Sunday, June 5, 2011

Remembering Betty Taylor

Disneyland Resort president George Kalogridis called the passing of Disney Legend Betty Taylor a day after the death of her longtime Golden Horseshoe Revue costar Wally Boag a "tragic coincidence."


Betty died yesterday at her Washington State home. She was 91.

In January 1956, Betty joined the Golden Horseshoe, replacing Judy Marsh in the role of the cafe's owner, emcee and main squeeze to Pecos Bill, Slue-Foot Sue. Betty stayed with the show until 1987, racking up 45,000 performances, exceeding even that of Wally Boag, who retired in 1982.

Betty and Wally seemed destined to perform together. Both grew up in the northwest and took to music and dance at an early age. While Wally's calling was vaudeville, Betty gravitated towards nightclubs and big bands, singing with Les Brown and other popular bandleaders of the time. She even performed with Frank Sinatra for a series of shows in Las Vegas.

Betty had a smart and sassy stage presence and a rich voice that filled the Golden Horseshoe. Her signature tune was "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?", one of the many highlights of the show:

She also famously performed with comedian Ed Wynn atop a piano on wheels for a 1962 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color:

Betty was a consummate professional with the attitude that "the show must go on." That was never more evident than when the Golden Horseshoe Revue went on a USO tour in 1968. In Wally Boag's memoir, Clown Prince of Disneyland, he recalled a stop they made in Iceland.

"Betty broke her ankle while riding on a snowmobile from the plane to our first show. They flew her to the nearest hospital, and the rest of us went on with the show. When we went to see her we were told that they were going to have to send her home because they had to put her leg in a cast. She was devastated, but our accordian player saved the day. He was a weight lifter and said he could pick her up and put her on a stool so she could do her numbers. He did and she got a great response from our audiences."

Disney lost two legends this weekend, and for those of us of a certain age, a big chunk of our childhood goes with them.

Rest in peace, Slue-Foot Sue and Pecos Bill.

Related Story: Wally Boag, 1920-2011

No comments:

Post a Comment