Friday, December 21, 2012

VERA-ELLEN: THE LATER YEARS

There are many dancers during the golden age of the Hollywood musical who are remembered like Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller. However, no other dancer had the girl next door look more than Vera-Ellen. During her heyday she appeared with such icons as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Bing Crosby, but after those golden years ended in the 1950s, her later years are pretty much shrouded in mystery.

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" - it is assumed that her neck is where she started to visibly age. 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. She would divorce her second husband, Victor Rothschild a few years later in 1966. He died in 2008 at the age of 85. 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 the following personal photos, which supply a rare and treasured look at how beautiful and spirited she remained:


Though retired from professional work, Vera-Ellen continued to take dancing lessons, partly to combat the arthritis she suffered later. Vera-Ellen died of cancer in Los Angeles, California, on August 30, 1981 at the age of 60. She was a recluse shut off from the rest of Hollywood, and her fans who continue to love and cherish her memory some thirty plus years after her death...


203 comments:

  1. Thanks for gently filling in these details of a lovely dancer and actress, whose growing number of fans rediscovering her is a tribute to her talent.

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    1. One big error in the article: Vera Ellen did not die in 2008 at age 85. She died on August 30, 1981 of cancer, at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 60.

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    2. Robert, please reread the article. Her ex husband died in 2008 at the age of 85. Not Vera.

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    3. Well said David. people should read properly.

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    4. David, thank you for putting Robert in his place. I stand with Jason on this when I say, fuck off Robert.

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    5. I totally agree with Classic Betty. There were a lot of slender, yet shapely female entertainers that were pitifully skinny like Vera was. Her kcostume hung on her and her skinniness detracted from her performance

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    6. to all who further the MISGUIDED issue of her weight:

      1] NOT pitifully slender!
      2] anatomical perfection ENHANCED her legendary, athletic, graceful, energetic dancing
      3] how can you not SEE her muscular curves!
      4a] costumes were designed to expose her BEST FEATURE - her LEGS.
      4b] if costumes revealed her LOVELY NECK [search vera ellen images] it would detract from her lovely sweet face!
      5] hope her survivors have the strength to know that too many people and comments are sensationalistic and to take to heart only the comments of rational people, who see her as a stunning legendary talent.

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    7. I was born in the baby boomer generation...White Christmas is and will always be my favorite movie...the reason I love it so much is VERA ELLEN..back then weight was very important to celebrities....and especially athletes and dancers....she was of a slightly shorter than average height and a brilliantly beautiful dancer of all versions of dance....you can't be that brilliant without many hours and years of practice....which keeps your figure toned and slender....she may have appeared more slender in person because it is said the camera adds pounds...but on film and camera she looks like a totally toned and perfectly proportioned beautiful lady..... I would have loved to have met her....so all those that want to spread rumors or think badly of those great actors,singers and dancers...just remember that is when real movies were great and an inspiration to the whole family... not like we are watching today....quit hating and give them their props....

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    8. Way to go Debbie. Like you I was a Baby-Boomer and White Christmas is a movie I have to watch year after year every Christmas. Vera was the star of that movie as far as I was concerned and she shined brightly as a star of a past that can be remembered as the "Best of A Bygone Era". She was and is Beautiful.

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    9. As an old timer of 81 years, I see Vera Ellen as a beautiful woman, talented in dance and acting, who gave happiness to the world through her movies I remember the movie "Three Little Words". Back then in 1950, she became embedded on my mind, and has remained that way. Many times through the years, I had wondered what happened to her. Today, I watched the movie on TV which brought back many happy memories. She still gives happiness and love to me, and I'm sure, Others. During those years there were many, many excellent actors, and actresses. Today there are but few that achieve that quality. To those who love Vera Ellen, I walk with you. Beauty and talent as she had should be remembered and the memories she has left should live forever.

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  2. It never occurred to me that Vera Ellen was anorexic -- I just always thought she was very thin, but now that I read this, it makes sense. When she danced "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" with Gene Kelly, she was very slender, but compared to "White Christmas" a few years later, she had become extremely thin. As much as I loved her in the "Choreography" number, I always thought her legs and thighs in that outfit looked just awful. Poor thing. Thanks for helping us understand her better.

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    1. She looked fabulous! Her legs were gorgeous. I don't know what fat mirror you must be looking in, but Vera-Allen was adorable.

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    2. Beautiful. Love her dancing, her acting, sad to hear she was only 60 when she passed. Thank you Vera Ellen for all you shared <3.

