Betty Norton

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Betty Norton (b. Durban, 09/10/1912 – d. Johannesburg, 29/05/1954) was an actress. Also credited as Betty Moreny and Betty Jones.


Betty Edith Fletcher, born in Durban, was the daughter of Gilbert Fletcher, at the time a theatrical agent, and his wife Lella (Leila) Forbes (Helen Fullerton Forbes Williams), who was with the visiting Quinlan Opera Company. Her father was Australian-born and had married her mother while touring New Zealand with a theatrical company. By 1920 her parents had split up and her mother had married Dick Norton (Richard Goatcher Norton), who headed the touring Globetrotters company. In 1920 mother and daughter travelled to Los Angeles (reason unknown) and both were using the Norton surname. In fact, when Betty took to the stage herself she did so as Betty Norton. She must have been about 11 when, in 1923, together with Dick Norton and Leila Forbes, she appeared with the Globetrotters at the Victoria Theatre in Singapore. They made a return visit in 1927 and in 1931 the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg hosted them.

When she left for England she struck it lucky and made five films during 1931/1932, of which The Innocents of Chicago, directed by Lupino Lane, and Josser in the Army, by Norman Lee, were the most popular. However, her popularity reached its height when she joined the Windmill Theatre, where for some time she became the resident soubrette in a number of Revuedeville shows. Both The Era and The Stage were very complimentary, with The Era enthusing: “Betty Norton is one of the greatest gifts to variety that Revuedeville has given us. And it has given us some great artists. Betty is a joy to look at. She can act, sing, and dance, and all in superb style. And she has personality and charm.” It let to appearances in the André Charlot show Please (1933), with Beatrice Lillie and Lupino Lane; On With the Show (1934), during which she met her husband-to-be Harry Moreny; and Twenty to One (1936), again with Lupino Lane. In 1937 she went to the United States where the acted with Constance Cummings in Young Madame Conti at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. In England she went on lengthy tours with Me and My Gal (1939) and Half Past Eight (1943), with Scottish comedian Harry Gordon. She also acted in pantomimes like Robinson Crusoe (1934) and Babes in the Woods (1944). In 1938 she married Harry Moreny (as Betty E. Fletcher) and the following year the couple had a son.

Her stepfather died in 1946 and in 1947 Leila Norton decided to return to South Africa. At some stage Betty and Harry must have divorced, because early in 1949 she and their son also came to South Africa. For a while Betty Moreny worked behind the counter at a tobacconist’s shop, but in 1950 she acted in Halfway to Heaven (1953) for the Johannesburg Reps at the Library Theatre and directed the revue Off the Record, with Marjorie Gordon, at the same venue. In 1951 she had married Arthur Jones, but in 1954 she was killed in a motor accident in which her husband and a friend were seriously injured. (FO)

Note: According to IMDb, in the early 1950's a Betty Norton acted in three Argentinian films, but it is unlikely that this is her.


The Era, 22 February 1933

The Era, 29 March 1933

Rand Daily Mail, 8 May 1950

Rand Daily Mail, 17 July 1950

The Star, 25 May 1954

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities N

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page