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© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Happy Homemaker: 1954

The Happy Homemaker: 1954

Los Angeles circa 1954. "Actress Betty White at home with her dog." Note what looks like an Emmy Award atop the television set. Photos by Maurice Terrell and Earl Theisen for Look magazine. View full size.

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Familiar shoes

She's got my grandmother's open-toed shoes! We had a house full of blonde furniture back then. Betty has always been a favorite. The show, Life With Elizabeth is a wonderful innocent series.

That Emmy gracing the television

was bestowed in 1952 by the Los Angeles chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (from which the national organization evolved) for White's "Life with Elizabeth," produced by KLAC (not KTLA).

Broadcast live, it was also kinescoped for distribution to stations in the Dumont Network, of which KLAC was a halfhearted member. The next year, based on its apparent popularity, the series turned to film, shot by veteran Hollywood cinematographer Mack Stengler (who would specialize in television, "lensing," to use Variety's parlance, the entire run of "Leave It to Beaver" at the end of his long career).

Others involved in "Life With Elizabeth" were producer Don Fedderson (later "Family Affair" and "My Three Sons") and writer George Tibbles ("My Three Sons" and "One Day at a Time"). KLAC gofer Sam Peckinpah was, by most reports, an indifferent production assistant on "Life with Elizabeth."

Classy fly swatter

Is that a crocheted fly swatter I see hanging prominently to the extreme right? I remember my mother crocheting scores of nifty items. Very popular were the toilet paper roll cozies that looked like a doll in a dress!

I'm also curious as to why the TV screen is angled toward the floor and not upward where, I would assume, the better viewing angle would be?

[To reduce glare. - Dave]

The quintessential guide to '50s style

If an art director created that scene today, he would be accused of going completely over the top. It's all there, I can't think of a thing to add! Blond furniture, yikes!

"Knotty Pine"

That paneling was very popular in the 1950s and '60s. We moved in 1953 to a new house that had it in a 120 square foot den. It had a rustic look to it that you might see in a cabin in the woods or lake. Betty White is the best thing about this pic.

Nominated that year

According to the Emmy Awards web site, Betty was nominated for Best Actress in both 1951 and 1952 for her role in "Life With Elizabeth." Her first win was in 1975 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

[I suspect the Emmy here has something to do with her work for KTLA. - Dave]

Betty White

Those were happier times for me. When you had to turn your television off because if the tubes got too hot, you'd have to go down to the supermarket to test your tubes and purchase the correct one to replace it. Good times!

Nice looking set

I was only 9 years old and remember we had a 21 inch Zenith for our first TV that year. Only two stations and I knew what was on both at any given time. My mom would ask me what was on next.


Indeed, the blouse and the tablecloth have the same pattern. It would seem that she was preparing for her MTM role earlier then we'd thought.

[They're not the same pattern. The tablecloth is caladium leaves and fern fronds; the housedress looks like pine needles or flowers. - Dave]

I stand corrected. good eye!

Is she wearing the tablecloth?

Or is her blouse "coordinated" with the rest of the kitchen?
Cute dog, too.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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