Vera-Ellen a popular actress and dancer during the 1940’s and 50’s

 

“I was called a bookish child. Mother sent me to a ballet teacher in Cincinnati when I was nine years old. I guess I was an awkward child and the family wanted me to be graceful. When I found out I liked to dance and people seemed to like to watch me, I was determined to go places.” ~ Vera Ellen

 

Vera-Ellen

Vera-Ellen was an American actress and dancer mostly remembered for her filmed dance partnerships with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, and Donald O’Connor. Vera Ellen was born Vera Ellen Westmeier Rohe on February 16, 1921 in Norwood, Ohio to Martin Rohe and Alma Catherine Westmeier. She began dancing at age ten and at age sixteen she was a winner on the “Major Bowes Amateur Hour” and soon embarked upon a professional career. In 1939, at age 18, Vera-Ellen made her Broadway theatre debut in the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical “Very Warm for May” and she became one of the youngest Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. This led to roles on Broadway in “Panama Hattie”, “By Jupiter”, and “A Connecticut Yankee”, where she was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn, who cast her in her film debut opposite Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in “Wonder Man” (1945). She danced with Gene Kelly in the Hollywood musicals “Words and Music” (1948) and “On the Town” (1949), while also appearing in the last Marx Brothers film, “Love Happy” (1949). Vera-Ellen received top billing alongside Fred Astaire in the MGM musicals, “Three Little Words” (1950) and “The Belle of New York” (1952). She had a co-starring role with Donald O’Connor and Ethel Merman in “Call Me Madam” (1953) for 20th Century-Fox, and with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney in Paramount’s blockbuster hit, “White Christmas” (1954). Vera-Ellen’s last film was “Let’s Be Happy” (1957) with Tony Martin. Guest appearances on the television variety shows of Dinah Shore and Perry Como in 1958 and 1959 were among the last of her entertainment career.

 

Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen, Bing Crosby in “White Christmas” (1954)

 

Vera-Ellen was married twice. Her first husband was fellow dancer, Robert Hightower from 1941 to 1946. Her second husband was millionaire Victor Rothschild. They were married from 1954 to 1966. Both marriages ended in divorce. While married to Rothschild, she gave birth to a daughter, Victoria Ellen Rothschild, who died at three months of age from SIDS in 1963. Following the death of her only child, she withdrew completely from public life.

 

Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Red Skelton have fun with Red’s lunch on set of “Three Little Words”(1950)

 

Vera-Ellen died of cancer on August 31, 1981 in Los Angeles, California. She was sixty years old.

 

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2 Responses to “Vera-Ellen a popular actress and dancer during the 1940’s and 50’s”

  1. […] Vera-Ellen (February 16, 1921 – August 30, 1981) dancer and actress remembered for her lithe figure and animated performances with partners Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, and Donald O’Connor. She is one of the few actresses to have danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in the movies, other actresses that have also done this includes Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Debbie Reynolds, and Leslie Caron. Vera-Ellen is best known for her starring roles in “On the Town” (1949) with Gene Kelly and the 1954 blockbuster “White Christmas” with Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, and Rosemary Clooney. Vera-Ellen’s other movies include “Words and Music” (1948), “Three Little Words” (1950), “The Belle of New York” (1952), “Call Me Madam” (1953), and “Big Leaguer” (1953). […]

  2. […] Written by George Wells Music by André Previn and Harry Ruby Starring Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen, Arlene Dahl, Gloria DeHaven, Debbie Reynolds, Keenan Wynn, Gale Robbins, Phil Regan, Carlton […]

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