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    3. I always thought she was extremely thin as well. In "White Christmas" she looked strong and healthy, and at the same time as fragile as a baby bunny. Strange combination.

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    4. I know right?

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    5. I'm watching it right and she is painfully thin in that choreography number. You don't need a 'fat mirror' to see it - you can simply look at the other female dancers in the scene who all have normal-sized legs! And you just wonder if that bustle thing on her costume is to try to make her look a little bigger/wider. She is adorable but it's sad to see. I love this movie but my sister is anorexic and it's painful to see someone so lovely and with so much talent who also succumbed to this terrible disease.

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    6. I BEG YOUR PARDON!! There was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AWFUL About Vera's Legs! Nor ANY Other part of her! She was absolutely GORGEOUS! AND, A SPECTACULAR Dancer AND, a TERRIFIC Actress! Don't but into all that Horrible Hollywood Gossip! OK, She was thin BUT, she was in absolutely Terrific Shape! She EXERCISED regularly! She was Physically Fit! I am ALWAYS moved when I watch her dance in those Awesome outfits! WOWZA! Absolutely Gorgeous Woman! It IS a shame what those assholes at the studios did to these poor gals! But, there was NOTHING wrong with Mz. Vera!!! Love Always! Respect Too!

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    7. An argument could be made that the first Barbie Doll was patterned after her build and looks. One quick look and you will see it.

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    8. Beautiful woman tiny waist and all. Most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

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    9. I thought that too (Barbie doll personified)! I saw her as toned...and beautiful!!

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    10. A gorgeous woman whom I greatly admire!

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    11. I agree! I saw her in white Christmas as a little girl, and thought she had the most beautiful barbie doll legs I'd ever seen!!! Now that I'm 57 years old...I KNOW those are the most perfect legs I've still ever seen! I never get tired of watching her dance, and showing off her fabulous legs and body! All you fat chicks just be jelly. I know women who have bigger calves than my waist! YUK!

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    12. As a recovering anorexic woman, I had no doubt from the first time I saw Vera Ellen that she was almost certainly anorexic. It's in her face and arms. The easiest spot to see the difference between healthy active thin and anorexic is the shoulders/neck area. The protrusion of the shoulder bones is impossible to hide. Her lovely but very thin thighs also lends credence to the likelihood that she silently battled this deadly disease. Dancers are at a much higher risk as are actresses. She was a lovely actress and dancer, and is a joy to watch. It is sad that so many of us who suffer from eating disorders are not able to get help or support, and thus battle the unknown alone. We are learning much about EDs, but public misconceptions are still rampant as you can see here. Before making statements about EDs, please know of what you speak. Read. Ask. Challenge careless statements about body weight and image. This disease strangles our lives out of us bit by bit, and affects every aspect of health and life.

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    13. No one here is really arguing that she is cute but anorexia is a disease. A mental inability to consume food regardless of whether you want to physically destroys you from the inside out. And to minimize such a debilitating disease to its effects on outward appearance is to reduce the appreciation of the physical and mental toll it takes on those suffering from it. She can still be beautiful but if you can't appreciate the suffering that anorexia must have caused her, you are being selfish and are part of the reason so much stigma exists around mental disorders

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    14. I wondered if I was the only one who thought she looked a bit scary-thin in "White Christmas." I was amazed at her dancing and scared she was going to collapse from exhaustion at the same time. And her thighs did look a bit emaciated. I know many people idolize an unhealthy barbie doll thinness (which is is an unrealistic and unhealthy human proportion), but as far as medical standards go, that is not healthy. Not an insult to the late great Vera Ellen, just a medical fact. If it were healthy, then we wouldn't be talking about her anorexia later in life.

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  3. A fabulous dancer and a beauty too!

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  4. A fabulous dancer and a beautiful actress

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  5. If everything I read is true,I wish we knew then what we know now.I watched White Xmas and I was amazed of her talent.the best I have ever seen.

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    1. I am not into dancing too much, but I watch "MANDY" once a week. Simply awesome.

