Betty Van

Photo of Betty Van

Vocalist Betty Van began her career singing on Los Angeles radio station KHJ at age 17. When she graduated from high school, she toured with Kenny Baker’s orchestra before being invited to join Benny Goodman in mid-1937. She remained with the band only a few months, replaced by Martha Tilton in October. After leaving Goodman, she sang on the nightclub circuit.

In 1939, Van was with Vito Musso’s orchestra. When Musso, a former Goodman saxophonist, turned his band over to Johnny “Scat” Davis in mid-1939, Van remained, but in October Davis decided to change gears from swing to sweet music, and both she and Musso left. Musso formed a new band with Van as vocalist.

In summer 1940, Van sang with Sonny Dunham. Later that year she was with Charles Dant’s NBC orchestra, leaving for a year and then returning in November 1941. In April 1942, Van joined Jack Teagarden’s band, touring with them before retiring to marry a fellow with the last name of Guzzardi.[1]

After her marriage, Van initially settled in the Los Angeles area but later moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where her husband’s career took her and their four children. The family later moved to Guatemala before returning to California. Betty Van passed away in 2005 at the age of 86.


  1. Guzzardi’s first name is not mentioned in any records. ↩︎


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  • Afraid to Dream
    Benny Goodman (Betty Van), Victor (1937)

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  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. Guzzardi, Joe. “My Mom: A Life of Grace, Dignity.” Lodi News-Sentinel [Lodi, CA] 8 May 2004.: 4.
  3. Zolotow, Maurice. “Night Club Reviews: Club Tivoli, Juarez, Mexico.” Billboard 11 Dec 1937: 22.
  4. Cohen, Joe. “Night Clubs-Vaudeville: Fox, Philadelphia.” Billboard 17 Jun 1939: 23.
  5. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 29 Jul 1939: 17.
  6. “Vido Musso--Johnny Davis Split Their Band Partnership.” Down Beat 1 Oct 1940: 1.
  7. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 28 Oct 1939: 18.
  8. Rickey, Gene. “Kenny Baker Can't Miss.” Down Beat 1 Jun 1940: 18.
  9. Hyltone, David. “Sonny Dunham Band Shaping Up.” Down Beat 1 Jul 1940: 6.
  10. “Sonny Dunham Saves a Life.” Down Beat 1 Aug 1940: 13.
  11. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 29 Nov 1941: 11.
  12. Untitled article. Down Beat 15 Apr 1942: 37.
  13. “Stars to Shine at Nat Park Opening.” The Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA] 13 May 1942: 5.
  14. “United States, Social Security Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT), 1936-2007,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2023), Betty Van.