American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 10

Betsy Baytos

Recently, Roy Disney, Walt’s nephew and guardian of the Disney Company’s mission, said: “How do you explain Betsy Baytos without visuals?” It’s a good question. From what one has heard about her career, a person might expect one of Disney’s more frenetic animated figures.

Several years ago, when Betsy and I were both in Manhattan, we arranged to meet late one night at Chez Josephine. As we had only corresponded up to that point, I asked her how I would recognize her. “Oh, you’ll know me all right. I’m tall: five foot ten.” Although the nightspot was on the fringes of Broadway’s theatre district, it is well known, and I suspected that more than a few tall showgirls might wander in among the after-theatre crowd.

Height isn’t the first thing one notices about Betsy. Although she looks as though she might have been a showgirl, it’s her vivacity that compels one’s interest. Like a good performer, she connects immediately, and her enthusiasm and humor quicken a conversation that leapfrogs back and forth. An interviewer’s questions require follow-up explanations, and Betsy sometimes counters with her own questions. The result is like a paint-by-the-numbers storyboard, and an interviewer may learn less about Betsy than the talented folks she has met and admired.