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  6. When I was around 7-8yrs old I remember my grandmother introducing me to the classic movies...the musicals (Gene, Judy, Fred, Anne, Donald, Rosemary and Vera). I instantly fell in love and played every trick, told every lie I could just to be with my Grandma to watch the amazing dancing that uplifted me and made me want desperately to be a part of that world. I was first introduced to Vera in "Three Little Words", then "White Christmas" and "On The Town". I was hooked, and fell instantly in love (ok! It was a 7yo's 'Boy Crush') with her smile, warmness she brought through the tv screen, and her dancing...oh! Those legs. Vera lit up a room with every entrance, like she did in every scene on the big screen. She may have had the dance partners she had, within the movies. But, we can be so honored and blessed to know that every time we find ourselves dancing, Vera is right there with us. Partners upon the dancefloor of our dreams. Thank-you Vera! You are loved and never forgotten. (Derek Fellows, Toronto Canada)

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    1. Sadly, I feel Vera-Ellen s marriage to a high calibre illuminati-freemasonry family as the Rothschilds brought her alot of curses. Anorexia is a "Spirit" that dominates the person and arthiritis is another attack from the devil.Her reclusive nature is also tied into Freemasonry covering of always being secretive. May she rest in peace. Always a great pleasure to see her on film.(Australian fan and Evangelical Christian)"Have faith In God"(MARK 11:22)

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    2. I disagree with your opinion that arthritis is "…another attack from the devil." I have severe and debilitating osteoarthritis, among several other painful medically/diagnostic proven disabilities that were caused by a hit-and-run, drunk driver (who was driving illegally, without the U.S.A. driver license nor the legally required automobile insurance) - while walking to the Christian Church that I have attended for my entire life. I have been living with the results of another person's poor judgment for more than 34 years. I have forgiven the person who used poor judgment and continued to perform my work, with the same company for these years despite the physical pain. Please remember that it's easy to judge on the basis of a news article, but requires wisdom to admit what we do not know. I believe that Jesus Christ can teach us more about compassion and keeping an open mind and heart than the devil.

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    3. I had to look up Vera-Ellen as I have always wondered why I haven't seen her in more movies of the Golden Era. Her talent is absolutely amazing. She just flows like water across the dance floor. I meant to add this to the previous comment with the Free Masons. Just hit the wrong button at the wrong time. Sorry.

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    4. What a lovely Talent, she had But way too thin I guess that was Hollywood, But as Most dancers have problems Hip joints ect, it comes to us all..Always wonderful to watch this lady Act and Dance Amen to God who gave us Talent as Her !

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    5. I too fell in love with Vera at a very early age and I don't know if it has ever gone away. She had a rare talent both as a dancer and as an actress. I have watched "White Christmas" today and it all came back. Such a pity that she retired from public life at such an early age and her early death. I really don't understand the reference to Freemasonry

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    6. I agree completely with you. What a rare talent! She lights up the screen in every movie. Her dance sequences in White Christmas ate off the charts. I am obssessed! My theory in covering her neck - style!

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    7. Her legs are amazing...like mine..slim...
      Sad she died too soon...
      An angel from God...
      She had fame and every
      Christmas SHE SHINES FOREVER

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    8. If only more women had this much class nowdays .she's absolutely perfect.

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  7. Absolutely love her in white Christmas and must admit its tragic to hear what happened to her. God bless and what a loss

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  8. I disagree Classic Becky. I thought she was beautiful in White Christmas. Marvelously slim and beautiful. Her legs were magnificent. She was not anorexic at all, she danced for hours a day and was very much in shape. All women wish they had a figure like Vera's. It's too bad that our food is so bad nowadays that women have to vilify other women who are in shape and healthy as being anorexic and too skinny. Vera was marvelously sexy. Go lose weight and stop criticizing sexy slim women.

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    1. She was anorexic... It is fact. Nonetheless that does not by any means discredit what and incredibly beautiful talent she was!! Also, the previous poster wasn't attacking Vera-Ellen; just said she felt sad for her life. She had some rough and sad times, and I've known people and have suffered with eating disorder in the past too... It is a terrible thing to suffer.. It is sad that she went through that and I wish she would have continued performing. She is a treasure, a real jewel! Just because people say a fact doesn't mean they don't admire or respect her. When I read about what she went through with that and other personal things I felt sad for her, too. From what I have seen and read, she was an amazing person and an extremely beautiful woman and performer. Rip vera-Ellen! I wish today's "stars" were at least half a talented as she was!

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    2. She was not anorexic!!!!! Definately not.That was David Soren's belief and wrote in his book and was not true. I knew her very well (i am the man in the pictures above). I feel terrible when people say things that are not true. .......Bill Dennington

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    3. Bill,
      I would love to write an article to set the record straight because nearly all the articles on Vera-Ellen talk about anorexia. Please contact me if you would like me to publish something to set the record straight.

