Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story highlights a vocal legend from the past and details her life, loves, and legacy.


The Description

Publication Date: January 28, 2023

She voiced one of Disney’s most infamous villainesses. With her husky timbre and most unforgettable cackle, Betty Lou Gerson terrified an entire generation as Disney’s original “Cruella de Vil” in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). Betty used her whiskey-soaked voice to give us an innovative portrait of elegant villainy beyond entertainment’s stereotypical “old hag” antagonists in radio, film, and television. She had a prolific radio career in both Chicago and Hollywood before the silver screen and was featured in many popular television series in the 1950s and 1960s such as Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Hazel. Though “Cruella” is perhaps her most recognized role, she also performed in other beloved film classics including Cinderella (1950), Mary Poppins (1964), and Cats Don’t Dance (1997).

The great irony of Betty’s story is that while her voice frightened audiences through nearly all mediums, off mic, she was in fact no villainess at all. Betty traversed through some of the most volatile eras in American history, while overcoming many personal tragedies of her own. She was among twentieth century entertainment pioneers and an iconic voice of feminism.

Learn the compelling story of Betty Lou Gerson as the “voice of villainy.”

The Review

Long before Glenn Close and Emma Stone donned the two-toned colored wig transforming them into Cruella de Vil, the character came to life through the voice of Betty Lou Gerson.

Author Lona Bailey takes readers on a biographical journey in Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story. From the humble beginnings of her ancestors to the eventual wealth-building of her father, the story shows how the young girl grew up amid privilege in the Deep South.

As a posthumous depiction of Betty Lou, the information contained in the book is culled from a variety of sources. Of particular interest are accounts related to her schooling, which was designed to produce refined young women. Needless to say, Betty Lou’s choice of professions fell short of expectations.

The author chronicles Betty Lou’s debut into the budding world of radio and her acclaimed success as a soap star. There are detailed descriptions showcasing the various challenges Betty Lou faced with the rise of television and films. Her role in a Disney film cemented her success.

Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story highlights a vocal legend from the past and details her life, loves, and legacy.Buy Links

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About The Author

Lona Bailey is a Golden Age of Hollywood researcher and writer of “Uncredited: The Life and Career of Actress Virginia Gregg” and “The Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story.”

As a PhD and former therapist, Lona is passionate about telling the untold #storiesofwomen who perhaps weren’t finished using their own voices during their earthly journeys. Lona is a mother of three with a balanced perspective on the multidimensional elements involved in legacy-maintenance with particular interest in the preservation efforts of the #GoldenAgeofHollywood. Lona’s #biographic works are delicately researched and written with a candid and fair pen and plenty of room for levity. 

#OldHollywood holds millions of secrets in its gothic #sensationalism; with its #darksecrets, come just as many shimmering triumphs– and Old Hollywood wouldn’t be as we know it without both. 


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Amy Wilson
Amy Wilson
My name is Amy W., and I am a book addict. I will never forget the day I came home from junior high school to find my mom waiting for me with one of the Harlequin novels from my stash. As she was gearing up for the "you shouldn't be reading this" lecture, I told her the characters get married in the end. I'm just glad she didn't find the Bertrice Small book hidden in my closet. I have diverse reading tastes, evident by the wide array of genres on my Kindle. As I made the transition to an e-reader, I found myself worrying that something could happen to it. As a result, I am now the proud owner of four Kindles -- all different kinds, but plenty of back-ups! "Fifty Shades of Grey" gets high marks on my favorites list -- not for character development or dialogue (definitely not!), but because it blazed new ground for those of us who believe provocative fiction is more than just an explicit cover. Sylvia Day, Lexie Blake, and Kristin Hannah are some of my favorite authors. Speaking of diverse tastes, I also enjoy Dean Koontz, Iris Johansen, and J.A. Konrath. I’m always ready to discover new-to-me authors, especially when I toss in a palate cleanser that is much different than what I would normally read. Give me something with a well-defined storyline, add some suspense (or spice), and I am a happy reader. Give me a happily ever after, and I am downright giddy.


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Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story highlights a vocal legend from the past and details her life, loves, and legacy.5-STAR REVIEW: THE VOICE OF VILLAINY by Lona Bailey, PhD