Vera-Ellen - a brief biography
Vera-Ellen was one of the best dancers to ever appear in musicals, an able and charming actress who could match and even outdance many of the leading men of the '40's and '50's. Sadly, her fame has faded, and few know of her. Such obscurity is not deserving for her talent and beauty. I created this web page as a tribute to her.
Vera-Ellen (Westmyer) Rohe was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 16, 1921. Many sources say she was born in 1926, but it has been proven that 1921 was the real date.
She began dancing for health reasons at the age of 10. During her early career, she appeared in nightclub acts, as one of the youngest Rockettes, and a Broadway dancer.
Her movie career began in 1945, when she appeared with Danny Kaye in "Wonder Man". She was known as "Twinkletoes", and I've read very few mean words said against her. She appeared in many movies, almost all of them musicals, until the late 1950's.
Vera-Ellen was married twice: once to fellow dancer Robert Hightower, and once to millionaire Victor Rothschild. Both marriages ended in divorce.
She "dated" Rock Hudson over a period of three years. This romance was really a publicity event, devised by Rock's agent. Rumour has it that Rock really wanted to marry Vera-Ellen, but that can't be verified. It does appear that they were definitely good friends who enjoyed each other's company.
The reason for her disappearance from the movies is complicated and under debate. Vera-Ellen became alarmingly thin in her thirties. Her peculiar eating habits are well documented. Always a reclusive person, she started to withdraw from Hollywood as her alleged anorexia took its toll on her. This was also during a time when Hollywood simply stopped making many musicals. Although Vera-Ellen could act as well as dance, MGM didn't take her talents seriously enough to give her many non-dancing parts. She made appearances on TV and in Las Vegas for a few years before finally retiring.
One side effect of anorexia is rapid aging. Many people have asked why Vera-Ellen always covers her neck in "White Christmas" - while rumour has it that her neck was aging, reliable sources state that it was a fashion choice, and her neck was as beautiful as the rest of her.
She also had a daughter, Victoria Ellen Rothschild, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Understandably, this was a very traumatic event, and helps to understand why she withdrew from public life.
It should be stated that while Vera-Ellen did definitely age, as she dropped out of sight, she aged with grace. Her friend Bill Dennington supplied personal photos, which show a rare and treasured look at how beautiful and spirited she remained.
Sadly, Vera-Ellen died in Los Angeles, Calfornia, on August 30, 1981.