Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the daughter of a railroad foreman, Percy E. Thornburg (1896–1937) and his wife, Mabel Lum (1901–1967). While she was very young, her father abandoned the family for another woman. They did not hear of him again until they received a telegram in 1937, informing them of his suicide. Along with her older sister Marion, Betty was raised by her alcoholic mother, who took the surname Hutton and was later billed as the actress Sissy Jones.