Vintage: Betty Grable and her legs (1943)

Vintage: Betty Grable and her legs (1943)


Elizabeth “Betty” Grable (1916 – 1973) was an American actress, pin-up girl, dancer, and singer.

Grable was voted the number-one box-office draw by American movie exhibitors in 1943; she outranked Bob Hope, Gary Cooper, Greer Garson, Humphrey Bogart, and Clark Gable in popularity. Grable’s next movie, Coney Island, released in June 1943, was a Technicolor “gay nineties” period musical and co-starred George Montgomery. The film earned more than $3.5 million at the box office and was well received by critics. Sweet Rosie O’Grady (1943), her follow-up feature, was equally successful at the box office, although it failed to obtain the same critical favoritism. In 1943, she collaborated with photographer Frank Powolny for a regular studio photo session. During the shoot, she took several photos in a tight, one-piece bathing suit. One particular pose consisted of Grable’s back being to the camera as she playfully smiled looking over her right shoulder. The picture was released as a poster and became the most requested photo for G.I.s stationed overseas. Grable’s photograph sold millions of copies, eventually surpassing the popularity of Rita Hayworth’s famous 1941 photo.

The legs at work on the set. They are clad in this costume in Betty's latest screen appearance, Coney Island, a picture which dwells on them at considerable length.

The legs at work on the set. They are clad in this costume in Betty’s latest screen appearance, Coney Island, a picture which dwells on them at considerable length. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The legs relaxing. Betty is athletic, but she does not have to take special exercises or massages to keep her figure shaply.

The legs relaxing. Betty is athletic, but she does not have to take special exercises or massages to keep her figure shaply. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Betty Grable’s Legs. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Betty Grable getting cold cream applied to her legs by LIFE photographer Walter Sanders as he prepares her for a photo session at studio. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Betty poses the legs for a still shot on a studio beach set. She has made more such leg art stills than any other actress.

Betty poses the legs for a still shot on a studio beach set. She has made more such leg art stills than any other actress. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Going to studio in the morning, Betty steps into roadster. Once asked to comment on her hips, well displayed here, she said, "They're just where my legs hook on."

Going to studio in the morning, Betty steps into roadster. Once asked to comment on her hips, well displayed here, she said, “They’re just where my legs hook on.” Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In her dressing room at 20th Century-Fox studios Betty pulls on black mesh stockings for a scene that will feature the legs.

In her dressing room at 20th Century-Fox studios Betty pulls on black mesh stockings for a scene that will feature the legs. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Actress Betty Grable modeling a one-piece bathing suit while showing off her famous legs. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In the course of a day Betty's legs walk, climb stairs, dance and are generally flexed like other legs. Here the legs are shown as she prepares morning shower at home.

In the course of a day Betty’s legs walk, climb stairs, dance and are generally flexed like other legs. Here the legs are shown as she prepares morning shower at home. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Betty models a coat of her own design which features decorations of Army corps and rank insignia. Betty is one of the biggest pin-up favorites of servicemen everywhere.

Betty models a coat of her own design which features decorations of Army corps and rank insignia. Betty is one of the biggest pin-up favorites of servicemen everywhere. Walter Sanders—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images


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