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Betty Lou Bredemus
Born (1934-08-13)August 13, 1934
Died February 19, 2015(2015-02-19) (aged 80)
Occupation Acting coach
Walter Grady Roberts
(m. 1955; div. 1972)

Michael Motes
(m. 1972; div. 1983)
Children Julia Roberts
Eric Roberts
Lisa Roberts Gillan
Nancy Motes (deceased)
Relatives Emma Roberts (granddaughter)

Betty Lou Bredemus (August 13, 1934 – February 19, 2015) was an American actress and acting coach. The matriarch of the Roberts family, which includes Academy Award-winning actress Julia Roberts, Academy Award-nominated actor Eric Roberts, and granddaughter Emma Roberts, she also served in the United States Air Force and received a National Defense Service Medal for her service, which was spent entertaining the troops in Air Force base theatrical productions.

Early life and education

Betty Lou Bredemus was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Wendell John Bredemus (1904-1955), a football player, and Elizabeth Ellen (née Billingsley).


Bredemus met her husband Walter Grady Roberts (1933-1977) while performing in the play George Washington Slept Here together, which was directed by Rance Howard, father of director Ron Howard. Howard and his wife Jean, Roberts and Bredemus became close friends, and decided to tour to a couple of USO bases performing plays. Bredemus and Roberts were married in 1955, and soon after their first child was born, actor Eric Roberts, in April 1956.

After the army, Walter decided to pursue a career as a playwright, so he moved the family to Louisiana so he could attend Tulane University. The family lived on campus in family housing. Walter left school just shy of graduating, and he moved the family to Decatur, Georgia in 1960. Bredemus soon began working at Emory University in the public relations area, while Walter worked in various theatrical jobs.

In 1965, Bredemus and Roberts created a children's show for the local network titled Bum Bum and His Buddies. In the first episode, Bredemus played the role of Bum Bum the clown. Betty and Walter had previously created a short-lived series titled Creole Capers. After 15 episodes of Buddies, Bredemus and Roberts moved on to create the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop, teaching classes to youth ages five to eighteen. Also in 1965 Bredemus gave birth to their daughter Lisa. The workshop became a huge success and popular among the children of Atlanta.

Among the children that enrolled were the children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta. Their eldest daughter Yolanda King took acting classes taught by Walter. In 1967, their daughter Julia Roberts was born. Bredemus' pregnancy caused commotion within the workshop community as she temporarily had to stop performing the various tasks needed to put on a show. When Julia was born Betty and Walter were experiencing financial difficulty, and Coretta Scott King offered to pay the hospital bill. The King children were taking classes at the workshop when their father was assassinated.

The workshop eventually closed, and Roberts and Bredemus divorced in 1972. She married Michael Motes and gave birth to their daughter, Nancy, in 1976. Motes was abusive and often unemployed. In 1983, Bredemus divorced Motes, citing cruelty and stating that marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. She went back to using her maiden name of Bredemus.

Later life and death

Bredemus encouraged her children's acting careers through the 1980s and 1990s but largely stayed out of the limelight. Her daughter Nancy Motes died on February 9, 2014 at age 37.

Bredemus died on February 19, 2015, in Los Angeles after a battle with lung cancer. She was 80 years old, and is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

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