Betty Lou Bredemus

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Betty Lou Bredemus
Betty Lou Bredemus and Julia Roberts.jpg
Betty Lou Bredemus and Julia Roberts
Born(1934-08-13)August 13, 1934
DiedFebruary 19, 2015(2015-02-19) (aged 80)
OccupationActing coach
Walter Grady Roberts
(m. 1955;div. 1972)

Michael Motes
(m. 1972;div. 1983)
Children Julia Roberts
Eric Roberts
Lisa Roberts Gillan
Nancy Motes
Relatives Emma Roberts (granddaughter)

Betty Lou Bredemus (August 13, 1934 – February 19, 2015) was an American actress and acting coach. The matriarch of the Roberts family, which includes Academy Award-winning actress Julia Roberts, Academy Award- nominee actor Eric Roberts, and granddaughter Emma Roberts, she also served in the United States Air Force and received a National Defense Service Medal for her service, which was spent entertaining the troops in Air Force base theatrical productions. [1]

Julia Roberts American actress and producer

Julia Fiona Roberts is an American actress and producer. She became a Hollywood star after headlining the romantic comedy Pretty Woman (1990), which grossed $464 million worldwide. She has won three Golden Globe Awards, from eight nominations, and has been nominated for four Academy Awards for her film acting, winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Erin Brockovich (2000).

Eric Roberts American actor

Eric Anthony Roberts is an American actor. His career began with a leading role in King of the Gypsies (1978), for which he received his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He was again recognized by the Golden Globes for his interpretation of Paul Snider in Bob Fosse's Star 80 (1983). Roberts' performance in Runaway Train (1985), as prison escapee Buck McGeehy, earned him a nomination for a third Golden Globe and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Emma Roberts American actress and singer

Emma Rose Roberts is an American actress and singer. After making her film debut as Kristina Jung in the crime film Blow (2001), Roberts gained recognition for her lead role as Addie Singer on the Nickelodeon television series Unfabulous (2004–2007). She released her debut studio album Unfabulous and More in 2005. Roberts then appeared in numerous films, including Aquamarine (2006), Nancy Drew (2007), Wild Child (2008), Hotel for Dogs (2009), Valentine's Day (2010), It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010), and The Art of Getting By (2011).


Early life and education

Betty Lou Bredemus was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Wendell John Bredemus (1904-1955), a football player, and Elizabeth Ellen (née Billingsley). [2]

Minneapolis Largest city in Minnesota

Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County and the larger of the Twin Cities, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. As of 2017, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 45th-largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 422,331. The Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of Minneapolis, its neighbor Saint Paul, and suburbs which altogether contain about 3.6 million people, and is the third-largest economic center in the Midwest.


Bredemus met her husband Walter Grady Roberts (1933-1977) while performing in the play George Washington Slept Here together, which was directed by Rance Howard, father of director Ron Howard. Howard and his wife Jean, Roberts and Bredemus became close friends, and decided to tour to a couple of USO bases performing plays. Bredemus and Roberts were married in 1955, and soon after their first child was born, actor Eric Roberts in April 1956.

<i>George Washington Slept Here</i> 1942 film by William Keighley

George Washington Slept Here is a 1942 comedy film starring Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan, Charles Coburn, Percy Kilbride, and Hattie McDaniel. It was based on the 1940 play of the same name by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, adapted by Everett Freeman, and was directed by William Keighley.

Rance Howard American actor

Rance Howard was an American actor who starred in film and on television. He was the father of actor and filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, and grandfather of the actresses Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard.

Ron Howard American film director, producer, and actor

Ronald William Howard is an American filmmaker and actor. Howard is best known for playing two high-profile roles in television sitcoms in his youth and directing a number of successful feature films later in his career.

