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Betty Garde, 84; Radio Actress Also Played Broadway, Films

December 27, 1989

Betty Garde, a tireless radio actress probably best known as the wife of "Lorenzo Jones" or as "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch," and who added another dimension to a long career when she was cast as the original Aunt Eller in the Broadway production of "Oklahoma," is dead.

Elliott Reid, a longtime friend and colleague, said she died Monday at a Sherman Oaks hospital of the complications of age. She was 84.

Onstage since the early 1920s, she made her New York City debut as Alma Borden in "Easy Come, Easy Go." A tall woman, she continued to play character roles on Broadway in such productions as "The Social Register" and "The Primrose Path" through the '20s, moving into radio in the early 1930s.

Over the years she was heard in hundreds of broadcasts in three dozen shows.

Among them were "The Big Story," "The Eddie Cantor Show," "Front Page Farrell," "Joe and Mabel," "Perry Mason" and "The Fat Man."

She worked on several of the Orson Welles radio specials and appeared regularly in the dramatic anthology "Theater Guild on the Air."

Born Katherine Elizabeth Garde in Philadelphia, she spent most of her professional career in New York but did appear in a few films and television shows in Hollywood.

Her best-known role in pictures probably was that of Wanda Skutnik, whose courtroom testimony in "Call Northside 777" led to the conviction of an innocent man. A confrontation with James Stewart portraying an investigative newspaper reporter is considered a film classic.

On television she was seen on the old "U.S. Steel Hour," "Suspense," "The Twilight Zone," "Ben Casey" and many other series.

Reid said she had no known immediate survivors.

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