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Betty Garde Papers


Betty Garde Papers
Garde, Betty
Collection number:
LAB 2005-104
2.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
1924-1978 and undated
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Betty Garde (1905-1989) was an American actress best known for being the original Aunt Eller in Broadway's "Oklahoma" but whose career also include such radio programs as "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" and "The Aldrich Family" and work with Orson Welles and Eddie Cantor, among others. Ms. Garde also appeared on early TV in such programs as "The Honeymooners," "Decoy," and "The Twilight Zone." The collection documents Betty Garde's early stage career.

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This collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Betty Garde Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Betty Garde (1905-1989) was an American actress of stage, screen, radio and television. She was born on September 19, 1905 in Philadelphia, PA, and graduated from West Philadelphia High School before beginning her theatrical career. Her first role of note was as the maid in the play "Nice People" at the Broadway Theatre in Philadelphia in May of 1922.

Ms. Garde made her New York stage debut on October 26, 1924 (some sources give 1925) in the play "Easy Come, Easy Go." She toured extensively during the 1920s, playing Julia Winters in the play "The Poor Nut." Her subsequent touring roles included "The Nervous Wreck (1924) and "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1928). On Broadway, she played roles in "The Social Register" (1931); "The Best People" (1933) and "The Primrose Path" (1939). She had her most famous role, originating the part of Aunt Eller in the musical "Oklahoma!," in 1943. Later, in 1955, she would appear on the New York stage in "The Miser" and again in 1966 in "Agatha Sue, I Love You."

Ms. Garde began in radio around 1935 and would be highly active over the next six years with roles on "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" (as Mrs. Wiggs); "Lorenzo Jones"; "Quaker Party with Tommy Riggs"; and "The Aldrich Family." She also worked extensively with both Orson Welles and Eddie Cantor. In 1939, she starred in and directed the radio soap opera, "My Son and I."

In feature films, Ms. Garde was a popular supporting performer beginning with a role in "The Lady Lies" with Claudette Colbert in 1928. She garnered greater notice however later in such films as "Call Northside 777" with James Stewart (1948); "Cry of the City" (1948); "Caged" co-starring Eleanor Parker (1950); "The Prince Who Was a Thief" with Tony Curtis (1951); "One Desire" with Rock Hudson, Anne Baxter and Natalie Wood (1955); and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (1962).

Ms. Garde supplemented her stage and film work by appearing in various episodes of ongoing television series beginning in 1949. Some of her credits include: "The Honeymooners" (1955); "Decoy" (1957); "Philip Marlowe" (1960); "Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond" (1960); "Adventures in Paradise" (1960); "The Twilight Zone" (twice, both in 1961); "Route 66" (1961) and "Ben Casey" (1962), among other programs. Ms. Garde married Frank Lennon, a theatre electrician, during her run in "Oklahoma!" in the mid-1940s. They had no children.

Ms. Garde died at Sherman Oaks hospital on December 28, 1989 at the age of 84.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Betty Garde Papers spans the years 1924 to 1978, with the bulk of the material pertaining to Ms. Garde's early stage career. Materials include clippings, correspondence, photographs, and other printed materials.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Betty Garde Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Elliot Reid, a friend of Ms. Garde's, in March of 1990.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Cary O'Dell, March 2004. Revised by Melanie Brown, May 2005.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Cary O'Dell, January 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Clippings and Reviews, 1924-1960 (5 folders)

This series contains over 170 newspaper clippings - most pertaining to various stage performances Ms. Garde gave over the years. In addition to the stage performances, this series also reflects Ms. Garde's interests in radio, television and film - inlcuding 19 clippings pertaining to her roles in the films "Caged" and "Call Northside 777." Unfortunately, most of these items are lacking both dates of publication and the names of the original newspapers they appeared in. (Some clippings are in oversize storage.) All clippings are ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Clippings and Reviews -- Theatre, 1924-1958 series 1box 1folder 1
Clippings and Reviews -- Radio, circa 1939 series 1box 1folder 2
Clippings and Reviews -- Film, 1929-1950 series 1box 1folder 3
Clippings and Reviews -- Television, circa 1960 series 1box 1folder 4
Clippings and Reviews -- Miscellaneous, undated series 1box 1folder 5

Series 2: Correspondence, 1924-1955 and undated (4 folders)

This series contains personal and professional communiqués (113 total) to, and occasionally from, Ms. Garde with the majority being letters and telegrams congratulating Ms. Garde on a recent stage success or wishing her luck on an upcoming opening night. Unfortunately, most of these documents are signed only with the sender's first name, or with a nickname, therefore making it difficult to ascertain their exact author.

This series also includes various undated letters and an assortment of undated greeting cards sent to Ms. Garde mainly pertaining to her marriage and the first anniversary of same. Some of the letters,, are from the following individuals: Jane Tibbett, Ted Hammerstein, Orson Welles, Fred Robbins, Dorothy Hirsch, Helen and Harry Frazee, Madeline Carroll, Alec Barnum, and Jane Barton. This series also includes an undated telegram Garde sent to Walter Winchell.

All letters are ordered by date.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1924-1942 series 2box 1folder 6
Correspondence, 1944-1955 series 2box 1folder 7
Correspondence -- Miscellaneous, undated series 2box 1folder 8
Correspondence -- Greeting cards, undated series 2box 1folder 9

Series 3: Photographs, undated (1 folder)

Assortment of 11 photographs from early in Ms. Garde's stage career and some contact sheets for a potential "head shot" from late in her career.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Photographs, undated series 3box 1folder 10

Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1920s-1978 and undated (11 folders)

This series contains other printed materials (41 items total) and includes: mementoes from various trips that Ms. Garde took; West Philadelphia High School-related material including a 50th High School Reunion program and list of students from the Class of '22, and two bound copies of a speech Garde delivered to her alma mater, West Philadelphia High School; a bound copy of "selected" sheet music from the musical "Oklahoma!"; paper-bound theatre scripts for "The Primrose Path" (2 copies) and "The Poor Nut"; an undated, original educational radio play, "English Language Triumphant," written by Garde; various play programs listing theaters and casts; one film program ("Call Northside 777"); a 1978 Actor's Fund Annual Report; a hand-written "resume" of Ms. Garde's various stage roles, c. 1920's or '30's; and Ms. Garde's 1922 Actor's Equity card.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Miscellaneous -- "Oklahoma!" sheet music, 1943 series 4box 1folder 11
Miscellaneous -- Theatre scripts, undated series 4box 1folder 12
Miscellaneous -- Theatre programs, undated series 4box 1folder 13
Miscellaneous -- Film programs -- "Call Northside 777", 1948 series 4box 1folder 14
Miscellaneous -- AFRA "Stand By!", June, 1941 series 4box 1folder 15
Miscellaneous -- "Resume", circa 1920s or 1930s series 4box 1folder 16
Miscellaneous -- Original script -- "The English Language Triumphant", undated series 4box 1folder 17
Miscellaneous -- West Philadelphia High School, undated series 4box 1folder 18
Miscellaneous -- Actor's Fund Report, 1978 series 4box 1folder 19
Miscellaneous -- Personal travel, undated series 4box 1folder 20
Miscellaneous -- Actor's Equity card, undated series 4box 1folder 21

Related Material

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