Beloved Actress Betta St. John Passes Away at 93, Leaving Behind a Remarkable Legacy
Betta St. John, a renowned actress whose talent graced both Broadway and the silver screen, has sadly passed away at the age of 93. According to her son, TV producer Roger Grant, St. John passed away on June 23 due to natural causes at an assisted living facility in England, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Born as Betty Jean Striegler in Hawthorne, California, St. John began her acting career at a remarkably young age, making her debut at just 10 years old in the 1939 film Destry Rides Again, alongside the legendary Marlene Dietrich. However, it was her role in the 1953 film Dream Wife that marked a turning point in her career, as she portrayed a Middle Eastern princess engaged to Cary Grant’s character, claiming it to be her first “grown-up” role.
St. John’s talent and versatility led her to star in two films from the iconic Tarzan franchise. In the first color Tarzan movie, Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957), she played the role of a survivor of an airline crash. She later returned to the franchise for Tarzan the Magnificent in 1960, solidifying her presence in the adventure film genre.
Not only an accomplished actress, but St. John was also recognized for her singing and dancing abilities. She was married to English actor-singer Peter Grant from 1952 until his passing in 1992. The couple resided in London, where St. John appeared in numerous British films, including the horror flicks Corridors of Blood and Horror Hotel.
Reflecting on her career, St. John once revealed in an interview that her last film, Horror Hotel, had initially been an uncomfortable experience due to her distaste for horror movies. However, she expressed gratitude for being part of the film, as it gained a cult following and garnered praise within its genre.
St. John’s journey into the entertainment industry began with her parents enrolling her in Saturday theater classes at the age of 7. Her early training in dancing, singing, and theatrical arts caught the attention of scouts for Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II while she was still in high school. This led her to New York, where she celebrated her 16th birthday by taking the stage in Carousel on Broadway. She continued to tour with the show’s company, further establishing herself as a talented performer.
Throughout her illustrious career, St. John appeared in a range of notable films, including The Robe, The Student Prince, The Law vs. Billy the Kid, High Tide at Noon, The Saracen Blade, and The Snorkel, among others. However, in the early 1960s, she made the decision to step away from acting to prioritize her family.
In a candid reflection, St. John explained, “I thought my career was long enough, and I didn’t feel I was giving up very much at that point. But I gave it up mainly because I wanted to stay home and raise the children, and my family was much more important to me.” She acknowledged the challenges faced by actors in maintaining successful careers while keeping their families intact, and she ultimately chose to prioritize her loved ones.
In recognition of her contributions to the entertainment industry, St. John was inducted into the Hawthorne Hall of Fame in 2019. Her final years were spent residing in England, where she left an indelible mark on the world of acting and touched the hearts of many with her remarkable talent. Betta St. John’s legacy will forever be cherished by fans and fellow performers alike.