Betty McIvor was a beautiful debutante who wanted to act and was given the chance to do so – but unfortunately she left no impression on the world of films. As most of her peers, she retired after a few roles, got married and slipped into the upper class lifestyle.
Betty Jane McIvor was born on June 8, 1919, in Sweet Grass, Montana to Allan Vivian McIvor and Mabel Pudget. Her father was a vice president of a local bank. Both of her parents were members of the upper class, and Betty grew up in a wealthy household that had several servants.
In 1930, they family moved to Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming for Allan’s work, and Betty spent most of her teen years in Wyoming, adapting to the local Midwestern lifestyle. After graduating from high school (a private one, no doubt), she left to study at Stanford University.
Yet, her ties with Wyoming remained. In 1940, she was selected as Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days to rule over the famous outdoor rodeo at Cheyenne. She was described as “a typical girl of the west, 21, a daughter of a prominent western family and a student at Stanford university”. On Stanford university, she was noticed by a scout and given a chance to join the movie world.
Betty made her debut in Dames, a typical Busby Berkeley musical with a very, very thin plot but plenty of music, dancing and pretty girls. As per usual, we have Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler in various capacities. She continued in the same vein with Gold Diggers of 1935, perhaps the best Berkeley musical made in the 1930s. Much as Dames, it has no plot but it well stuffed in other areas – namely, as we mentioned, dance music and girls, girls girls! Even the cast is half the same, but just everything is better (it’s hard to explain what exactly makes this the best Berkeley movie, but it is one of the best, hands down! Just watch it and enjoy).
We get more of the same in In Caliente, another Berkeley musical. This time, we have a slightly different cast – instead of old stalwarts like Powell and Keeler, we have Pat O’Brien and Dolores del Rio. Without any doubt, del Rio was one of the most stunning women that ever came to Hollywood, and O’Brien was a character actor that could carry leading roles with ease, so a plus to the casting department IMHO! As always, the story makes little sense, but you ain’t watching it for this, right?
Betty changed tracks with The Case of the Lucky Legs, not a Berkeley musical but a Perry Mason mystery – and boy, was Warren William a different Mason that Raymond Burr, whom we all know as the idealistic attorney. William is a more human and less “perfect” Perry – he is more than a bit cheeky and unusually flippant, but I have to say I like this incarnation a great deal. The story is vintage Mason, and Della Street is played by the highly fashionable Genevive Tobin. What can we say, it’s a solid movie, too bad the popular 1960s series overshadows all the previous versions.
Betty was again a gold digger in Gold Diggers of 1937, a pale semi remake of the 1935 movie. What can I say, like most remakes it simply fails. Hollywood, stop making remakes – obviously this doesn’t work. Interestingly, the formula is the same (no plot, plenty of fun), but the movies vary in quality and it’s hard to exactly pinpoint what is the edge that makes a movie great or mediocre.
Betty finished her career with Thin Ice, a Sonja Henie movie. What can I say, I don’t like Henie and never rated her movies highly. She knew how to skate for sure, but was neither a warm, endearing star (more important for musicals than the ability to do Shakespeare) nor was she a good thespian (in fact, . And her movies are dismal in terms of plot and character development (huh, what did I expect from a glorified skating musical after all?).
This was it from Betty!
In 1940, when Betty was already 20 years old and getting ready to get married, her parents, already about 50 years old each, adopted a baby girl, Patricia Lou Brown.
Betty married her first husband, Franklin Judd Downing on December 27, 1940. Here is a short article about the marriage:
BETTY McIVOR TO BE BRIDE Miss Betty Mclvor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allan V. Mclvor of Hollywood, and Judd Downing, son of Mrs. Maude Downing, arc to be married tomorrow in the Chapman Park Pueblo Oratorio. A reception will be held in the Green Room of the Chapman Park. The couple plan to spend their honeymoon in Arizona. The bride-elect attended the University of Colorado and Stanford and is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Mr. Downing is a graduate of the University of Miami
Judd was born on August 1, 1912 in Lima, Ohio, to Frank and Maud Dowling. After studying in Dade, Florida (where he lived with his mother) he became a successful practicing attorney in California and was featured in the social columns in the papers from time to time. He was married and divorced prior to 1935, but I could not find a name of his spouse.
Their daughter Judith Allan was born on January 26, 1945. Unfortunately, by this time the Dowling’s marriage was disintegrating and they divorced in 1946.
Betty married for the second time, to Lorrin Tarlton, on December 6, 1947. Lorrin Cooke Tarlton was born on July 10, 1911, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Edna Stone Cooke and Frank Dale Calrton both members of prominent families. His mother was the daughter of formerConnecticut governor, Lorrin Cooke. Tarlton was married once before, on July 7, 1934, to Olive Wheelock. They had a son together, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, born on February 16, 1936. Lorrin and Olive divorced in the early 1940s (I can assume).
Lorrin and Betty lived an active life in California, and were regulars at the social columns in the area. Lorrin adopted Betty’s daughter Judith but it seems they did not have any more children. Like her mother, Judith attended Stanford University.
Lorrin’s son Lorrin Jr. became a successful businessman and in
the 1980s developed Menlo Business Park, taking advantage of the then novel Dumbarton Bridge.
Betty’s former husband Judd Dowling died in January 1973.
Betty’s husband, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, died on March 18, 1981, in Los Angeles.
Betty McIvor Tarlton died at the ripe of age of 95 in 2014 in California.