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Betty Garde Papers

 Collection 0002-MMC-LAB

Betty Garde (1905-1989) was an American actress best known for being the original Aunt Eller in the 1943 production of the musical, Oklahoma. Her career also includes such radio programs as Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch and The Aldrich Family and work with Orson Welles and Eddie Cantor. Garde also appeared on early TV in such programs as The Honeymooners, Decoy, and The Twilight Zone.

The collection spans 1924 to 1978 and contains clippings, correspondence, photographs, and various artifacts documenting Garde's early stage career.


  • 1924-1978 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1930s

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Maryland room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is proected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


2.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Betty Garde Papers spans the years 1924 to 1978, with the bulk of the material pertaining to Ms. Garde's early stage career. Materials include clippings, correspondence, photographs, and other printed materials.


Betty Garde (1905-1989) was an American actress of stage, screen, radio and television. She was born on September 19, 1905 in Philadelphia, PA, and graduated from West Philadelphia High School before beginning her theatrical career. Her first role of note was as the maid in the play "Nice People" at the Broadway Theatre in Philadelphia in May of 1922.

Ms. Garde made her New York stage debut on October 26, 1924 (some sources give 1925) in the play "Easy Come, Easy Go." She toured extensively during the 1920s, playing Julia Winters in the play "The Poor Nut." Her subsequent touring roles included "The Nervous Wreck (1924) and "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" (1928). On Broadway, she played roles in "The Social Register" (1931); "The Best People" (1933) and "The Primrose Path" (1939). She had her most famous role, originating the part of Aunt Eller in the musical "Oklahoma!," in 1943. Later, in 1955, she would appear on the New York stage in "The Miser" and again in 1966 in "Agatha Sue, I Love You."

Ms. Garde began in radio around 1935 and would be highly active over the next six years with roles on "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" (as Mrs. Wiggs); "Lorenzo Jones"; "Quaker Party with Tommy Riggs"; and "The Aldrich Family." She also worked extensively with both Orson Welles and Eddie Cantor. In 1939, she starred in and directed the radio soap opera, "My Son and I."

In feature films, Ms. Garde was a popular supporting performer beginning with a role in "The Lady Lies" with Claudette Colbert in 1928. She garnered greater notice however later in such films as "Call Northside 777" with James Stewart (1948); "Cry of the City" (1948); "Caged" co-starring Eleanor Parker (1950); "The Prince Who Was a Thief" with Tony Curtis (1951); "One Desire" with Rock Hudson, Anne Baxter and Natalie Wood (1955); and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (1962).

Ms. Garde supplemented her stage and film work by appearing in various episodes of ongoing television series beginning in 1949. Some of her credits include: "The Honeymooners" (1955); "Decoy" (1957); "Philip Marlowe" (1960); "Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond" (1960); "Adventures in Paradise" (1960); "The Twilight Zone" (twice, both in 1961); "Route 66" (1961) and "Ben Casey" (1962), among other programs. Ms. Garde married Frank Lennon, a theatre electrician, during her run in "Oklahoma!" in the mid-1940s. They had no children.

Ms. Garde died at Sherman Oaks hospital on December 28, 1989 at the age of 84.


This collection has four series.

Series 1
Clippings and Reviews
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Betty Garde Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland Libraries by Elliot Reid, a friend of Ms. Garde's, in March of 1990.

Guide to the Betty Garde papers
Processed by Cary O'Dell, March 2004. Revised by Melanie Brown, May 2005.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funded in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King.
  • 2008-02-14: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2009-07-15: EAD revised by Karen E. King.
  • 2017-08-02: Finding Aid reviewed and revised by post ArchivesSpace migration by Joanne Archer.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742