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    4. You are horribly off based. Only women who are lured in by the disgustingly thin frames that Hollywood seems push for would think otherwise. She was sick and her frame showed it. She had the build of a 12 year boy from an illness.Unhealthy and ill. Go tell more girls that a pumpkin head on top of a stick figure is healthy. Ugh

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    5. May I ask, Bill, that you set the record straight on Vera? Her spirit and effervescent style made dancing and movies a joy to watch. Would love to know what happened to her--and admire her no what. Sounds like she had some tragic times--hope she had some fun, friends and family to the end. She is much respected and beloved by those who have re-discovered the classics!

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    6. Bill Dennington...thank you so much for supplying the pictures above. She's always been one of my favorite dancers. Now, my daughters marvel at her skills when they watch "White Christmas." Maybe gone but definitely not forgotten. Sincerely, Nora Burnham

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    7. Agree with you 100% .. Women are the worst for slagging off women.. I myself am a dancer and when I was doing a big show in the west end a few years back I got penalised as being too thin but toned... Little did folk know I was rehearsing up to 8 hours a day and was the most fit any women could be whilst eating like a horse because I had too.. Pasta, rice, pasta, rice, protein.. I could eat what I want... That's the life of a professional dancer, no rest for the wicked.. Women please support other women.. We'rest he worst to bring each other down... Sisterhood where fore art tho...

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    8. thank you all, with whom i share your love, respect and awe for vera-ellen! i too will always remember vera as a grand dancer - poised and expressive, athletic yet graceful. i had always thought she had The. Best. Legs. i also love the depth, honey-like and surprisingly robust quality in her voice - which held its own beside that of wonderful rosemary. i have loved vera since i got hooked on white christmas when i was 10, watched it recently and will be watching tomorrow again! a sweet soul, a rare and beautiful treasure. to all of her survivors - much love forever.

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    9. Vera-Ellen did not actually sing any of the songs for the movie. Rosemary Clooney sang both parts for "Sisters," while Trudy Stevens sang the rest. Vera's own voice is heard singing only in the "arrival in Pine Tree" scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises the opening lines of "Snow".

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    10. actually Anonymous the article and other articles says she was suffering from anorexia. Her "peculiar" eating habits are well documented. You should read some articles on her. No one is vilifying her...but it is entirely possible that she suffered from anorexia....just like other women do and have. I agree that our food is bad for us now...its all the additives and preservatives and stuff...

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    11. My thoughts also. Beautiful figure. Lovely face.
      I so miss the milk and honey figure in a woman. They seem to have topped-out in the early 70's.
      I think the natural flow of things were changed with the Women's-lib movement in the 60's. The marketing of "Big Is Beautiful" gave the green light to slacking on diet. sad

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    12. I am 5'7" was always approx 125-130 pounds. I have never been on a 'diet' and ate anything and anytime I liked. Thankfully I liked healthy foods. When my husband became ill and died I went down to 90 lbs forcing myself to maintain my eating for my health and well being as my children didn't need to lose another parent. It was simply shock and stress that caused the weight loss. Overtime I gained it all back.
      Point is; I was constantly accused of dieting, Always called skinny etc.Just because someone 'says' Vera Ellen suffered from Anorexia doesn't make it so. I know other thin women who have been labelled 'Anorexic' just because they are naturally thin and that red-eyed monster known as jealousy comes in to play.Vera could have been suffering from extreme stress in 1953/54. Rosemary Clooney stated in an interview that Vera was always practicing and stretching between takes. That she was such a professional and a lot of fun. Reports of Vera being a recluse just because she chose to have an ordinary life after Hollywood is rather silly. Anytime a star from the Golden Age moved away from Hollywood media labelled them a recluse just to wring out an unverified story. Perfect example is Doris Day. She is the busiest out and about ' supposed 'recluse' around!!

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    13. Constant exercise is one of the characteristics of an eating disorder. Yes, the lady was a wonderful an overlooked dancer. And yes, some people are naturally slender. But usually their proportions are in keeping with that natural tendency. Vera-Ellen's waist size was that of a child's, while her head, hands and feet were those of an average-sized woman. Unless any of her friends were with her 24/7, none can know for sure what she ate and if she kept it down since bulimia often accompanies anorexia. Of course, none of us can either. But to those who throw out the tired "you other women are just jealous" saw, give it a rest. Most of us want to be healthy and work at it. But we don't find extreme thinness attractive and wonder about men who do.

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    14. Ugh .Are you kidding me? Her legs near the top look awful.It's a horrible disease.I knew right away she had anorexia.There is a certain look.You start to see their ligaments.I had a family member get it and it was scary.

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    15. Ah, well, maybe this comes as a surprise, but to the current American population the rest of the world must look like having annorexia. Never saw so may fat people in one nation. Thanks to the enormous meat consumption I guess....? Next comes Spain, for fat women, by the way.

