Thursday, December 3, 2015


One of the most mysterious musical stars of Hollywood's golden age was Vera-Ellen. After have a promising career in the 1940s and ealry 1950s, Vera pretty much withdrew from Hollywood in 1957. I was happy to find a great book on the elusive dancer called "Vera-Ellen: The Magic And The Mystery" by David Soren.

Vera-Ellen should have been one of Broadway and Hollywood’s most enduring stars. She was a fine dramatic and light comedic actress, and was considered by a number of authorities to be the greatest all-around dancer of her generation. And for a brief moment in 1950, she was an American household name, as famous as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio or General Douglas MacArthur. She could do tap, toe dancing, adagio, modern dance (formerly known as dramatic dancing), comic dancing, partnered dancing, prop dancing, Apache dancing and advanced acrobatics. She could also sing well enough to be featured on Broadway and television. Her obsessive perfectionism was legendary; nobody worked harder on a routine or accomplished it with greater attention to detail. Not only were each of her steps perfect but the transitions from step to step were flawless and remarkably beautiful to observe. Like Fred Astaire, who admired her, she had the ability to make each complex routine seem effortless, as if she were expressing herself spontaneously. Vera-Ellen's work in films such as On The Town, White Christmas, Words and Music, Three Little Words, The Belle of New York and Call Me Madame will never be forgotten by film musical fans. This much anticipated biography will not disappoint those fans.

Vera-Ellen was one of those dancer-actresses that never got a big break to make her a huge, big-name star. But she was a superb dancer who could do many styles of dance with ease; I imagine she could have easily been a winner on "So You Think You Can Dance" if she were alive today. Tap, ballet, jazz, partner dancing, acrobatics...she could do it all.

The author knew Vera-Ellen in her last years, so he had a rare insight into his subject. He goes into great detail about her childhood, her symbiotic relationship with her mother, her failed marriages. The most heartbreaking is reading about the loss of her baby girl who died of SIDS. She was never the same after that. The author also speculates about her eating disorders, which were never verified or documented, not by Vera-Ellen herself or any medical personnel. However, anorexia nervosa was not in the vocabulary during her time; eating disorders in women were simply referred as a "nervous condition."

I highly recommend this comprehensive, well-written biography of a lesser-known but extremely talented dancer-actress. I am grateful that this author documented her life, as she was a sweet, kind, selfless person well-worth remembering...



  1. Thanks for the tip! I love reading about my favorite Hollywood stars from the 40's and 50's and Vera-Ellen is right up there. I will add this to my Christmas wish list.

    Liz :)