THE FABULOUS GATEWAY SINGERS
Despite the robust and rousing sound produced by both Gateway organizations and their gifted male singers, it always seemed that the most lasting and fondest impression was left by the female member of the ensemble, in the case of the Gateway Trio, the blithe and vivacious Betty Mann.
While her touch at the guitar and beautiful voice met all the demanding qualifications required by the challenging arrangements the groups were noted for, it was her timing and genius for comedy which inevitably netted the deserved rave reviews by fans and critics alike.
Playing the wise dumb blonde in the tradition of Harlow, Gracie Allen and Marilyn Monroe, she repeatedly landed her zingers on the pompous character created by the endlessly hapless Jerry Walter.
Like that foil of her Gateway humor, Betty Mann started out as a child entertainer, and not only tread the boards, but also choreographed and staged many productions even before leaving high school.
A native of Montana, she began her musical career as a ballerina, having the unique distinction of running her own successful dance school while still in her teens.
After studying theatre arts, dance and music at the University of California, she returned to her roots, as it were, pursuing a career in the San Francisco area, singing country music under the name Betty Montana. An extraordinary yodler, she played bass and sang with a number of blue grass groups, culminating in her almost big break, as a finalist in the Gateway Singers' search to find a replacement for Elmerlee Thomas in 1960.
Betty Mann in the Gateway days
It was certainly not a lack of talent that left her runner up, but more of a question of the group wishing to retain its ethnic mix, when they chose a Japanese woman for the spot as female singer.
The quartet broke up shortly afterwards, but Jerry Walter had remembered the charming Montanan, and six months later, they began performing together under the name “Jerry Walter and Betty Mann.”
After touring the US successfully for the best part of a year, she finally did become a “Gateway singer” when Milt Chapman joined the pair within the year, and Capitol Records signed the group to a contract, instantly dubbing them The Gateway Trio after their catchy sound had been spotted by the company's talent scout in Seattle.
Capitol executives agreed that the stylish banter between Jerry Walter and Betty Mann made a `live' album the obvious choice for their first LP, and the resulting “Mad, Mad Mad The Gateway Trio” affords a fine taste of her comedic abilities, in addition to her wide range as a vocalist.
The Gateway era saw her cut another album for Capitol, as well as being featured on national television and the silver screen in addition to concert and club appearances across the country.
When the folk boom began to ebb in 1965, Betty Mann returned to a duo act with Jerry Walter (“Betty and Jer”), producing, writing and performing in educational films as well as doing commercials.
Rod McKuen and Pat Paulsen had been encouraging her to consider a solo career, and in 1969, she created her country-western act, touring military bases in the Far East. She also began appearing In the Los Angeles area with her one-woman show, later going on to join the Monti Montana Wild West Show as a yodeling cowgirl, a stint which also earned her new fans when they toured Japan.
Betty Mann today
Besides performing, Betty Mann also branched out into public relations and copywriting, and in 1971, she co-produced Hollywood's famed Santa Claus Lane Christmas Parade. Her flair for such projects kept her in demand as a creative administrator, but left little time for performing, and in 1976, she moved to her present home of Santa Barbara to join a firm of environmental consultants.
After a decade out of the limelight, occupied with “raising birds, chickens, flowers, plants and rehabbing wildlife,” she joined The Treble Clef Choir, and in 1990, became a regular cast member of the Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera Company, appearing in numerous musical productions as an actress and singer.
Besides looking after her husband, retired entomologist and environmental attorney Richard L. Doutt, Betty Mann presently produces the quarterly newsletter of the Santa Barbara Parkinson's Association (of which she is Vice President).
She is also currently working on her book about The Gateway Trio, “Puttin' On The Style,” the story of life on the road during the folk era, based on the journals she kept while the group toured.
Visit Betty Mann's own website at
And you won't want to miss
Experience your own hungry i reunion with the wonderful DVD featuring commentary by Enrico Banducci and performances by The Kingston Trio, Limeliters, Mort Sahl, jonathan Winters, Stan Wilson + rare Lenny Bruce footage. Just click the icon to order direct from Amazon!