ASK MR. KNOW-IT-ALL: Who's behind these answers
July 28, 2013 2:50 AM

Question: Fifty years ago, I was barely a teenager and was working as a caddy at the local country club. My goal that summer was to buy a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses. Well, I got the glasses and loved them. I have owned many other pairs of Foster Grants over the years, but I still have my original ones in a safe place. Who is/was Foster Grant? — C.F.H., Fresno, Calif.

Answer: In 1919, Sam Foster and Bill Grant formed a company to make hair accessories in Leominster, Mass. As hairstyles changed, business started to fade, so they tried their hand at making a pair of plastic sunglasses. (At the time, sunglasses were not popular.)

In 1929, the company began manufacturing the tinted glasses and selling them at an F.W. Woolworth store on the famous Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. The glasses became popular with sun worshippers, and the style spread quickly. Before long, movie stars were wearing them to help disguise their identity. In 1965, the company found its slogan: “Who’s behind those Foster Grants?”

Question: Who is the lovely young English lady in the Orbit Gum commercial? — T.K.B., Peoria, Ill.

Answer: Until 2010, the star of the commercial was London-born Vanessa Lynn Branch. You may remember her from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. In 2010, she was replaced by the current Orbit Gum girl, actress Farris Patton. Patton has appeared in more than a dozen TV shows and movies.

Question: Ever since Katie Couric’s daytime talk show “Katie” has been on the air, she’s worn the same ring on her right ring finger. There must be a story behind it. Could you let us know? — F.N., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Answer: A diamond ring on a woman’s right hand is a symbol of female independence and freedom. A woman buys it herself to showcase her independence. I talked to a local jeweler who tells me the craze started in 2004 thanks to stars like Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Couric wears a Chanel sparkler on her right hand.

Question: My husband and I have been watching reruns of the TV series “The Virginian.” What can you tell us about the actors who played Judge Garth and Betsy Garth? — B. & D.C., Lavaca, Ark.

Answer: “The Virginian” was an incredibly popular Western airing from 1962-1971. The 90-minute show was set at the Shiloh Ranch in Wyoming Territory during the 1890s. Lee J. Cobb played the part of Judge Henry Garth in the first four seasons of the show. Cobb was born Leo Jacoby on Dec. 8, 1911, in New York City. He was a skilled violinist and harmonica player. He had an amazing acting career, both on screen and stage, appearing in “12 Angry Men,” “On the Waterfront” and “The Exorcist.”

He died of a heart attack on Feb. 11, 1976. The role of Judge Garth’s daughter, Betsy, was played by Roberta Shore, who was born April 7, 1943, in Monterey Park, Calif. At age 10, Shore began singing county-western songs in public with Tex Williams, who invited her to join his weekly TV show. She changed her stage name to Jymme Shore and joined “The Pinky Lee Show,” the No. 1-rated children’s television program, in 1954. Disney Studios hired her, but said her name was confusing, so she changed it back to Roberta.

Shore appeared in several Disney films and later recorded with Lawrence Welk. She appeared on numerous TV shows as well as in several films. Later in life, she and her third husband, actor Ron Frederickson, moved to Salt Lake City, and little has been heard of her since.


Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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