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Biography: A Monettan Goes to Hollywood (Monett, Missouri)

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Not everyone can see their dreams come true, especially when those dreams can only be realized hundreds of miles away from home. Sometimes, a bit of luck at the right moment makes all the sacrifices and hard work worthwhile. Oh, and it certainly helps when your dad is a wealthy businessman.

The story of actress Betty Hall is not your typical rags-to-riches tale. In fact, Betty's life was quite storybook-like, as she was the daughter of the local produce distributor and Monett Mayor, V.B. Hall.

After graduating from Monett High School in 1940, Hall pursued her passion for theatre and attended the prestigious Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, from 1940 to 1941 under the mentorship of Maude Adams, the star of Broadway's first showing of Peter Pan in 1905. In the fall of 1941, Hall continued her education at the University of Missouri. During her time at the school, Hall's beauty, personality, and talent were frequently acknowledged. In our research for this story, numerous descriptions of Hall often mentioned "the power of her black eyes." While we don't know if this was intentional on Hall's part as an actress, it was an asset that seemed to open doors for her. This admiration led her to be voted homecoming queen in the fall and later to be discovered by a Warner Bros talent scout while performing in the three-act comedy "The Man Who Came To Dinner." No doubt, the talent scout saw something special.

 

 

Upon securing a screen test, Hall signed on as a "Goldwyn Girl" and soon began appearing in several movies. Being a Goldwyn Girl was demanding; choreographed dance moves required hours of practice, and the days were long and, depending on the costume, very uncomfortable. To be a Goldwyn Girl, a young lady must possess beauty, talent, self-confidence, and ambition. Studio head Samuel Goldwyn also insisted that all ladies look as though they had just stepped out of the bathtub, embodying "a radiant scrubbed cleanliness that rules out all artificiality." Ironically, to perform as a Goldwyn Girl, all ladies were dressed alike, and movie credits simply listed "Chorusline - The Goldwyn Girls" or other variations. In this case, the exact list of productions Betty Hall performed in as a Goldwyn Girl is unknown. However, what is certain, according to a Mizzou magazine article, is that Betty performed in "Up in Arms," Danny Kaye’s first film.

After "Up in Arms," Hall took on other uncredited roles, such as an office girl in "Lady in the Dark" (1944), a jury member in "Knock on Any Door" (1944), Pearl in "Hoodlum Empire" (1952), and an extra in "Around the World in 80 Days" (1956).


By the age of 25 in 1948, Hall decided that acting wasn’t for her and transitioned into modeling. Aside from a mention in her obituary, records of this work are unfounded. What is documented, however, is her marriage to Jerry Seelen on April 24th, 1949. Seelen was a talented figure in Hollywood. From 1936 to 1952, Seelen wrote songs for many musical films starring the likes of Milton Berle and Danny Thomas. Among his numerous works were the English lyrics to the French song "C'est si bon" (1950), which later became the quintessential Americanized French song performed by Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Barbara Streisand, and more. Seelen went on to write episodes for television shows, including "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Addams Family," and more. When it came to family, Hall and Seelen had two children; Son Jerry (1952) and Daughter Vigee. Sadly by 1957 this marriage ended.




In 1958, Hall married Edward M. Condon of H&S Pogue Department Stores/Associated Dry Goods. While there is no record of how Hall and Condon met, it can be assumed that it was through Hall’s fashion model work. Throughout their marriage and until Condon's death in 1999, the two were inseparable. They relocated frequently, moving to places such as Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Baltimore as Condon climbed the retail business ladder. They hosted charity auctions and became well-respected in the social circles of Cincinnati.


Upon retirement in 1981, the Condons moved to Los Angeles. During their time there, they became involved with the Los Angeles County Club, The National Arts Society, and The Orphanage Guild.



Elizabeth “Betty” Condon died at the age of 78 on September 4, 2001, from a long illness, and she is buried at Monett’s IOOF cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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