you an email, but it came back. I tried again..ReplyDelete
You can contact me at: