Betty Lou Gerson (April 20, 1914 – January 12, 1999) was an American actress, predominantly in radio, but also in film andtelevision, and as a voice actress.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and later migrated to Chicago, Illinois but moved again to New York City.
Radio and Film
She began her acting career in radio drama in 1935, while still in her 20s, and became a mainstay of soap operas during this period, appearing on Arnold Grimm's Daughter (as the titular daughter Constance in 1938), Road of Life (as Nurse Helen Gowan), and the radio version of The Guiding Light, as Charlotte Wilson in the mid-1940s. She was the resident romantic lead on such romantic anthologies as The First Nighter Program, Curtain Time, and Grand Hotel.
Moving to Los Angeles with first husband Joe Ainley (who had also directed The Guiding Light) in the 1940s, she soon established herself on such series as The Whistler, I Love Adventure, the historical drama Mr. President (as the presidential secretary), Crime Classics, Escape, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. She was heard in several episodes of Lux Radio Theater, notably as Glinda the Good Witch in a 1950 dramatization of The Wizard of Oz.
During this period, she was cast as the narrator in Walt Disney's version of Cinderella. Several years later she provided the voice of the villainous, selfish socialite Cruella De Vil in the 1961 Walt Disney animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Her few on-camera film roles include appearances in The Fly, The Miracle on the Hills, and Mary Poppins (a small cameo as a crone). In television, she made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of murderer Marjory Davis in the 1959 episode, "The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll." She also guest starred on The Twilight Zone, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Rifleman.
Gerson retired in 1966, though still using her voice, working at the telephone answering service of her second husband, Lou Lauria. She was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996. She returned to films one last time in 1997, providing the voice of Frances the fish in Cats Don't Dance. On January 12, 1999, she died of a massive stroke at the age of 84.