Forest Lawn Funeral Home
200 West Copans Road
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
(954) 784-4000
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Elizabeth Jane (Betty) Watson

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Elizabeth Jane (Betty) Watson Obituary
On February 21, 2016, at age 94, Betty Jane Watson peacefully left us to be with the Lord. The family will receive friends 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm Saturday, February 27th at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 200 W. Copans Rd, Pompano Beach, FL. Funeral services will be from 2:00-3:00 pm at the same location with the interment immediately following the service. Betty was born, "Elizabeth Jane Watson", on December 28, 1921, in Le Roy, Illinois. Betty is survived by her three daughters: Cynthia Ruhlig (Richard), Ormond Beach, FL., Deena Court (Kevin), Fort Lauderdale, FL. and Deborah Austensen Martin (Thomas), Odessa, FL; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren she loved deeply. Betty studied voice at the American Conservatory of Music, where every spring the school had a singing contest, and the winner received a gold medal. At 14 years of age, Betty Jane was the youngest person ever to win. At age 16, she met Tony Martin while she was performing for the radio station WROK out of Chicago. He invited her to sing with his band that evening, without even a rehearsal. Not only was she the youngest to win her school competition she was also reported to be the youngest actress to play the lead role in the Broadway stage play "Oklahoma." She performed alongside John Raitt in 1944. She later toured with Howard Keel when the Broadway production was taken to London, England. In addition to Broadway, she also appeared in many Summer Stock shows, and performed with, her at the time husband, Gerald Austensen, in hotels and nightclubs throughout the country from Boston to Los Angeles. She also sang for many benefit concerts, including one at Carnegie Hall. She appeared in the same program with many outstanding stars, such as Bing Crosby, Paulette Goddard, Dinah Shore, Victor Mature, Billy DeWolf, and many others. During her career, Betty Jane also appeared in "As the Girls Go," "Toplitzky of Notre Dame," "Sleepy Hollow," "Annie Get Your Gun," "South Pacific," "High Button Shoes," "Girl Crazy," "Wonderful Town," and "Texas Li'l Darling." Her voice won critical plaudits in some of the country's top hotels and supper clubs, including the "Swiss Chalet" in Chicago's Bismarck Hotel as well as the "Cotillion Room," the "Swan Room," and a six month engagement at the Palmer House, a record for that hotel at that time. She also appeared in some of the foremost television shows, notably with Ed Sullivan in "Toast of the Town," and with Guy Lombardo and his band. She also appeared in "Winner Take All," and Morey Amsterdam's "Hilarities." In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Florida Children's Performing Arts Foundation http://www.fcpaf.org

Published in Sun-Sentinel on Feb. 25, 2016
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