Does the name Vera-Ellen ring a bell? She was a prolific American actress, singer, and dancer who garnered fame during the 1950s following her exceptional dance performances in musicals. She is best remembered for her role in musical films such as On the Town (1949) and White Christmas (1954). Asides movies, Vera also appeared in several Broadway productions. Learn more about the actress/dancer below.
Vera-Ellen – Biography
The American dancer was born as Vera-Ellen Westmeier Rohe on the 16th of February 1921 to Martin Rohe and his wife, Alma Catherine Westmeier. Her father was a piano dealer while there is no news of her mother’s occupation. When asked about her hyphenated name, the dancer disclosed that before she was born, her mother had a dream in which she had a daughter named Vera-Ellen.
At a very young, she developed an interest in performing arts, precisely dancing. This led her parents to enroll her for a dance class at Hessler Studio. Amazingly, at the age of ten, she was already a proficient dancer. Notably, she and Doris Day were co-students while at the dance studio. While there, she performed in different shows including stage performances and Broadway productions.
When she turned 18, Vera-Ellen made her first Broadway appearance in the 1939 musical, Very Warm for May. At the time, she was the youngest dancer for the American dance company, Rockettes and she was also a regular performer at the Radio City Music Hall. She went on to score more roles in other Broadway productions including A Connecticut Yankee, Panama Hattie and By Jupiter. During one of her performances, Vera was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn who would later cast her opposite Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in his 1945 film titled Wonder Man.
1946 saw the actress appear in two films – The Kid from Brooklyn as Susie Sullivan and Three Little Girls in Blue as Myra Charters. Two years later, she portrayed the role of Maggie Phillips in the musical comedy film, Love Happy and Ivy Smith in On the Town.
Her other notable films include Three Little Words (1950), Happy Go Lovely (1951), The Belle of New York (1952), Call Me Madam (1953), Big Leaguer (1953), and White Christmas (1954). Her last screen appearance was in Let’s Be Happy in 1957.
Height, Waist-line, And Body Measurements
Vera-Ellen was undeniably beautiful; however, she was also notable for her thin neck and tiny waist-line. Many had said that she suffered from anorexia, an eating disorder characterized by low body weight and thin appearance; nevertheless, the speculations were not confirmed. The actress/dancer stood at a height of 5 feet 4 inches and weighed 48 kg (105 lbs). Her body measurements were given as bust – 35 inches, waist-line – 23 inches, and hips – 35 inches. Ellen wore a dress of size 4 (US) and a shoe of size 6 (US).
Other Interesting Facts About The Dancer
Her Husband And Children
Vera-Ellen was married twice in her lifetime, unfortunately, both marriages ended in divorce. Her first marriage was to Robert Hightower, a fellow dancer. The couple got hitched in 1941 and was together for five years before calling it quits in 1946. They didn’t have any kids from their union.
Soon after their divorce, Ellen found love again, this time in the arms of a millionaire, Victor Rothschild. The dancer tied the knot with Victor in 1954 and they had one child named Victoria Ellen, born in 1963. Sadly, Victoria died from sudden infant death syndrome three months after her birth. A few years later, Ellen’s relationship with Victor began to deteriorate, hence leading to a divorce in 1966.
In her prime, Vera-Ellen appeared in over 30 films as well as Broadway productions. She made a fortune from her dancing career, acting career, and other endeavours. While her net worth before her death is not known, it is believed that she was worth millions of dollars.
Cause of Death
In the latter part of her life, after the loss of her baby Victoria Ellen in 1963, the actress decided to stay away from the limelight. Hence, she retired from acting and started living a solitary life, far away from the prying eyes of the media. While her fans were curious to know what had happened to her, it was later discovered that she was suffering from ovarian cancer. In her last days, Vera-Ellen was admitted to The University of California Los Angeles Medical Center where she passed away on the 30th day of August 1981. Her remains where buried at the Glen Haven Memorial Park located in Sylmar, California.