Filled Under: Eleanore Whitney
Eleanore Whitney was a film and Broadway actress and dancer who had a brief career in Hollywood during the mid to late 1930s.
Eleanore Whitney was born Eleanor Wittenbergon on April 12, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA to Abraham and Anna Wittenburg. Eleanore’s mother Anna was the sister of Adolph Zukor, who was already a wealthy businessman and would later become the founder of Paramount and a powerful figure in old Hollywood. When Whitney was ten years old she met Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson backstage at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland. Robinson was so taken by Whitney’s dancing that he took to giving her lessons whenever he was in the city. Later he offered to teach her each day during a two month stay in New York and was instrumental in the start of her career. As a student of Robinson’s, Whitney landed roles in several Broadway productions. Whitney also appeared in vaudeville with Jack Benny and Rudy Vallee before going to Hollywood in 1935. During her brief career in Hollywood, Whitney appeared in several comedies and musicals for Paramount Studios such as “Rose Bowl” (1936), “Three Cheers for Love” (1936), “Timothy’s Quest” (1936), and “Campus Confessions” (1938) which co-starred Betty Grable in her first starring role. Never having reached A-status as an actress with Paramount, the then twenty-one year old Eleanore Whitney retired from Hollywood in 1939 after marrying former U.S. assistant Attorney Frederick Backer. They couple lived in Manhattan and had one daughter together, Nancy Anne Backer, born in 1941. Whitney would continue to dance for fun, sometimes giving dancing lessons, and in 1946 would play Lucille Jourdain in “The Would-be Gentleman” on Broadway. Whitney and Backer would remain married until his death in 1971. Whitney did not remarry after the death of her husband and lived the rest of her life in New York City. Eleanore Whitney died November, 1983 in New York City, New York.