Friday, December 7, 2018

THE LAST DAYS OF VERA-ELLEN

With the internet, I get a lot of spam and junk email. I nearly deleted an email I got from an address I didn't recognize. However, I read it, and it was from someone who had read one of my stories about the great Vera-Ellen. It was more than just a fan, it was a nurse that took care of Vera while the dancer was a patient at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center when Vera-Ellen died on August 30, 1981. I was still skeptical at this email, but I called the medical center and verified this nurse worked there. She did not want me to publish her name, even though she retired from the hospital in 2002. She got to know Vera-Ellen briefly...



QUESTION: Many people say Vera-Ellen was a recluse in her final years, so people have no clue what Vera-Ellen was like when she got older. What was she like when you knew her?

NURSE: I didn't meet Vera until she was diagnosed with cancer a few months before she died. She was quiet and petite, and she had the most beautiful eyes


QUESTION: There has been rumors that Vera-Ellen suffered from anorexia. Do you know if there is any truth of this?

NURSE: When I was assigned to be her nurse, I got to look at her file. At the time, around 1981, she was not suffering from anorexia, but her medical history did mention she suffered from anorexia when she was younger.



QUESTION: How was Vera during her final days?

NURSE: I was on vacation when Vera died so I did not see her on her final days. However, the other nurses say she died peacefully in her sleep. She was highly sedated on her final days, but she was a very sweet and kind woman.


QUESTION: Did Vera ever talk about her days in Hollywood?

NURSE: If you would not know who she was, you would never have known she was a Hollywood star or even in the movies. The only thing that she got in the hospital was a bouquet of flowers from a Fred. We later learned they were from Fred Astaire.


QUESTION: What do you remember most about Vera?

NURSE: What I remember most is she seemed a little sad. However, no matter how bad she was feeling, to the end she would ask how I was and what was going on in my life? I have had a few other famous people as my patients, but Vera-Ellen was the nicest and sweetest...







14 comments:

  1. This was lovely to read. I loved her in the movies. She was a very accomplished dancer and a joy to watch.

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  2. I'm glad the nurse, and you, shared this information with us. Something about Vera-Ellen, even on the screen, makes her seem like a darling girl.

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  3. A good read. Thanks to all concerned. Vera Ellen was a beautiful lady and a terrific dancer. Died much young.

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  4. I was really touched by the story regarding Fred Astaire and the bouquet of flowers. He was a real mensch. In Yiddish that means a real human being. The meaning goes much deeper than that and it is impossible to translate it into English. Even if you coukd, it would not fully describe either Vera-Allen or Fred Astaire.

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  5. I love the holidays and its not complete w/o White Christmas and Vera's fabulous dancing. It is sad she died so young but she'll never be forgotten.

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  6. It is very sad that she died probably alone at the end. Of all her success and being such a famous dancer, and the end she only got a bouquet of flowers from Fred Astaire. She will be forever in my heart because she gave such joy to me in all her musicals which I must have seen a hundred times, but my favourite is White Christmas which I watch all the time and she puts a smile on my face every time. She will never be forgotten as she lives on in the movies!!

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  7. It is very sad that she died probably alone at the end. Of all her success and being such a famous dancer, and the end she only got a bouquet of flowers from Fred Astaire. She will be forever in my heart because she gave such joy to me in all her musicals which I must have seen a hundred times, but my favourite is White Christmas which I watch all the time and she puts a smile on my face every time. She will never be forgotten as she lives on in the movies!!

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  8. I loved Vera-Ellen but as a nurse I'm shocked and disturbed that her nurse disclosed confidential medical history in your interview. This is a violation of patient's rights and trust and it's not really not okay to disclose OR to post it.

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    1. I think that after 38 years it is probably okay to disclose info. I think for the most part what the nurse said today is pretty much common knowledge if you dig deep enough.

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  9. No children? No h7sband or ex that would choose to spend all the time they could with her before she is gone? Her tiny beautiful self with fame and money was apparently missing the most riches, family who adores you.

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    1. Her only child died at three months old due to SIDS and traumatized her for the rest of her life. Have some sympathy and don’t be rude. Life does not always work out perfectly for everyone.

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  10. Cynthia (Cindy) ScottJanuary 27, 2021 at 4:25 PM

    Vera Ellen was one of my favorite stars, she always reminded me she was as sweet in real life as she was in her movies, I have watched White Christmas every year since it first came out. Thank you for doing this article. It will mean so much to so many.

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  11. One of my all time favorite movies, White Christmas. A must watch every year during the Christmas holiday. I loved watching Ms. Allen dance in that movie. What a beautiful lady. My son took me to see White Christmas for the first time on the big screen a couple of years ago in Chicago. It was wonderful and enjoyed it so much. So sad to read she passed away at such a young age with no one by her side. I will never forget her and always watch the famous 'White Christmas' every year I am still on this earth.

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  12. She was very popular with the publicity photo crowd. She has some excellent still publicity photos in circulation. She photographed well and must have enjoyed the sucess she had during the late 40's and early 50's.

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