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Betty Answers Her 1954 Fan Mail

fanclubDuring the summer of 1954, Betty hosted a variety show on NBC called The Betty White Show.  Betty and her crew of nine guys (!) presented musical numbers, read viewer mail, and celebrated “Wish Day,” in which the whole cast showered young guests with presents.

Here’s what a fan named Lydia received in reply when she wrote…

Please click the image see the mailing!

Given the volume of mail she likely received, it’s understandable that she relied on a “Dear Friend” form letter. It’s a nice touch, though, for her to reply to Lydia’s specific questions.

The insert listing the men on Betty’s show is interesting.  Frank DeVol was a well-know composer and arranger, and wrote a number of tv themes, including that of The Brady Bunch.  Arthur Duncan is a tap dancer, who went on to appear as a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show.

Betty was pretty forward-thinking in including Arthur Duncan, an African-American, in the cast.  She noted in her book Here We Go Again the following:

It came as a frightfully ugly surprise, one day, when a few of the stations that carried our show through the South notified us that they would, “with deep regret, find it most difficult to broadcast the program unless Mr. Arthur Duncan was removed from the cast.” I was shocked, and it goes without saying that Arthur continued to perform on our show as often as possible. To its credit, the network backed us up. I was livid — this was 1954, for heaven’s sake! I wanted to tell them what to do with their stations, but wiser heads prevailed. To no one’s surprise, that was the last we ever heard of the matter. They continued to carry us without another word on the subject.

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