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Famous People in the Finger Lakes

Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming (1905-1998)

Born Dieta Adelaide Fish in Scranton Pennsylvania, Cumming graduated with a bachelor's degree in piano and voice from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in 1926. She left the Finger Lakes to teach music at tAdelaide Fish Hawley Cumming in her role as Betty Crocker.he Alabama College School of Music. Intending to pursue a career in opera, she went to New York City but instead joined two friends to form the trio "Red, Black and Gold," each member with their hair appropiately dyed, that sang in vaudeville, on the radio and in churches.

 

In 1935 Cumming began an extensive radio broadcasting career and even hosted her own show--Adelaide Hawley Program. But her most famous role was on television rather than radio.

 

The General Mills Company created the character of Betty Crocker in 1948 to answer baking questions American women sent to the company by letter. General Mills hired Cumming because it thought she represented the stereotypical image of the American homemaker. From 1950-1952 Cumming appeared on the half-hour Betty Crocker Show and in 1952 on the Betty Crocker Star Matinee and Bride and Groom. She also appeared in many commericals touting cake mixes and other General Mills products. General Mills billed Cumming as "America's First Lady of Food" until 1964 when it dropped her at the age of 59 for someone younger.

 

After receiving a Ph.D. from New York University, Cumming went on to a second career as a teacher of English as a second language.

 

When Cumming died, at the age of 93, Jack Sheehan, a spokesperson for General Mills in Minneapolis, said that while Cumming played Betty Crocker, she was, "the second most recognizable woman [in the country] next to Eleanor Roosevelt" and "probably the most visible Betty of all time."

 

Cumming's archives at located at Harvard University. See: http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~sch00536

 

See Cumming as Betty Crocker at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeJ2UrrF2Rk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcrCyypYEuI

 

More info on Betty Crocker

 

Updated 23 August 2011

 

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