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Betty Hicks
photo credit: Tracker748
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Age 37
Birthday 28 October, 1922
Birthplace Gold Hill Gallatin County Illinois, USA
Died 11 March, 1960
Place of Death Beverly Hills, CA
Hair Color Brown - Dark
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
Nationality American
Occupation Homemaker
Claim to Fame Wife of Mario Lanza
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Wife of legendary singer Mario Lanza. Born Elizabeth Jeannette Lyhan in Gold Hill, Illinois, her family moved to Los Angeles, California, when she was a small child. Her brother, Bert Hicks, was the Army buddy of Mario Lanza during their military service together during World War II. It was through her brother that she met and fell in love with Mario; it was virtually love at first sight, when Bert brought Mario to their home in Los Angeles for a home-cooked meal. Shortly after Mario's discharge from the Army, they were married on April 13, 1945 in a civil ceremony (and remarried on July 15, 1945 in a Catholic church for the benefit of his staunch Catholic parents). Together, they would have four children: Colleen, Elisa, Damon and Marc. During this time, she would mostly be a housewife and mother, while Mario built his Hollywood career. His career would reach a climax in 1951 with the film "The Great Caruso" (1951), a role that was a perfect fit for his talent. Mario's stardom was short-lived, as he had trouble with alcohol and barbiturates, as well as a ballooning weight problem. The weight problem caused him to lose movie roles. In 1954, he was to star in the lead role of Prince Karl in "The Student Prince" but the role went to Edmund Purdom instead, although it is Lanza's voice that does all of the singing. Having difficulty in finding roles in Hollywood, Mario decided to move the family to Italy, where he found work in Italian films. While filming "The Seven Hills of Rome" (1958) and "For the First Time" (1959) in Rome, Italy, he undertook a rigorous diet, using barbiturates to help him lose weight, which contributed to his heart attack and death at age 38, on October 7, 1959. After Mario's death, Betty returned to Los Angeles, bringing the children with her. She would drift through the next few months overwhelmed by grief, and in a haze of alcohol and tranquilizers. About five months after Mario's death she joined him, suffering from a broken heart. Officially, her death was ruled an accidental overdose of the medication she was taking for a respiratory ailment, with the cause of her death as "asphyxiation" due to the mixture of alcohol and tranquilizers. She was 37 years old.

(bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

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