Day 225 of Colourisation Project – December 18
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Born this day, December 18, 1916, Betty Grable, a popular American actress, dancer and singer of the 1940s and 1950s, was universally known throughout the world as the archetypal pin-up girl.
Grable was one of the 20 original Goldwyn Girls, among whom were Lucille Ball and Paulette Goddard. Celebrated for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood, her iconic bathing suit poster made her the number one pin-up girl of World War II. Much more than that though, it became the “defining visual and discursive representation of perfect American womanhood.” *
The studio portrait taken by Frank Powolny in 1943 was later included in the LIFE magazine project 100 Photographs that Changed the World. Grable’s trade mark platinum blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin and voluptuous figure were regarded at the time as the standard of ideal beauty. By today’s standards Grable most likely would have been told to lose about 8-10 kilos!
Even hosiery specialists of the era dispensed advice on what was considered perfection in the beauty stakes noting the proportions of Grable’s legs as the ideal standard; thigh – 47 cm (18.5 inches), calf – 30 cm (12 inches), and ankle – 19 cm (7.5 inches).
Healthy ideal of beauty aside, Grable’s famous pin-up pose in bathing suit with back to the camera and smiling over her right shoulder was purposely directed that way to conceal the fact that she was pregnant at the time. It was felt that facing the camera showing her ‘bump’ would be in poor taste!
Her legs made her a Hollywood legend. In 1943, Twentieth Century Fox had Grable’s legs insured with Lloyd’s of London for the record amount of $1.25 million.
In a successful career spanning over four decades, Grable made over one hundred films, primarily musicals including Pin Up Girl, Call Me Mister, The Farmer Takes a Wife and How To Marry A Millionaire.
Grable died of lung cancer at age 56 in Los Angeles, California in 1973.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard.
“There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them.” – Betty Grable