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    16. She was beautiful and one of the best dancers on screen,,her legs alone were worth allot ,,love her always will ,

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    17. i read she did not smoke until she was older she became a chain smoker and also drinker she died of lung cancer i think drinking was do to the loss of her child i might have read this in a bio book

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    18. Holy cow, just because someone acknowledges that someone else may or may not have had anorexia does not mean they are jealous! What a conceited mind-set. And anorexia is nothing to be ashamed of if she did have it, it's an illness. I don't know whether she had it or not, and I don't think it really matters so long after the fact.

      The important thing is she was a very lovely, beautiful, talented woman who was a pleasure to watch and had many fans. And I think that is how she would want to be remembered, not for whether or not she had an eating disorder.

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    19. Extremely gifted dancer and actress. Beautiful. Mental health and outside pressures, unknown. As an ex dancer myself, in White Christmas, I am watching at this mo, anorexic. Seen it many times. Legacy

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    20. Vera's mother had bizarre opinions about food, what to eat, not eat, and when. These food habits were instilled in Vera since her childhood. In her earlier films, she weighed much more, and the studio was on her to lose weight, especially in her thighs. Dancing builds muscle, and the studio felt her thighs were too large. Read her highly detailed biography for much info on her eating habits and strive for dance perfection

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    21. I am 4' 11", had Anorexia from 13 until 36, had lots of Therapy hospital ten years off and on. Relapsing often. Can spot a look in face. She doesn't have the look! She danced a lot, is possible was just thin. Really who cares! She was talented and beautiful, Hollywood Is over rated now, over paid losers, not many like her. The only weird thing is the white Christmas cloths, maybe, she had a skin thing going on? I hate to think of her having Anorexia, it is a NIGHTMARE, causes so many medical problems. Usually lose hair/eyebrows, she still had! I will admit I had a waist so small I looked like a little girl, when your short and starve it's easier to cover up, people just think your cute and little. I wasn't diagnosed until 25/When Karen Carpenter died. Look at pictures of her, Vera Ellen, looked nothing like that, but, again, Karen was tall and big boned! For my ending I will say, we should not care as she would want us to remember her beauty and talent!

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  9. I agree with Classic Becky. She was always thin but she looked healthy in movies like On The Town (1949). She almost looked painfully thin in White Christmas (1954).

    Also, this blog is open for all comments - but please keep personal attacks out of here.

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    1. David, I'm a dancer and have been a fan of Vera-Ellen for nearly half a century. She was a tiny woman with a tiny frame. In the dining car scene in White Christmas, she orders a malted and every time I hear her say that, I think, "have two malteds!." Even as a teen-ager in the 70's, I was both awestruck (and still am) by her immense talents, but also concerned for her well-being. After seeing her in other films, like "On the Town" which I also loved her in, I realized that something was up with her weight. She was certainly very slender in her younger years, but now, it appeared that something was just not quite right as even in White Christmas, her weight seems to drop off with each successive scene in the film. Since her face was naturally round, she still appeared healthy from the neck up and she was absolutely stunningly beautiful in that film. I would be very interested in reading your article if you have some other information about her. Maybe it wasn't anorexia. It's possible that she had a metabolic disorder or some other malady.

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    2. One correction -- Her beautiful face was not round. It was oval/heart shaped, which is the most desirable shaped face to have.

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  10. Pretty nasty, Anonymous, when all I said (without hiding my identity) was that I felt bad that she seemed unhealthy. Thank you, David, for reminding folks about the meanness of personal attacks -- I love Vera, always have, and did not say or intend anything critical about her.

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    1. ClassicBecky, I understand what you meant, Unfortunately some people always look for the worst meaning. They get hung up on sending critizem. I think you feel as I, that is. what she has given to the world in memories and happiness outweighs any of the comments from the selfish, who have nothing to say, but negative words. Becky, I walk with you. Vera Ellen was a beautiful, talented, dancer, actress, and singer.

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  11. In "White Christmas" and all of her films, she had exactly the athletic, low-fat physique that is normal for a professional dancer. Her legs were long, muscular, and beautiful. As for the myth of her neck, quite a few photographs of her are available on Google Images, and she is wearing low-necked blouses in several of them. Her neck looks perfectly normal. In her final movie, "Let's Be Happy" (1957), she wears a blouse that leaves her entire neck completely visible, and it's obvious that there's nothing wrong with it.

