Of Typos and Monkees … 1951

nesmith2The lady pictured left was born Bette Clair McMurray in Dallas, Texas on March 23, 1924.
She married a Warren Nesmith at the age of nineteeen and worked as a secretary. While her husband was away on service during World War 11, she gave birth to a son, Michael Nesmith, who would later become a singer/guitarist for the band The Monkees.

After her husband returned from the war, the couple divorced, and Bette found herself a single mother, left to raise her son alone. She hadn’t really wanted to be a secretary as she was much more interested in art. In her free time she dabbled in painting and drawing. She was very good at her job though and by 1951 she was working as an executive secretary for the chairman of the board of Texas Bank & Trust.

liquidpaperAt that time electric typewriters were becoming increasingly popular. Secretaries using them often made mistakes they found difficult to erase.
Bette knew that artists often simply painted over their mistakes so she thought that the same could be done to cover mistakes made in typewritten ink.
During 1951 she came up with a very simple formula.Using her kitchen blender she mixed up some tempera water-based paint and tinted it to match her company stationery.She took it to the office and whenever she made a mistake on paper she simply painted over it with a small brush.
Her boss didn’t even notice the corrected errors in her work. The other secretaries asked Bette if they could try some of the solution as well, so she began making up bottles putting labels on them that read ‘Mistake Out’ .
It proved to be very popular and in 1956 she started the Mistake Out Company from her home, mixing the fluid in her kitchen and employing her son and his friends to fill bottles for customers. She patented the product and renamed it ‘Liquid Paper’.
She was selling about 100 bottles a month. In 1957 General Electric placed a large order. By 1967, Liquid Paper was a million-dollar enterprise.

evt091115234800036In 1968 Bette opened a new plant with 20 employees and sold 1 million bottles. In 1975 she opened a 35,000 square-foot headquarters building for Liquid Paper in Dallas. The following year the company’s net earnings were $1.5 million and the product had worldwide sales. In 1979 she sold the company for $47.5 million. Sadly she died the following year.


Bette pictured with her son Michael … a very young Monkee!

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