Elton and Betty White
aka: Elton White
aka: Betty White
In the mid- to late 1980s, Elton and Betty White were highly visible Little Rock (Pulaski County) street musicians and eccentrics, recognized for their sexually explicit ukulele songs and their flamboyant wardrobe of sombreros and skimpy swimwear.
Betty White was born Betty Crandall in 1927 in Mabelvale (Pulaski County), one of seven children of the town’s postmaster and his wife. In 1946, after graduating as valedictorian of Mabelvale High School, she married air force sergeant Scotty White, with whom she had a son, Sammy. Together, they traveled the nation and the world. After returning to Arkansas, she found secretarial work with the law firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, for whom Bill Clinton was then practicing. Following a diagnosis of schizophrenia, though, Betty divorced her husband and lost her job.
Elton White was born in 1958 in Dumas (Desha County). A high school basketball star, he played four years of college ball at Westark Community College (now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith) and the University of the Ozarks. He tried out with the Atlanta Hawks, but his professional prospects were eradicated by a knee injury. He moved to Little Rock, finding work as a day laborer, until the night someone “put something in his drink,” as he often told the story, and he fell on hard times.
Elton and Betty met in 1984 at Little Rock’s Union Rescue Mission, and despite the thirty-year age difference between the white woman and the black man, “It was love at first sight,” Betty later recalled, adding, “There was a real magnetism.” The two of them began delivering newspapers and writing music together, renting an apartment at the Albert Pike Residence Hotel. They married in 1989.
From 1986 to 1989, with the assistance of producer Jerry Colburn, they released three albums—The Best of Elton and Betty, Sex Beyond the Door, and Hard Deep Sex Explosion—and recorded some 250 songs, many of them frank celebrations of their sex life, both raunchy and tender, with titles such as “A Jelly Behind Woman Blows My Mind,” “Lady, Your Breast, I Love to Caress(t),” “My Three-Feet Red-Hot Tongue Is Sweet as Sugar,” “Menopause Mama,” “Tight Blue Jeans Shows Your Thing,” and “America, We Are Sexy.” During these years, they also dabbled in politics, with Elton running for Congress and Betty for governor in 1986, and Elton for governor and Betty for the U.S. Senate in 1990.
In 1991, The Arsenio Hall Show aired a recording of the couple performing Elton’s “I’m in Love with Your Behind” in the aisles of Little Rock’s RAO Video. That same year, the couple moved to Venice Beach, California, where they began performing on the boardwalk as “The Married Couple” and launched a public-access television show, Husband and Wife Time. Their jubilant outlandishness led to television appearances on Sally Jessy Raphael, Maury Povich, and The Daily Show, as well as articles in periodicals such as Variety, LA Weekly, and the French Agence de Presse Photographique. The Philadelphia Inquirer said of Betty, “She’s 72, a former coworker of Bill Clinton’s, wears a beaded bikini, plays the ukulele, and freely offers advice on love, marriage and sex,” and of Elton, “He’s 41, a onetime NBA prospect, wears a Speedo stuffed with socks, plays a toy keyboard, and holds the umbrella they perform behind.”
Betty White died on August 20, 2003, at the age of seventy-six. Elton White continues to reside in the beachfront apartment the couple once shared on Venice Beach.
Elton and Betty White are the subject of a forthcoming documentary produced by Jerry Colburn and Donavan Suitt. While much of their music has become scarce, their album Hard Deep Sex Explosion is available on iTunes through Rural War Room Records.
For additional information:
Brockmeier, Kevin. “Elton & Betty White: Bouncing Back Like Basketballs.” Oxford American 63 (2008): 64–70.
Hill, Jack W. “Bicycling to the Big Time.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 8, 1995, p. 8E.
Leveritt, Mara. “Little Rock’s X-Rated Hit Parade.” Arkansas Times, October 1988, p. 22.
Scudder, James. “Downtown LR Couple Ejected During Gala. Asked to Leave Despite Tickets.” Arkansas Gazette, October 14, 1987, p. 13A.
Woestendiek, John. “An Act Too Big for Arkansas (Not the Clintons) Finds Mecca. The Married Couple Does All Together (Nearly in the Altogether, At Times)—And Dreams.” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 4, 1998, p. 3A.
Little Rock, Arkansas
They were very nice people and a fixture at Dunbar Community Center during the summer at the Summer League Basketball games. Elton was a good player during that time, and Betty always was there to support him, whether playing basketball or singing outside the gym. They are missed in the community.
I bought a homemade tape of theirs at the Record Exchange in North Little Rock back in the 1980s. My friends and I were their biggest fans. I have a copy of an “interview ” we filmed at the Albert Pike Hotel. Later, about 1991, after I moved to Jonesboro, my friend Joe Barrett and I hired them to play for our rugby team’s award banquet. It was their first professional gig, and it no doubt inspired them to achieve the fame that they did.
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