For more than 31 years, Betty Taylor graced the stage of Disneyland’s popular Golden Horseshoe Revue. She made famous the role of Slue Foot Sue, the spunky leader of a troupe of western dance hall girls. Betty became the darling of nearly 10 million guests, who, over the years, visited the saloon to see the world’s longest-running stage show. In the nearly 45,000 performances in which she appeared, the charming, vivacious blonde never lost her girlish enthusiasm for playing the role of Pecos Bill’s sweetheart. As former Disneyland magic shop cast member, comedian Steve Martin, wrote in Betty’s autograph book, “How come I’m the only one who grows old around here?”
Born on October 7, 1919, in Seattle, Washington, Betty began taking dance lessons at age three. By the age of 12, she appeared in her first professional stage production in Vancouver, British Colombia. At 14, she sang and danced in nightclubs across the country, and, by 18, she led her own band—Betty and Her Beaus. The group, which included 16 male musicians, appeared regularly at the Trianon Ballroom in Seattle.
She went on to perform with a western radio show, “Sons of the Pioneers,” and traveled with big band leaders Les Brown, Henry Bussey, and Red Nichols. She even played a six-week stint in Las Vegas with “old blue eyes” himself, Frank Sinatra.
In 1956, while living in Los Angeles, Betty was about to hit the road playing drums for a musical group when she heard about auditions for a singing-and-hoofing job in Walt Disney’s new theme park. She threw her garter into the ring, so to speak, and was hired as Slue Foot Sue. She later described the role as “not a hard character, but rather like a Mae West or a Kitty on the vintage television series Gunsmoke.”
On occasion, Betty and the 10-member Revue troupe performed outside of the Park. In 1968, for instance, they took their act on a USO tour of Greenland and Newfoundland, and, two years later, performed for President Richard Nixon and his family in the White House. Walt Disney personally asked Betty to perform a variation of her Golden Horseshoe routine on national television, with comedian Ed Wynn, in an episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.
Betty retired from the Golden Horseshoe Revue in 1987. She continued to appear at special events, such as “Walt Disney’s Wild West;” this retrospective of Walt’s vision of the American West was showcased at the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles in 1995.
Betty Taylor passed away at home on June 4, 2011, just one day after her fellow Golden Horseshoe alumnus and Disney Legend, Wally Boag.