Anaheim Loses Custom Car Guru Stan Betz

Legendary hot rodder and custom car builder, Stan Betz from Class of ’46, passed away today (Sept. 28). An AHS Hall of Famer, Stan had recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

Betz, who lost his right leg below the knee to polio at age 3, grew up  on a 10-acre orange ranch on Lemon Street in Anaheim.

But Betz wasn’t interested in ranching or learning his father’s skill as a hybridizer of orange trees and other fruit bearing plants.

What really caught his attention, and kept his interest for the rest of his life, was cars. And he had a great role model to encourage him.

His uncle Dick Kraft, one of the original hot rodders, was known for his many innovations, which included building and driving the first rail job called “The Bug.” A clone of “The Bug” is on display in the National Hot Rod Association Museum in Pomona. Kraft’s other custom-built cars are highly collectible.

Like his uncle, Stan’s cars have become famous in the automotive world and are shining examples of his legendary skills as a master car builder and painter.

His journey to becoming the center of the 1950s rod and custom culture, as well as a businessman who figured out a way to make money at doing something he loved, included a stop at Anaheim High School.

A 1946 grad, Betz confesses to having spent most of days at Anaheim High in the machine shop working on hot rods. He owned a Model-A roadster with a V-8 engine that was shoe-horned in during welding shop. Three years later he built a track T that he raced on local outlaw tracks when he wasn’t working the night shift at a gas station.

Back in the ‘50s, when hot rodding and car clubs were in high gear, Stan’s shop (a single car garage he rented for five bucks a month located in the alley behind the police station) was the meeting spot for The Street Sweepers, a car club he founded, named and sponsored.

Along with holding their meetings, the Sweepers would punch louvers, which are vents located in strategic positions on a car’s body to allow hot air to escape. Betz and his team were stamping louvers in hot rods, racecar hoods, deck lids, fenders, or anything a custom-car owner wanted punched. Guys came from miles around to get ventilated.

AHS Yearbook Ad of the Bean Hut

When not at Betz’s shop, the Sweepers would hang out at the 76 Station at the corner of Palm (Harbor) and Center (Lincoln) or at the Bean Hut, a.k.a the La Palma Drive-In. The Sweepers gave this iconic hangout the nickname “Bean Hut” and the drive-in became the favorite of car clubs throughout Orange County and beyond.

Back in the 1950s Stan drove a 1932 Sedan with a “hot flat head” that he finished in bright yellow. He also owned a ’51 Ford pick-up with Von Dutch flames, a cut down hood and “big and little” tires.

His love affair with the automobile continued throughout the decades when members of the Street Sweepers traded in their custom rides for college degrees and lives in the slow lane. Stan stayed in the trade and created automotive masterpieces.

When the louver business slowed down, Betz added paint products to his enterprise, which became Betz Speed and Color. His shop became known as the best place to find the exact color, especially for customers who wanted to match an existing stock or custom paint color.

Featured in countless magazine and newspaper articles, Betz has also been included in “Hot Rod History – Book Two: The Glory Years” by Tom Medley. Chapter Two is dedicated to Betz, “one of the best paint mixers around. Betz works in the sun and can match paint to an exactness that defies even the computers.”

One of his award-winning vehicles was a roadster he named “2032,” a completely custom-crafted candy raspberry red highboy pickup with Lincoln Mark VIII running gear.

Along with cars, Stan had a unique collection of MGM movie miniature cars, boats, trains and other vehicles that Hollywood filmed being driven over cliffs, crushed, crashed and blown up in thousands of movies. The 100-piece collection was featured in an early episode of “Visiting with Huell Howser.”

Charles Walters – Class of 1930

Charles Walters6.inddOne of Anaheim High’s best kept secrets is Class of 1930 graduate Charles Walters who became a successful Broadway and Hollywood dancer, choreographer and director.

In a book about his life, Charles Walters – The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips, Walters is credited with being “responsible for staging some of the best remembered (now iconic) film musical sequences of the 1940s, showcasing Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, and too many other major Hollywood stars to list.

Following this, he directed — and often simultaneously choreographed — some of the most popular movie musicals made during Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio’s “golden age” and beyond. From his earliest directorial triumphs, Good News, Easter Parade, and The Barkleys of Broadway to his smash hits Lili, High Society, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

After graduating from Anaheim, he attended USC to study law to please his family, but after a year he turned to his true love of theater and dance and learned his trade at the Pasadena Playhouse, one of the finest schools of dramatics on the West Coast.

His success on Broadway probably didn’t surprise his Anaheim High drama coach and fellow students. According to One to Twenty-Eight: A History of Anaheim Union High School District by Louise Booth, the first musical comedy performed at Anaheim starred student Walters in fall of 1928. Heigh-Ho was co-written and directed by Walters and his teacher Faye Schulz and “featured dancing and singing in the current Hollywood style.” So popular were the school productions during this time, tickets were sold at a downtown store, where patrons stood in line to get choice seats.

 

 

 

Stan Betz – Class of 1946

Stan Betz - Class of 1946

Stan Betz – Class of 1946

Stan Betz – Class of 1946 – An icon in the world of custom cars and hot rods who continues creating automotive master pieces into this late 80s: http://www.anaheimcolonists.com/stan-betz/

Clint Stark ’59 Joins List of Anaheim High Hall of Famers

Clint Stark - st. louis cardinalsBaseball was very good to Anaheim High Class of 1959 graduate Clint Stark. On the flip side, Clint Stark was very good for baseball, as well as his alma mater and the community at large.

A left-hand pitcher who stood at 6-foot-4 and weighed in at 175 pounds, Clint signed with the St. Louis Cardinals National League Baseball Club on Sept. 10, 1959.  He played for 11 years, including a stint in the Army in 1963, when he continued to pitch for his military team.

Among his career highlights was being the exercise partner of Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial’s for three years. Musial was a Major League Baseball outfielder and first baseman on the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 seasons, from 1941 through 1963. [Read more…]

Hollywood Legend Marie Wilson – Class of 1933

Mabelle Marie Wilson 1932When growing up in the Colony, she went by Maybelle. But Katharine Elizabeth Wilson soon dropped the nickname when her family moved to Hollywood and she sat her sights on an entertainment career. Maybelle transformed into radio, TV and film star Marie Wilson, a blonde bombshell whose new moniker became a household name.

The only Anaheim High graduate with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Marie earned national recognition for her role as the voluptuous blonde, scatter-brained secretary in “My Friend Irma,” the title role of a radio series that became one of the most popular shows of the late 1940s.

She starred in the television series of the same name from 1952 to 1954, then played the character in two movies titled, “My Friend Irma” and “My Friend Irma Goes West” featuring the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

[Read more…]