Betty Sturm, acclaimed for her role in the iconic 1962 film “The World’s Greatest Sinner,” sadly passed away on Sunday at 89 years old. Her son William Winckler reported that she died peacefully and was surrounded by family due to Alzheimer’s disease at her residence in New Jersey. The movie stars renowned character actor Timothy Carey who wrote, directed, and produced it as well as having a soundtrack composed by Frank Zappa making it an enduring cult classic that is hardly ever publicly screened.
Despite her lack of enthusiasm for acting, Sturm found herself in show business during the late 1950s when she relocated to Hollywood. She resided at Mary Pickford’s private dormitory designed specifically for budding young actresses – the Hollywood Studio Club. During this period of time, Sturm developed relationships with renowned figures such as Jo Anne Worley from “Laugh-In” fame, Pat Priest from “The Munsters” and Kim Novak.
Sturm embodied the role of Clarence Hilliard’s beloved companion and admirer, who metamorphoses into an oppressive God. Initially enthused about her part in this production, after a long year-long filming schedule and financial difficulties with the crew, she decided not to return for one last scene. A silent extra had to stand in for Sturm during a musical sequence as they played the saxophone.
Raised in the vibrant culture of Spain and Germany, Sturm moved to Hollywood during the late ’50s. During her time there, she said she went on a date with none other than Elvis Presley! The couples watched Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological thriller “Psycho” at an outdoor movie theater for their night out. She remarked that everyone walked out of the theater during the controversial shower scene due to the singer “couldn’t stand the sight of onscreen blood.” She fondly recalled the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” as “a wonderful, perfect gentleman.”
In 1962, Sturm tied the knot with her former entertainment attorney Robert Winckler. This man was a child star in the comedy genre “Little Rascals/Our Gang” from 1936 until 1938.
During the early 1970s, Sturm kept herself busy in show business by creating and selling custom wigs and hairpieces for park characters at Disneyland, as well as actors appearing in Disney Studios movies. She even supplied a few animatronic pirates on the “The Pirates of the Caribbean” ride! Additionally, she sold her unique creations to renowned stars such as Dusty Springfield and Sally Field. Jumping into the ’90s, Elizabeth Sturm made a radical career change. She opened up her own talent agency and began booking actors for popular projects such as commercials, films, and even “Married with Children.” Her business ran for several years before she finally decided to retire from it all.
Sturm and Winckler were devoted to each other until his passing in 1989, after which she decided not to remarry. Her son is a well-known producer, director and novelist while her daughter Patricia Tousignant and son-in-law Jim Tousignant have blessed her with two grandchildren: Michelle and Robert.
As the curtain falls on Betty Sturm’s career, a new era of film and entertainment is ushered in. Her mastery of multiple roles as an actress, wig supplier, and talent agent demonstrated her deep-seated commitment to show business. We will forever remember all she contributed to this creative world that she so dearly cherished for such a long time.