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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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RIP Betty Luster

About four months ago, a brief notice in the West Palm Beach, Florida, newspapers noted the passing of Betty L. Prentis. She was 89. She was mostly known as the widow of Edmund “Ned” Prentis III. The two were fond of big game hunting, fishing and “world class croquet” according to one report (he died in 1997). Close friends noted that Betty had a career as a dancer before she married.
She did indeed.
Prentis, in her show biz days, performed on Broadway and television. And in 1956, in one of her final performances, Luster was hired to play the title character in a promotional film sponsored by the musical instrument manufacturer C. G. Conn. Thirty-five years later, that performance was discovered by the creators “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” and the legend of Mr. B. Natural was born.
Born in 1922, Betty Luster grew up in New Jersey where, in 1937, she won a local beauty contest. That success apparently brought her to London, where she spent several years as a showgirl with the Dorchester Hale dance troupe. In 1939 she appeared in an early television broadcast on the fledgling BBC Television.
By 1940 she was back in the U.S., dancing in the Broadway production of Irving Berlin’s “Louisiana Purchase.” She was a showgirl in Miami Beach in the mid 1940s, and later appeared in an opera.
Luster served as co-hostess of the 1950 CBS game show “Sing It Again,” a progenitor to “Name That Tune,” where contestants would attempt to identify songs from just a few notes. She also appeared on the short-lived NBC variety show “Seven at Eleven.” In 1955 she was back on Broadway in “The Wayward Saint,” which closed after a few weeks.
Luster was a successful TV station programming consultant for several years until she met and married Prentis, when she retired.
Thanks to commenter “Creeping Terror,” who alerted us that Betty passed away May 25th of this year.

43 comments to RIP Betty Luster

  • 1
    Andrew says:

    Knew my father, she did.

       15 likes

  • 2
    GizmonicTemp says:

    Bless you, Betty. You touched us all (a good touch) whether you wanted to or not.

       11 likes

  • 3
    wotunw5o says:

    Wow, all this time Mr. B. Natural was somewhere in my hometown as I grew up.

       1 likes

  • 4
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    R.I.P.

       1 likes

  • 5
    mst3ktemple says:

    Betty, you brought (possibly unintentional)laughter to many. RIP.

       1 likes

  • 6
    Dwilesjr says:

    RIP Mrs. Luster, you are one of the topics I contantly refer to when I discuss MST3K, your short has brought me much joy and laughter

       3 likes

  • 7
    fonyo says:

    I’m not a happy king.

       13 likes

  • 8
    AlbuquerqueTurkey says:

    Betty, this band-geek family got so much joy out of Mr. B Natural. I still play trumpet in Albuquerque’s all-volunteer band,my daughter plays clarinet, my son played sax, and my wife was a band mom. Of course, the riffing from J&TB was great, but the short is a delight all by itself. RIP, wonderful sexless man-woman!

    “A clarinet is not just a clarinet – it’s a happy smile!”

    And yes, @7, as a trumpet player, today I, too, am not a happy king.

       5 likes

  • 9
    Valnastar says:

    Farewell, Ms Luster. Your performance as Mr B Natural will have a smiling for ages yet to come.

       4 likes

  • 10
    Valnastar says:

    Yes, she may have been an “annoying, shrill succubus”, but she was OUR annoying, shrill succubus.

    ;_;

       15 likes

  • 11
    Critter says:

    R.I.P. Betty,
    You’ve achieved something that many did not in your profession:
    Your art is adored by many still to this day. I’ll wish you well
    wherever you are every time I see that short, which is often.

       6 likes

  • 12
    frankenforcer says:

    Oh wow, I wonder if she ever knew that she brought endless joy to thousands of people and was the most memorable character ever riffed. RIP Betty, you were always a happy king and you were loved by many.

       6 likes

  • 13
    Gary Bowden says:

    R.I.P. Betty Cry

       2 likes

  • 14
    John M Hanna says:

    Damn, thats sad. And right after we talked about her this week. I wonder if she knew of her MST3K fame?

       6 likes

  • 15
    Max says:

    Wow. And she really liked to kill things…

       5 likes

  • 16
    radioman970 says:

    Mr. B will always make me feel funny…down there.

    RIP. She really did do a wonderful job with the role. They should have cast her in Peter Pan.

       5 likes

  • 17
    Revlillo says:

    Even though she was cast as a somewhat annoying character in the short (that’s my understatement for the day), I could tell she was a person of boundless energy and cheer. Oh Betty, we hardly knew ye. weep

       3 likes

  • 18
    Captn Ross Hagen says:

    Do you think ” Buzz ” will play a sweet solo at her funeral???

       5 likes

  • 19
    Captn Ross Hagen says:

    I’ll always remember to polish my horn every day.

