The Queen, at Buckingham Palace, was not amused; Lady {an anonymous friend}, of Dorset, England, fainted onto her nearest chaise lounge; the ultimate Computer Consultant {think Sherlock Holmes} Andrew T., of Scotland, was even perplexed and readers wrote in protest.


The story began on September 22, 2008 in London’s Daily Mail newspaper which on its Entertainment page headlined Lady on the line.  It showed a publicity shot of a damsel in distress from a re-make of The Perils of Pauline {1947} whose caption read Pauline Hutton as the damsel. The Question put to readers was: What was the origin of the melodramatic scenario of a villain in a top hat and cloak tying a beautiful damsel to the rail lines?


Among the flood of mail, the most succinct answer came from Giles Foster, Chipping Norton, Oxon, England. The actress tied to the rails in the picture shown wasn’t Pauline Hutton but Betty Hutton he explained. Pearl White, the fearless actress who brought the Perils of Pauline to motion-picture audiences became the Queen of Silent Serials. The Perils of Pauline made her world famous. Pearl ended her career appearing in music hall revues in England. She died at age 49 {1938}.


Betty Hutton, whose life was like a serial itself, with its Rocking Horse metaphor, displayed as much daring in practically all of her films, especially The Greatest Show on Earth, as a trapeze performer. Like Pearl White, Betty did most of her stunts. I was quite pleased over all the brou-ha-ha as I had recently finished writing a book, ROCKING HORSE, {Bear Manor Publishers} based on a personal relationship with the actress when she was in San Francisco.


Betty was here to begin rehearsals for Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels, which unfortunately didn’t happen, through no fault of hers. However, all the words, from our recordings, in the book are hers. Rather than elucidate the meteoric rise and descent and ride-out of the star’s victorious end I encourage you to get a copy of Rocking Horse and read her own confession.


BBC Radio 2’s Desmond Carrington called producer Richard Tay a hero for preserving our heritage with CD recordings of such rare and valuable treasures; Bing Crosby, Beatrice Lillie, Deanna Durbin and Betty Hutton, among others. I called the enterprising Mr. Tay in London for a statement for JO LEE Magazine; “Sepia Records was founded in 2002 primarily to preserve and make available on CD, recordings from the golden age of popular song {circa 1930-to 1960} material that has been neglected or forgotten by the major labels. Sepia recordings give the artists, songs and composers another chance to be re-discovered.”


Check out – it is worth looking into. And to our readers – anyone sending an e-mail or letter of ‘particular interest’ regarding Betty Hutton: will receive a complimentary signed copy of ROCKING HORSE. Good luck!


Gene Arceri has gained world attention as a writer, critic, award winning PBS reviewer and publicist. A native New Yorker, Gene resides in San Francisco and spends considerable time in London. Among his best selling books are: ‘Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life. Her Loves. Her Future’, Susan Hayward’s ‘RED’ and ‘Charlie of Nob Hill’. {San Francisco’s most famous cat}

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