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Bette Arnold collection of Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant materials

Collection MS-2012-009: Bette Arnold collection of Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant materials


  • Creation: circa 1960s-1980

Scope and Contents

The Bette Arnold collection of Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant materials consists of artifacts, artwork, audiovisual materials, clippings, photographs, and two scrapbooks. Artifacts include restaurant memorabilia, such as matchbooks and shirts, as well as Rolls Royce branded items, including playing cards and a toy car. Artwork consists of two charcoal portraits of Bette and her first husband, Chappie. Audiovisual materials consist of a LP record of one of Bette’s many singing performances at the restaurant, entitled Sunday Night at Bette’s, and a Sony Umatic videocassette entitled Here’s Bette. Playback devices may not be available for all media; please contact the Archivist for more information.

The clippings and the photograph series are small, though many more clippings and photos can be found in the scrapbooks compiled by Bette during the restaurant’s operation. The scrapbooks are unbound and contain a variety of documents including menus, recipes, fliers, caricatures, articles about Bette’s Rolls Royce, articles written by Bette regarding Boston society, and invitations to social events in Boston. Numerous objects, such as the license plate of the famous Rolls Royce, have been attached to scrapbook pages.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Audio recordings have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room. The video recordings on Umatic cassette are not available for playback due to format impermanence and can not be reformatted by Burns Library at this time. Please let Burns Library Public Services know of your specific interest; when it becomes possible we will schedule reformatting.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical / Historical

Bette Arnold was the proprietor of the popular Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant near Faneuil Hall in Boston. Born Bette Jeanne Berman on October 25, 1920, she first began her career in entertainment in her late teens as a singer in the Chappie Arnold Orchestra, a big band led by her first husband, which she helped manage. In 1941, she graduated from Simmons College where she majored in psychology and helped found the school of pre-professional studies. Bette and Chappie later started a bus company, and branched out into real estate before opening their famous restaurant in 1971. Bette was actively involved in the daily operation of her restaurant, and would entertain patrons on weekend evenings with her own renditions of popular songs. Bette’s Rolls Royce quickly became renowned for its flamboyant owner. Bette often illegally parked her yellow Rolls Royce outside of her restaurant, accumulating over five thousand dollars in parking fines. The car appeared, with Bette perched on the hood, in many city parades throughout the 1970s. Bette sold the restaurant in 1980 and retired to travel with her second husband, Robert Charles. She died in May of 2011.


"Bette Arnold, at 90; flamboyant owner of Bette's Rolls Royce." Boston Globe . (accessed September 28, 2011).

"Alumna Spotlight: Restaurant Business a Natural for Bette and her Rolls." Simmons College Bulletin. June 1971.


6.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes and 1 oversize item )

1.35 Gigabytes (2 files with approximately 0.75 hour of audio)

Language of Materials



The Bette Arnold collection of Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant materials consists of memorabilia related to the popular Bette’s Rolls Royce restaurant near Faneuil Hall in Boston. The collection, which dates from the late 1960s to 1980, contains artifacts, artwork, audiovisual material, clippings, photographs, and two scrapbooks.


This collection is arranged alphabetically in six series: I. Artifacts; II. Artwork; III. Audiovisual materials; IV. Clippings; V. Photographs; and VI. Scrapbooks.


Donated by Judith Cowin September 2011.



  • Personal family photographs and duplicate material.
Bette Arnold Collection of Bette's Rolls Royce Restaurant Materials
circa 1960s-1980s
Alexandra Bisio
September 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States