Getting to Know Vera-Ellen:
- Vera-Ellen (an only child )was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1921.
- Her nickname was “Bunny.”
- Vera was painfully shy as a child and, by nine, had developed health problems.
Went to the same Cincinnati ballroom dance studio as a child as Doris Day. Their parents even carpooled together to the dance studio.
- When asked about causing a sensation when she wore a form-fitting gold lame sheath to the Oscars in 1958, Vera-Ellen perfectly replied, “Why not? It’s the way Oscar dresses.”
She was a Radio City Rockette (and one of the youngest) but was fired after two weeks because she showed too much individuality on stage.
- The beautiful star silently battled anorexia before doctors even understood the condition, let alone how to treat it.
- Vera-Ellen co-starred with Donald O’Connor in Call Me Madam (1953). One of her all-time personal favorite dances was in this film. She and the wonderful O’Connor danced to “Something to Dance About,” choreographed by the renowned Robert Alton.
- When studios (sadly) began making fewer musicals (in the 1950s), Vera-Ellen began to fade from the public eye.
One of the few actresses to have danced with both Fred Astaire AND Gene Kelly onscreen. Other actresses that are in this exclusive little club include Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Debbie Reynolds, and Leslie Caron.
Fred Astaire said about her, “She was a real accomplished dancer, that girl. Ballet, tap dancing, anything you wanted to do.“
- During the filming of White Christmas, the costumes were made to cover Vera-Ellen’s neck because, due to anorexia, it appeared much older than her face.
- Once said, “Fred Astaire will never say, though he’s always asked, which of his dancing ladies was his favorite partner. If you ask me, he preferred the solo turns.”
- The beloved classic White Christmas (1954) is the movie Vera-Ellen is most remembered for. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney were her costars in this iconic Christmas film.
Vera-Ellen apparently was a bit of a bookworm as a child! In her own words, “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.”
- She enjoys a lasting legacy as one of Hollywood’s finest dancing stars from Musicals’ cherished glory days.