2. Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, who famously played sisters in White Christmas, both grew up near Cincinnati. Vera-Ellen was raised in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood, Ohio (making her a “Norwooder” as the locals say). Rosemary was from Maysville, Kentucky, located about an hour southeast of Cincy.
3. As a teenager in the 1930s, she won as one of the weekly performers on the national radio program Major Bowes Amateur Hour. She subsequently toured New York theaters, dancing for $50 a week. (Major Bowes Amateur Hour eventually moved to television and evolved into the classic Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour.)
|On the set of White Christmas.|
5. Although Vera-Ellen only made 14 films, she was paired with all the famous Hollywood dancers of her day: Fred Astaire (Three Little Words; The Belle of New York); Gene Kelly (On the Town); Donald O’Connor (Call Me Madam); and Danny Kaye (White Christmas and others). Her singing voice was usually dubbed (including her numbers in White Christmas).
6. She retired from performing at age 38 after appearing on television in The Dinah Shore Show in 1959. While married to her second husband, millionaire Victor Rothschild, Vera-Ellen gave birth to her only child in 1963. Sadly, daughter Victoria Ellen died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
7. After her divorce from Rothschild in 1966, Vera-Ellen kept a very low public profile. She allegedly gave a couple of interviews, one in the late 1970s and one shortly before her death. Vera-Ellen Westmeier Rohe died at age 60 in 1981 from ovarian cancer. Reference her famous name, she explained in an interview: “When Mother was expecting me, she had a dream that she would have a baby girl named Vera-Ellen. She even saw the hyphen in her dream. And so, though Daddy didn’t like it, that became my name.”