When a little six-year-old kid named Betty Lou Gerson stopped the show back in Birmingham eighteen years ago during an amateur performance, the home folks predicted that someday she'd blaze her name along the footlight trails. And they might have been right about this child of the southland -- except for the fact that radio snatched her up before she had her feet firmly planted on the theatrical stage.
For more than four years now, this attractive brunette starlet has been talking back to a microphone.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 20, 1914, Gerson moved with her parents to Birmingham, Alabama, when she was two. Her father was president of the Southern Steel and Rolling Mill there and Gerson learned her readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic at the Margaret Allen School. Later she studied at Loulie Compton Seminary, also in Birmingham, and then went down to Miami, Florida, to wrestle with a curriculum offered at Miss Harris' School for Girls.
Whenever there was a school play, the lead automatically fell to Gerson -- and that none of the other girls resented it is a tribute to the dramatic talent she showed at even an early age. Acting came as naturally to her as purring to a kitten.
As soon as her school days were over, Gerson made her first excursion into the northland, heading for Chicago and its renowned Goodman Theatre. It wasn't long before she had graduated from the role of student -- and was teaching dramatics herself.
Instructing other aspiring young actresses in the technique of the theater was fun for awhile, but Gerson soon discovered that it wasn't what she wanted for a steady diet. It was merely a sublimation of her own desire -- this teaching other aspirants the means of accomplishing what she herself was secretly hungering to do.
Just about that time, opportunity beat a tattoo on her door. A playwright friend of hers asked her to read a sketch over the air. The letter applause resulting from this single appearance was so encouraging that Gerson decided the time had come for a concentrated attack on the radio front.
She gained an audition at the NBC Central Division Studios in Chicago in 1934 -- and from then on, her story has been one of sensational success. Her versatility -- she is equally proficient in roles calling for French, English or southern dialects, as well as in straight ingenue parts -- was an important factor in her speedy rise to stardom. Most recent of her stellar successes is her role in Arnold Grimm's Daughter, a daytime dramatic program heard daily over the NBC Network, in which she plays the lead part of the daughter, Constance Grimm Tremaine.
In private life Gerson is Mrs. Joe Ainsley, wife of a Chicago advertising agency radio production man, whom she married in 19365, two years after she had entered radio. Five feet four and a half inches tall, Gerson tips the scales at 112 pounds. Her curly hair is dark brown -- as are her enormous eyes.
Boating and swimming are her favorite hobbies and a camping trip is her idea of the perfect vacation. She hopes some day to be able to live in the country, preferably near a lake, and with a stable full of horses and a kennel full of dogs.
Edythe Dixon in Rural Radio, October 1938