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June 5, 2012

Straight, Perfectly Rounded & Shaped: Betty Grable Was Famous for Her Legs, They Were Insured for $1M in the 1940s

Betty Grable’s 40 films grossed over $100 million at the box office and she was the highest-paid Hollywood celebrity between 1943 and 1951. But despite her exquisite singing and dancing skills, Grable was most famous for her legs.

The iconic pinup of the starlet in a white bathing suit became a favorite with GIs during World War II. Grable reportedly earned $300,000 a year, largely because of her legs. So it only makes sense that, at the height of her fame, she insured them for $1 million.

When Betty Grable was profiled in the June 7, 1943, issue of LIFE, she shared headline status with another entity: her own legs, which the magazine dubbed a “major Hollywood landmark.” The previous February, an impression of her leg had been immortalized in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and the limbs were reportedly insured for $1 million at one point.

In fact, the published photo essay was nearly all legs. The face of the actress is seen in only one of the 14 pictures that accompany the story. Here’s the photographs of Betty Grable's legs taken by LIFE photographer Walter Sanders at studio in 1943.



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