After the army, Walter decided to pursue a career as a playwright, so he moved the family to Louisiana so he could attend Tulane University. The family lived on campus in family housing. Walter left school just shy of graduating, and he moved the family to Decatur, Georgia in 1960. Bredemus soon began working at Emory University in the public relations area, while Walter worked in various theatrical jobs. [3]

Tulane University private university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is the top university and the most selective institution of higher education in the state of Louisiana. The school is known to attract a geographically diverse student body, with 85 percent of undergraduate students coming from over 300 miles away.

Decatur, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia that is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 20,148 in the 2013 census, the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple ZIP Codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations. The city is located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with Atlanta.

Emory University private research university in Druid Hills, Georgia, United States

Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, Georgia. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia, by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory. In 1915, Emory College moved to its present location in Druid Hills and was rechartered as Emory University. Emory maintained a presence in Oxford that eventually became Oxford College, a residential liberal arts college for the first two years of the Emory baccalaureate degree. The university is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the United States.

In 1965, Bredemus and Roberts created a children's show for the local network titled Bum Bum and His Buddies. In the first episode, Bredemus played the role of Bum Bum the clown. Betty and Walter had previously created a short-lived series titled Creole Capers. After 15 episodes of Buddies, Bredemus and Roberts moved on to create the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop, teaching classes to youth ages five to eighteen. [4] Also in 1965 Bredemus gave birth to their daughter Lisa. The workshop became a huge success and popular among the children of Atlanta.

Among the children that enrolled were the children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta. Their eldest daughter Yolanda King took acting classes taught by Walter. In 1967, their daughter Julia Roberts was born. Bredemus' pregnancy caused commotion within the workshop community as she temporarily had to stop performing the various tasks needed to put on a show. When Julia was born Betty and Walter were experiencing financial difficulty, and Coretta Scott King offered to pay the hospital bill. [5] The King children were taking classes at the workshop when their father was assassinated.

Coretta Scott King American author, activist, and civil rights leader. Wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott King helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. She was an active advocate for African-American equality. King met her husband while attending graduate school in Boston. They both became increasingly active in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was also a singer, and often incorporated music into her civil rights work.

Yolanda King American actress

Yolanda Denise King was an African American activist and first-born child of civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was also known for her artistic and entertainment endeavors and public speaking. Her childhood experience was greatly influenced by her father's highly public and influential activism.

The workshop eventually closed, and Roberts and Bredemus divorced in 1972. [6] She married Michael Motes and gave birth to their daughter, Nancy, in 1976. Motes was abusive and often unemployed. In 1983, Bredemus divorced Motes, citing cruelty and stating that marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. [7] She went back to using her maiden name of Bredemus.

Later life and death

Bredemus encouraged her children's acting careers through the 1980s and 1990s but largely stayed out of the limelight. Her daughter Nancy Motes died on February 9, 2014 at age 37. [8]

Bredemus died on February 19, 2015, in Los Angeles after a battle with lung cancer. She was 80 years old, and is survived by three children and six grandchildren. [9]

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  1. McNeil, Liz (February 19, 2015). "Julia Roberts's Mother, Betty Lou Bredemus, Has Died". Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  2. "Wendell John Bredemus". Minnesota, Death Index. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  3. "Julia Roberts booking". Entertainment Book Agency. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  4. "Julia Roberts Biography — Yahoo! Movies". Archived from the original on 2005-12-03. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  5. Spada, James (2007). Julia: Her Life. Macmillan. ISBN   9781429980975.
  6. "Julia: Her Life", James Spada. St Martin's Press, New York. Page 32
  7. Bucktin, Christopher (2013-11-17). "Picture exclusive: Julia Roberts smiles through the terror of abusive stepfather she 'feared and despised'". Daily Mirror . Retrieved 2014-01-02.
  8. Julia Roberts Breaks Silence on sister
  9. Marquina, Sierra (February 19, 2015). "Julia Roberts' Mother Betty Lou Bredemus Passes Away at the Age of 80 After Battling Lung Cancer". US Weekly. Retrieved February 22, 2015.