Wednesday, December 6, 2017

FINAL RESTING PLACES: VERA-ELLEN

Vera-Ellen is best remembered for her role of 'Judy Haynes' in the movie, "White Christmas" (1954), playing opposite fellow actors Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. Born Vera-Ellen Westmeyer Rohe in Norwood, Ohio, she began dancing at the age of ten, and within a few years, became one of the youngest Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and a Broadway dancer.

In 1945, she was spotted by film producer Samuel Goldwyn and invited to Hollywood, where she was cast opposite Danny Kaye in "Wonder Man" (1945). There she earned a reputation as a hard worker. She would also dance with Gene Kelly in "On the Town" (1949) and with Fred Astaire in "Three Little Words" (1950). 


She married twice, first to fellow actor and dancer Robert Hightower (1945 to 1948) and then to millionaire Victor Rothschild (1954 to 1966); both marriages ended in divorce. She would also date Rock Hudson for three years, but this was a publicity event orchestrated by his agent, yet they remained good friends for years after. After her success in "White Christmas", the motion picture industry decided to make fewer musicals, and it did not consider her for non-dancing roles. To keep her weight down, Vera-Ellen also became anorexic, which caused premature aging, and expressed itself mostly in her upper body and neck (this eventually came out as the explaination as to why she always covered her neck in "White Christmas"). 

In addition, her only child and daughter, Victoria Ellen Rothschild, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1963. Her last film, "Let's Be Happy", was made in 1957, and she then retired from public life. She continued to dance, in part to fight the arthritis she suffered later from. She would die of cancer in Los Angeles, California. Author David Soren wrote a book, "Vera-Ellen: the Magic and the Mystery," about her life; it was published by McGraw-Hill Press.

Her mother, Alma Catherine Westmeier Rohe died a year before Vera did in 1980 at the age of 89. Her 2nd husband remarried after their divorce. Victor Bennett Rothschild died in 2008 at the age of 85. Vera-Ellen is buried in a modest grave at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California...




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