07 September 2015

Betsy Bell

Beautiful blond and blue-eyed German actress Betsy Bell appeared in Italian action films and Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Betsy Bell
German postcard by Krüger. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1965. Photo: Georg Michalke.


Who was Betsy Bell? At the internet, the best known Betsy Bell was a historical witch who lived in Adams, Tennessee, in the early 19th century. She was called 'The Bell Witch', and became the subject of a poltergeist legend in Southern United States folklore. The legend was the basis of three horror films The Bell Witch Haunting (Ric White, 2004), An American Haunting (Courtney Solomon, 2006) featuring Rachel Hurd-Wood as Betsy Bell, and Bell Witch: The Movie (Shane Marr, 2007). According to Wikipedia, the Bell Witch may have also inspired The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, 1999).

However, the girl at this postcard is not a poltergeist but another Betsy Bell. She came from Hamburg in Germany. Glamour photographer Georg Michalke must have taken her picture in the early 1960s. We adore his sexy pictures for several Krüger postcards of the 1950s and 1960s. Find some more of his photos on the postcards below, but also check out our post on him.

One of the few places we could find some information about this modern Betsy was the International Movie Database, but the IMDb does not mention her birth date nor her birth place. Only that she was born in Germany. So, Betsy Bell was probably a nom de plume and made up by someone with a black sense of humour - to name such a sweet beauty after a horrifying witch.

Betsy Bell was one of these many North-European starlets who traveled to Rome in the 1950s and early 1960s. Rome was the European film Mecca at the time, and in Italy she appeared in seven genre films as blond eye candy. Her first known film was the Italian Peplum Il sepolcro dei re/Cleopatra's Daughter (Fernando Cerchio, 1960) starring Debra Paget as Shila, the daughter of Cleopatra. Betsy played just a small part.

Three years later she was seen in Tototruffa '62 (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1963), one of Italy’s favourite Totò comedies. Again Betsy’s part was only a minor one. She then played a German student in a segment of the anthology film Gli amanti latini/Latin Lovers (Mario Costa, 1965), also with Totò. The anthology film was a popular European genre in the early 1960s, but the attractive blonde would play her most important roles in another popular Euro-film genre of the 1960s, the Spaghetti Western.

Elke Sommer
Elke Sommer by Georg Michalke. German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Templehof, no. CK 407. Photo: Georg Michalke/Ufa.

Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale by Georg Michalke. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/164. Photo: Georg Michalke / Ufa.

Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee by Georg Michalke. German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/356. Photo: Georg Michalke.

Blonde Bar-room Chanteuse

Betsy Bell was the leading lady in Quanto costa morire/A Taste of Death (Sergio Merolle, 1968), starring Andrea Giordana, John Ireland and Raymond Pellegrin. This Western tells the tale of a retired sheriff, who is the only one to stand up against a gang of cattle thieves, which terrorizes the people of a snow swept Colorado mountain town.

The result was mediocre, and at IMDb, Van Roberts writes: “A Taste of Death lacks any sense of style and director Sergio Merolle doesn't do anything that has been done before.” In his review Betsy Bell is not even mentioned.

Next she appeared in the war drama Il dito nella piaga/Salt in the Wound/The Liberators (Tonino Ricci, 1969). She again played the female lead and the male stars were Uruguay-born actor George Hilton and German star Klaus Kinski. At IMDb, a Sgt. Slaughter writes: “A highly picked-on, but nearly perfect Italian WW II drama / action piece with a first-rate cast and some fantastic action footage. The film is so good, that it was basically re-made by Enzo Castellari years later as Deadly Mission.” And again there is no mention of the female star.

Bell played a smaller role as a saloon singer in Sartana nella valle degli avvoltoi/Sartana in the Valley of Death (Roberto Mauri, 1970) starring William Berger. Mario Gauci reviews at IMDb: “This is the first entry I've watched in a long-running series of Spaghetti Westerns revolving around the titular figure, played here by William Berger; as such, he displays no particular features that would make him stand out from similar anti-heroes (such as The Man With No Name or Django) and, in fact, is never even referred to by that nickname!” Gauci refers briefly to Bell: “For the record, the song playing over the opening credits King For A Day is quite decent and is even warbled, for no good reason, by a blonde bar-room chanteuse at one point in the film.”

Betsy Bell’s final film was the Spanish-Italian actioner Siete minutos para morir/7 Minutes To Die (Ramón Fernández, 1971). She played the female lead and her co-stars were Paolo Gozlino (aka Paul Stevens) and again, George Hilton. To promote the film, she was (already in June 1966!) on the cover of Hola!, a Spanish magazine which called her 'la bella actriz hamburguesa' (the beautiful actress from Hamburg). She was quoted that her love life more was more important to her than her career.

That explains probably why we could not find more information about Betsy Bell. If you know what happened to Betsy, let us know.

US trailer for Il dito nella piaga/Salt in the Wound (1969). Source: Cronosmantos (YouTube).

Trailer for Sartana nella valle degli avvoltoi/Sartana in the Valley of Death (1970). Source: Lindberg SWDB (YouTube).

Sources: Hola! (Nº 1138 - 18 junio 1966), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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