will continually remind you that Lee was successively: Miss San Francisco,
Miss California and Miss America. And though most know Lee as "Betty"
in the highly successful CBS series, "Barnaby Jones," where
she co-starred opposite Buddy Ebsen for eight years, and was nominated
for both the Golden Globe and the Emmy, for her work on that show,
Lee has had starring or recurring roles in no less than nine different
series, ranging from the first women's editor with Dave Garroway on
the original "Today Show," on NBC to her three year run
as Lily on "The Munsters Today" for Universal. Some of Lee's
successful series include: "Time Tunnel," "The New
Andy Griffith Show," "Mission: Impossible," "The
F.B.I.", "12 O'Clock High", and "Dr. Kildare".
born in Los Angeles and shortly after her brother Don was born three
years later, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. As she was about
to enter the fifth grade, her father was transferred to San Francisco.
Her memories of childhood are happy ones. She had the usual teenage
frustrations but was encouraged to pursue acting while attending George
Washington High School along with another young and talented student
that fame would touch --- Johnny Mathis. Johnny fondly remembers Lee
as the girl he never saw without her hair in rollers.
the pageant titles while attending City College of San Francisco as
a Radio and TV/Theatre Arts major. She had been nominated by a fraternity
there. "I never would have entered on my own" Everyone,
especially Lee, was shocked when she won. Ironically, she almost didn't
make it to Atlantic City. A short time before the competition, her
father passed away, and she felt as though "the whole world had
dropped out from under me." Thank Heavens for Mom who reminded
her of the lost scholarships and her father's personal excitement
over the pageant and his eagerness for her participation. The rest
is history. Lee's mother has remained a very important part of her
life. As she says, "I have always looked to her for guidance
and support and she has always given it unselfishly. Heavens, she
practically raised my daughters while I was doing Barnaby Jones."
her year's reign as Miss America, Lee joined "The Today Show."
This experience afforded her the opportunity to use her pageant scholarships
to study acting with the famed teacher Lee Strasburg, as well as dancing,
singing, and fencing with some of the top coaches in New York. Lee's
beginnings in the entertainment industry include her first TV role
-- "The Philco Television Playhouse", with Mary Astor, her
first Motion picture lead -- "The 4-D Man", with Robert
Lansing, and her first professional stage appearance -- "Hatful
of Rain", with William Smithers and Lou Antonio.
films roles include Catwoman in the original "Batman" movie.
She also portrayed Andy Griffith's pregnant wife in "Angel in
my Pocket", as well as Rock Hudson's southern wife in "The
Undefeated". Lee "swam" with "Namu, The Killer
Whale" and has a great deal of fun in reminding film buffs that
she played the "man" killed by Kim Novak in "The Legend
of Lylah Clare."
theatre, however, continues to be Lee's first love. Attesting to that
fact is her long association with Theatre West, a professional actors'
workshop in Hollywood. Of the countless appearances she made at T.W.,
three stand out in her memory: "Spoon River Anthology" with
Betty Garrett, "Aesop in Central Park" with Richard Dreyfuss
and "Ladies of Hanover Towers" with Carroll O'Connor.
of her recent national stage credits include: the female version of
"The Odd Couple", (two productions), "Last Summer at
Blue Fish Cove", for which she received the Drama Logue Award
for Best Actress as well as the San Francisco Critics Award. "The
Business of Murder", with Van Johnson, Sondheim's "Follies",
with seven former Miss Americas, a national tour with Anthony Zerbe
and Roy Dotrice of "Country Matters" (Sex and Shakespeare!)
and most recently productions of the musicals "Hello Dolly",
"Mame", "The King and I", with George Chakiris
and "I Do, I Do", "Pirates of Penzance" and a
tour of the play "Plaza Suite" with her husband Marshall
Lee met Marshall in San Antonio where they both starred in a production of "Angel Street" ("Gaslight"). When, over the next few years, they found themselves appearing together in "Lion in Winter" and "Alone Together", they decided that working side by side was simply not enough. So, in San Francisco, while performing in one of Marshall's plays "The Artful Lodgers", they tied the knot. In "Lodgers" they both got to "chew some scenery."
Lee as a drunken floozie and Marshall as a 150 year old flighty ghost sporting a large moustache, smoking a cigar and wearing an Erte gown! She must really love this man for as she says, "There he was, looking better in a dress than I do and I still wanted to marry him!" This year they will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary on stage together Co-Hosting the Ms. Senior America Pageant on Television for the second year.
Lee also loves working with her daughters, Kyle and Lesley Aletter. Kyle appeared with her mother in "The Gingerbread Lady" and Lesley stunt doubled for her in the television travel show "It's a Wonderful World". Both daughters swung high over the center ring with their mom in the "Circus of the Stars", and all have done commercials together. Obviously, Lee is happiest around family, whether it's at work or play.
The future looks to be quite busy for the Borden household. Marshall is busy writing two plays, the novelization of his movie script of "The Artful Lodgers", a television series proposal and an opera! While Lee is waiting patiently for one of the two plays in which she will have the starring role, she is enjoying one of the most difficult acting jobs of her career. Reading John Saul's gothic thrillers, "Second Child", "Shadows", "Guardian", "Black Lightning", the serialized "Blackstone Chronicles" and "The Presence" the last 4 under Random House Audio Publishing. Playing all the roles!! Lee has found she has voices within her she never knew existed!! These voices are coming in handy in another new role for Lee. That of Grandma!! Kyle and her husband Rory Oldham gave birth to daughter Ryan Isabelle on Dec. 30, 1993. And Grandma Lee is always available and eager to baby sit. If she can get her away from Auntie Lesley, that is.
Even when she's on stage or in front of a camera, (or playing with Ryan) Lee can always be counted on to have several other activities going on simultaneously. She is active with a number of humanitarian endeavors and charities. She has served as Honorary Chairman of the Crippled Children's Society and is permanent Chairman of their major annual benefit, "The World's Greatest Working Truck Show". She is an honorary member of Women in Show Business, a Philanthropic organization that funds reconstructive surgery for needy children and has twice been named their "Angel of the Year". She has also served as National Education Chairman of the American Cancer Society and as the Los Angeles Chairman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. There is also a special place in her heart for the Blind Children's Center. Lee has long been associated with animal rights groups and is deeply involved with "Actors and Others for Animals".