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  12. I love Vera Ellen and can't help but notice the similarities of her shape, looks, hairstyle, etc which look exactly like the original Barbie doll. I just read about the woman who invented Barbie and can't help but think that she was not honest about who she designed the doll after because I think it was Vera. Vera played in White Christmas in 1954 and Barbie debuted in 1959 so the timeline fits. Anyone else see the resemblance besides me?

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    1. YES! ABSOLUTELY! The very first time I saw White Christmas I thought that, and still have the 1961 Barbie doll, that gave me that idea! SO, I'm not crazy! ;-) Marie

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    2. I just watched some of this movie tonight and thought she looked like a vintage Barbie

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    3. never would have thought of that, but - yes! no simple similarity. rather - uncanny!

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    4. Yes, she would have been the perfect model for Barbie. What grace, beauty, charm & talent! She brought such joy to the screen. She was lovely and left us way too soon. May she rest in peace. Thankful for the gifts she shared with the world.

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  13. Yes, I am watching WHITE CHRISTMAS tonight and was amazed at how TINY her waist was! I didn't ever know she was anorexic. She was a great dancer and I am very sad that her life was not happy.

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    1. Anon 5:56- just because someone wrote in a book that Vera was Anorexic doesn't make it true. In fact just the opposite. We are often too eager to believe stories unverified out of sympathy or other more cruel emotions. Then add-ons like 'peculiar eating habits' and it takes on a life of its own.
      I've heard the most ridiculous untrue stories about myself just because I'm naturally slim. Women especially can be so cruel to other women.

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    2. I am also very thin due to some health issues. She probably was dressed in costumes that covered her arms, chest, neck to hide the protruding bones on her chest, the thinness of her arms and as for the neck, just a variation on fashion. I have to do the same thing.

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  14. There is a reason that I ended up on this page. I just finished watching White Christmas & I was enamored with Ms. Vera-Allen. She was extremely talented in both dancing & acting, not to mention a stunningly beautiful woman. I don't know about anorexia or not, but she left an everlasting impression on me & I am sure many others.

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    1. so perfectly put. i feel the same.

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    2. Same for me David, what a beautiful talented lady.

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  15. Simply stunning and talented! Long before my time. A shame she didn't do more but at least she survived Hollywood.

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  16. She was thin but look at Fred Astaires body. Both very thin, both dancers that take dancing very serious. Do people speculate him as anorexic! Anyone that dances even if just on a friday night knows how much energy it takes and calories it burns. Imagine doing that for hours every day.

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  17. I don't know if she was anorexic or not but look at Fred Astaires body. Both are dancers that take dancing very serious. Anyone that dances even if just on a Friday night know how much energy it takes imagine doing that for several hours daily. I have never hreard anyone claim he was anorexic.

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  18. I looked her up on the net and it says she had anorexia...In White Christmas her thighs were the same size as her calf.

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  19. Vera Ellen was a marvelous dancer and White Christmas shows that talent off magnificently. She did, however, have the smallest waist I have ever seen on a human being! Scarlett O'Hara would have been envious.

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  20. I have been reading a lot about the beautiful Vera-Ellen and one thing is heavy on my heart...did she die alone? There are really no mentions of having family members around her. I noticed her gravestone was so plain and simple. What became of her estate??

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  21. Just saw her in THREE LITTLE WORDS with Fred Astaire. What a talent. I always thought Cyd Charise was Fred's best partner until I saw her dance, OMG! Funny that I looked at my wife's 1952 Barbie and it is a double for Vera_Ellen.

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    1. I have just watched her with Danny Kaye in Wonder Man, and her dance routine just blew me away.

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  22. Just now finished watching my DVD movie of White Christmas. I had not seen that movie in over 20 years and bought it the other day to watch again. Vera-Ellen I thought was a wonderful actress who had grace and beauty and one of the best woman dancers I have ever seen, that is why I came on the internet to read about her life. Again such a wonderful and beautiful actress and best female dancer of all time.

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    1. I watched it again last night and realized that she was a far better dancer than Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Juliet Prowse, or anyone I have ever seen. I also agree with other posters about the Barbie doll looking exactly like her. I thought that while watching the movie. Even the face is similar. I envy the figure she had. She does not look too thin or anorexic in White Christmas like some are saying.

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  23. What type of cancer did she die from?

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  24. White Christmas on TV right now. My favorite Christmas movie since I was a little girl. Always amazed by Vera Ellen's dancing and beauty. My fav is "Mandy", does anyone know if the live productions of White Christmas include Mandy? I think her body is incredible!

