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Betty Furness
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    (January 3, 1916-April 2, 1994)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Model/actress/consumer affairs advocate and reporter
    Appeared in the films 'Renegades of the West' (1932), 'Lucky Devils' (1933), 'Let's Fall in Love' (1933), 'Dangerous Corner' (1934), 'A Wicked Woman' (1934), 'Magnificent Obsession' (1935), 'All American Chump' (1936), 'Swing Time' (1936), 'Mama Steps Out' (1937) and 'North of Shanghai' (1939)
    Hosted 'Penthouse Party' (1950-51)
    Guest panelist on 'What's My Line' (1950-62) and 'To Tell the Truth' (1957-64)
    Wrote the 'Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook' (1954)
    Appointed Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs by President Lyndon B. Johnson (1967)
    First chair of the New York State Consumer Protection Board (1970-71)
    Board member of Consumers Union (1969-93)
    Consumer affairs reporter and fill-in anchor for Today (1976-92)
    She was married to Bud Ernest twice, with the first marriage lasting 14 months.
    Her most prominent acting gig was as a long-time (1948-60) spokesperson for Westinghouse refrigerators: 'You can be sure if it's Westinghouse.'
    LBJ's appointment had more to do with her fundraising for the Democratic party than any expertise she had previously shown in consumer affairs.
    She said, 'I feel I'm a very serious person who wants to do things, but people keep talking about refrigerators.... I'm bored with the image.'
    She was credited with getting 11 federal consumer rights bills passed while in office, prompting Ralph Nader to say, 'I didn't think a company saleswoman could become a strong consumer advocate. Was I ever mistaken!'
    She was the first reporter hired specifically to cover consumer issues.
    She won a Peabody Award for her consumer affairs reporting (1977).
    Jane Pauley said, 'She was my role model. There isn't anyone in television I admire more.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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