Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters

Abstract

The Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters (dated 1936-1987, undated; 0.4 cubic feet; 20 folders) comprise letters that document the relationship between Furness and Green after their divorce and their joint custody of their daughter in California and New York in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters
Creator
Furness, Betty, 1916-1994
Extent
0.4 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Actors.
Child care.
Custody of children.
Divorce -- Costs
Divorce mediation.
Divorce -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Family.
Letters.
Marriage
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically and by format. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0393: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters, 1936-1987, undated, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Elizabeth Betty Mary Furness (1916-1994) was born in New York City, New York to George and Florence Furness. She was an actress, consumer advocate, and current affairs commentator. Furness's professional career began as a commercial advertising model; she was later discovered by a talent scout and signed to a film contract with RKO Studios in 1932. By the end of the 1930s, she had appeared in over forty films; however, she had trouble securing roles during the 1940s. In 1948, she was offered a contract with Westinghouse to promote their products, ultimately proving to be a successful and skilled representative for the company until released from her contract in 1960. In 1967, Furness was contacted by President Lyndon B. Johnson and offered the position of Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs. She accepted the assignment and stayed in the position until the end of the Johnson administration in 1969. Following the completion of that position, she served as a board member for Consumers Union from 1969 through 1993, appointed chairman and executive director of the New York State Consumer Protection board for 1970-1971, elected to the Common Cause National Governing Board in 1971, and headed the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in 1973. Furness also reported on consumer issues and consumer fraud through WNBC in New York, was an anchor with The Today Show in 1976, and in 1977 her program Buyline: Betty Furness won the Peabody Award. Furness married four times, her first was to Johnny Green (1908-1989) in 1937, with whom she had a daughter, Barbara Green. Her second and third marriages were both to Hugh Bud Ernst Jr. (1910-1950), in 1945 and in 1946. Her fourth and final marriage, in 1967, was to Leslie Midgley, with whom she had three children: Andrea, Leslie, and Peter.
Johnny Green (1908-1989) was born in New York City, New York to Vivian Green (1885-1940) and Irina Jellenik (1885-1947). He was a songwriter, composer, musical arranger, conductor, and pianist. He attended Horace Mann School and the New York Military Academy and was accepted by Harvard at the age of 15, entering the University in 1924. At the beginning of his career in music Green arranged for dance orchestras and then-popular musicians. From 1930-1933, Green was the arranger and conductor for Paramount Pictures, and produced many of his hit standards during the 30s, including Out of Nowhere, I Wanna Be Loved, and Repeal the Blues. He also composed the theme for the Betty Boop cartoons in 1932. Following 1933, Green had his own orchestra and performed around the country with them, and until 1940, conducted orchestras for the Jack Benny and Philip Morris records and radio shows. Following this, Green became the music director at MGM Studios from 1949 to 1959, producing film scores for films such as Raintree County, Easy to Wed, Something in the Wind, An American in Paris, and West Side Story. He was nominated for an Oscar thirteen times, winning the award for best musical score four times, and one for producing The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, which won in the Short Subjects (One-Reel) category. Green was also a board member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; chairman of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a producer of television specials. Green married three times, first to Carol Faulk, second to Betty Furness in 1937 with whom he had a daughter, and his final marriage was to Bunny Waters with whom he had two daughters.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters (dated 1936-1987, undated; 0.4 cubic feet; 20 folders) comprise letters that document the relationship between Furness and Green after their divorce and their joint custody of their daughter in California and New York in the latter half of the twentieth century. The letters are originals of what Furness sent to Green along with carbon copies of his replies to her. The letters mainly discuss the activities of their daughter and alimony payments; however, they also discuss each other's love lives, their careers, seeing each other's family members, and congratulating each other on shows performed and awards won. Also included in the collection are a few letters sent from a private collector offering the letters back to Furness, as well as to another collection, photographs of Furness acting and modeling, a program from a gala attended by Furness, and a breakdown of costs for the support of their daughter.
The Betty Furness and Johnny Green letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1943

  • Box WH-20, folder 3
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1943

  • Box WH-20, folder 4
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1944

  • Box WH-20, folder 5
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1944

  • Box WH-20, folder 6
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1945

  • Box WH-20, folder 7
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1945

  • Box WH-20, folder 8
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1946-1947

  • Box WH-20, folder 9
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1946

  • Box WH-20, folder 10
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1948

  • Box WH-20, folder 11
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1948

  • Box WH-20, folder 12
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1949

  • Box WH-20, folder 13
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1949

  • Box WH-20, folder 14
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1950

  • Box WH-20, folder 15
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1950

  • Box WH-20, folder 16
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1951

  • Box WH-20, folder 17
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1951

  • Box WH-20, folder 18
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Betty Furness to Johnny Green, 1960-1967, undated

  • Box WH-20, folder 19
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Johnny Green to Betty Furness, 1960-1967, undated

  • Box WH-20, folder 20
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General letters, 1943-1945, 1985-1987

  • Box WH-20, folder 21
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Betty Furness papers, 1936-1950, 1980, undated

  • Box WH-20, folder 22
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Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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