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    1. The stage production does not have "Mandy". I've seen it twice (different years) in Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theater, and honestly was extremely disappointed at the changes from the film to the musical. I don't understand taking out songs in a musical as beloved as "White Christmas" only to add more songs... The additional Irving Berlin songs are good (all well known songs), but leave the original ones in. "Abraham" is also missing (of course, I realize that no one could ever dance that songs as well as John Brascia and Vera Ellen).

      -Melissa in Seattle (only posting as anonymous because I don't have an account)

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  25. Hi Lori,
    I saw White Christmas when it came to my town and I do not think "Mandy" was in it. They had a lot of different numbers in it - all Irving Berlin songs. One of the standouts was "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy". (Sally Struthers appeared as the general's made and Stacey Keach was the general in the production I saw).

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  26. two words "Exercise Anorexia"
    a real medical condition

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  27. That wink in White Christmas is as sexy as any as I've seen.

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    1. In so true it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen from any woman in my entire life and I am over 80 years old next week which will be August 30th the date Vera became an angel I am going to visit her grave site in Sylmar California

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  28. So much talent and beauty, we have been watching White Christmas every year since I can remember....and it always make me so sad to think Vera-Ellen has left us along with all the other wonderful actors and actresses of White Christmas ...but what a beautiful woman she was and still is to so many who have the chance to watch her do what she's done best ....make our hearts warmer with life and energy .....

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  29. I was born in 1951 and received some of the first Barbies for Christmases in the late 1950's. My 5 daughters and I became big fans of White Christmas and they are the ones that noticed how Vera Ellen looked like the vintage Barbie Dolls. My two youngest girls (now 23 and 25) became known among family and friends for singing "Sisters". They still get Barbies for Christmas but their favorites were the ones dressed in different blue dresses similar to the ones in White Christmas. That movie gives me the most Christmasey feeling ever! I always watch it on June 25th--halfway from last Christmas and halfway to the upcoming Christmas. I love to watch Vera--her dancing is as easy for her as breathing is for me.

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  30. joyce from michiganDecember 29, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    I have always been fascinated with Ms. Ellen, she is such a spirited dancer. As I watched White Christmas (as I do every year) I note that her costume in "Mandy" is padded from the waist down instead of being form fitted. I assume this is because she did not have enough shape/curve in the hips. I also believe that she wore padding to fill in her bustline, and that's why she could not wear anything low cut. I saw this with great respect for her, she was exquisite and mesmerizing to watch.

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  31. Thank You so very much David Lobosco and Bill Dennington... I have loved so many of the 'Classic' entertainers. I had hoped to find that Vera had descendants and was saddened to hear of her loss of her daughter. I think she was a bright and shining star and seemed a gentle soul. Sharing my love of old movies with my Granddaughter brings me great joy... Vera is and will continue to be remembered and well loved.
    Angel Wings

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  32. Beautiful, energetic, love of performing shown through the camera lens. White Christmas is watched several times a year in this household. It was a staple for my family when I was a kid 40+ years ago when it came on network TV once a year. I enjoy it as much now as I did then.

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  33. There's a picture of Vera as a presenter at the Academy Awards the year after White Christmas was released. Her neck is smooth and lovely. The high necked costumers in White Christmas were merely a design chose.

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  34. Whether or not she was anorexic is irrelevant ,but if she was then a trauma such as losing her baby can trigger such an illness and there is no reason to vilify her for that.
    She was a beautiful and highly talented lady.

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    1. Why would she be vilified for having an eating disorder? It's a medical condition. There are people on here acting as if having an eating disorder is a horrible crime that that Vera-Ellen should be defended against. She was very thin in White Christmas and those high neck dresses stood out next to the low-cut dresses that Rosemary Clooney wore. There were a few scenes where she was a leotard with a scarf. It was so odd that I had to go online during the movie and find out why she was so obviously hiding her neck. It looks like she's also hiding her neck in the photos provided for this article by her friend....

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  35. No way to tell for sure if she was anorexic or not, but she was lovely, a fantastic dancer, and had possibly the finest legs in cinema history, even better than Cyd Charisse's.

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  36. I too am interested in what type of cancer she died from. I have always loved watching Vera Ellen. She was just fabulous and so beautiful and graceful. With all the dancing she did, I am sure she was too tired to eat right and that led to maybe a lack of appetite but if her friend said she was not anorexic, then I believe him.