       6 likes

  • 20
    Captn Ross Hagen says:

    Really this was always one of my favorite shorts on MST3k. Betty sure was cute when she did this short. She was a “she” right, or do I like guys now?

       7 likes

  • 21
    mansquatch says:

    Thank you Mrs. Prentis, for creating the most entertaining androgynous character ever. Prince will never know how much he owes you for opening the door for Your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine gendered entertainers.

       5 likes

  • 22
    Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    Forget music, I wanna dance!

       5 likes

  • 23
    darthservo says:

    Does anyone know if Buzz is still around?

       2 likes

  • 24

    Wasn’t she married to Martin Sheen?

       0 likes

  • 25
    Kathy says:

    She was in an opera? And later moved into television management? Then one marriage for life? You go, Girl!

    Sounds like she had a wonderful life. Smile RIP

       8 likes

  • 26
    big61al says:

    Another bright light twinkling in the constellation MST3K. You were the most attractive man I have ever seen. We’ll miss you Betty and we’ll never forget you.Heart

       4 likes

  • 27
    Trilaan says:

    So…she WAS a woman?

       4 likes

  • 28
    B. Lurker says:

    Oh, Betty, if only you knew what you’ve contributed to the world of MST3k. RIP

       3 likes

  • 29
    snowdog says:

    I didn’t find Mr B annoying at all. If you watch her performance closely, you can tell she knows she’s being silly and having a lot of fun with it. RIP, Mrs Prentis. You can visit my father anytime.

       8 likes

  • 30
    lancecorbain says:

    Bellevue!!!! Sorry, that’s my favorite riff from the short. I, too, wonder if she ever saw her old short on MST. Probably not.

       2 likes

  • 31
    moose says:

    rest i peace you man/woman pixie whatever!somewhere a guy who went by “buzz”is crying!

       2 likes

  • 32
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    “It stinks!”

       1 likes

  • 33
    Mitchell Rowsdower Beardsley says:

    R.I.P. Mrs. Prentis.

    And now the world knows that Crow was right. She was a sprightly woman.

    “Oh, Mr. B!”

       2 likes

  • 34
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Reposted from the #319 War of the Colossal Beast/Mr. B Natural Episode guide entry:

    For your information:
    MR. B NATURAL short is available on DVD-R and good ol’ VHS from SOMETHING WEIRD VIDEO on their “Campy Classroom Classics Vol. 15,” along with 7 other shorts, all for just 10 dollars.

    Now go wash your horn, boy.

       1 likes

  • 35
    Alex says:

    R.I.P Mrs. Luster. You have brought tons of happy faces in the Mr. B Natural short. Frown

       2 likes

  • 36
    Ben says:

    I will forever remember Ms. Prentis. Whi8le I’d seen several episodes of MSTSK, this particular one caught my imagination like no other (thanks Frank Coniff!). The short “Mr. B. Natural” hung onto me like one of Clive Barker’s cenobytes…not in a bad way, but in a way that I recalled from *educational films* we junior high schoolers were forced to watched in the 60′s.
    Ms. Prentis was in fact a talented performer…may the MST3K cover live forever!!

       2 likes

  • 37
    Creeping Terror says:

    Wow. I stumbled on the info of Mrs. Prentis’s death on Wikipedia last Monday, so I’m definitely not the first MSTies that learned of her death. So, I didn’t expect this… But it’s nice to know that this is probably my biggest contribution ever to the discussion boards.

    As for my tribute to Mr. B Natural, I thought of donning my favorite pair of tights and appearing in the lockers of middle school boys, but it’s too soon.

       1 likes

  • 38
    Dan in WI says:

    I can see the tombstone:
    Mr. B Natural…You’re hot.

       1 likes

  • 39
    (The Original) Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy says:

    Goodbye Mr. B. You were enjoyed. I like to think I became a music major (in part) because of you.

       3 likes

  • 40
    Yipe Striper says:

    wonderful woman. R.I.P.

       3 likes

  • 41
    April de Wetpants says:

    Thank you for finding and sharing this. Mrs Prentis helped bring my family and I out of a sour mood many a time.

    RIP

       4 likes

  • 42

    Aw, that’s sad. If you do a search in Google’s LIFE picture archive there’s a shot of her from 1947:
    http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=12acafe8098ece58

    Notice the curious gentleman in the background, eyeing the camera. “Mr B Natural” comes in for a lot of stick, but it’s not really directed at Betty’s performance; she had gusto. It’s the setup that was odd – that, and trying to pass off the leggy Luster as a man.

       0 likes

  • 43
    radioman970 says:

    ^ whoah…. she was a beauty. Beverly Garland, step to the side a little hon… Razz

       0 likes