Betty Brodel, Actress and Sister of ‘Sergeant York’ Star Joan Leslie, Dies at 104

Betty Brodel, a singer, actress and older sister of High Sierra and Sergeant York star Joan Leslie, died Sunday in Florida, family member Cathy Palmer told The Hollywood Reporter. She was 104.

Brodel appeared with Leslie in the wartime charity films Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) and Hollywood Canteen (1944), plus Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Too Young to Know (1945) and Cinderella Jones (1946).

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Elizabeth Ann Brodel was born in Detroit on Feb. 5, 1920. Her father, John Brodel, was a bank teller and her mother, Agnes, a pianist and homemaker.

She and her siblings Mary (born in 1916) and Joan (born in 1925) sang and danced in a vaudeville act called The Brodel Sisters, performing in their hometown and New York City and touring from Canada to Florida.

When a talent scout signed Mary to a contract at MGM, the family headed to Burbank, and the sisters appeared in the 1936 short film Signing Off.

Betty also showed up in Ladies Courageous (1944), Cover Girl (1944) and Swing Hostess (1944) before she married Joe Franzalia in 1948. They were together until his death in 1999.

SWING HOSTESS, from left, Claire Rochelle, Betty Brodel, Harry Holman, 1944
From left: Claire Rochelle, Betty Brodel and Harry Holman in 1944’s Swing Hostess

She had lived in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, since 1963.

Survivors include her children, Toni and Chuck; grandchildren Polly, Sonny and Danielle; and great-grandchildren, Taylor, Joe, Layla and Lily. Another son, Joseph, died in 1951, just days after he was born.

Leslie played the hobbled girl Velma in High Sierra (1941) opposite Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, the love interest of Gary Cooper’s World War I hero in Sergeant York (1941) and the wife of James Cagney’s George Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. She died in October 2015 at age 90.

And Mary Brodel, who appeared in films including Sunset Murder Case (1938), Down the Wyoming Trail (1939) and Signing Off (1936), died in June 2015 at age 98.

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