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  37. Her last movie was "Let's Be Happy" with Tony Martin. The movie was made in 1957 and you can clearly see in several of the costumes that her neck was smooth, beautiful and unlined. She was such a talented woman, what they call now a triple threat; for she could sing, act, and dance. How tragic was the 1963 death of her daughter - certainly a good reason to withdraw from public life. We are fortunate to have her grace, beauty and talent preserved forever on film.

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  38. The Barbie doll was not designed after Vera Ellen or any other movie star. The original "Barbie" was a German doll known as "Bild Lilli" and was inspired by a racy German cartoon. Ruth Handler of Mattell saw the doll and bought the rights to produce it in America. She renamed it "Barbie" after her own daughter. There were almost no changes made from Bild Lilli to the first version of Barbie, so any resemblance to Vera Ellen is coincidental.
    Vera Ellen was not unusually thin for a small-framed female professional dancer of her calibre. As far as the neck covering, give me a break! It was the '50s. Neck scarves were stylish. Her clothing was beautifully designed to flatter her slender frame and act as a counterpoint to the relatively buxom figure of Rose Marie, who also looked gorgeous, but in a completely different style.
    The fact is that it's not just "talent" that gets a woman (or man) to that level of success- it's hard work, self denial, sacrifice, & self-discipline, such as continuing to practice even when your feet are literally bleeding. I find it ridiculous that a woman can work as hard as she did to achieve excellence in her field, and yet 3 decades after her death people are talking like she couldn't have done it without anorexia. Was she anorexic? I have no idea. Could she have been that slender and not have been anorexic? Absolutely.

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  39. My mother immigrated here from Holland and for obvious reasons took a liking to Vera. So much so I was named after her. People often ask, if I am named after a family member, because it is old name. I just say, no, I am named after Vera Ellen. Vera

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  40. My sisters and I grew up watching Vera Ellen along with all the other fabulous actors in White Christmas. Each year we would wait with baited breath and watch the entire movie without blinking. Vera was a phenomenal dancer and I am glad to find out I can watch her in other productions as well. To be honest, her thinness does not seem natural in this movie and it was always a point of discussion. I hope that she did not suffer from anorexia in her 30's. It may well have been from over working. Watch Dancing with the Stars and see how much weight those dancers loose from the begining of the season to the end. I am sad to hear of the loss of her child and later divorce. I hope that she was surrounded with loving friends all her life.
    The love and admiration of her fans is a special thing. Her legacy lives on.

    Posted by Stacey, I am not a member.

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  41. I saw Vera-Ellen dance in both Wonderman and White Christmas recently. What an enormous and vibrant talent - along with all her co-stars in those films. I'm a huge Danny Kaye fan, and when I saw her dance in Wonderman she just left you absolutely amazed. Her energy and ability made you not take your eyes off her. When she danced, she was in a world of her own - seemed like a nice place. All I can say is: thank you Vera-Ellen! I know it's not much, but it's all I got.

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    1. you are spot on. She was the most talented artists ever! I wonder if she had thyroid problems and had to have surgery. That would explain the weight loss and high necklines.

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  42. Vera-Ellen was the most talented and most beautiful female dancer in Hollywood. I developed a crush on her the first time I saw "On The Town". It's a shame MGM dubbed in another singers voice in her movies. She had a very pretty voice. I heard her sing for herself in a You Tube clip from the old Ray Bolger TV show. She sang and danced delightfully in a rather long number. It was live TV back then so the number was not done in takes ... and she was terrific! Vera-Ellen was definitely the best!

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  43. I thought she was the cutest lady in the film White Christmas! Loved her in it too!

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  44. Vera-Ellen was not anorexic. According to the biography of her "Vera-Ellen the Magic and Mystery her apparent weight loss in "White Christmas was due to her grueling rehearsal that at times even made her feet bleed. Vera-Ellen like Fred Astaire were perfectionists when it came to their art of dancing. Edith Head the Paramount costume designer had to keep taking her costumes in due to this weight loss from rehearsals. She ate a diet that included a great deal of red meat mostly steak because at the time it was thought that it built muscle. There is a newsreel from 1954 of Judy Garlands "A Star is Born" premiere and Vera is wearing a strapless dress that shows her neck and her neck is smooth and unwrinkled the reason she wore the high necklines was due to she thought her neck looked too long in the films shots of here and wanted to disguise what she thought a figure flaw. You can find the newsreel of "A Star is Born" on Youtube.

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    1. It could be that they were doing all they could to make her look younger than Rosemary (mother hen) since she was actually older and she was supposed to be her baby sister. I know at that time it was considered bad taste or improper for younger women to wear "sexy" clothing. Gosh, I remember having to wear hats and gloves. Point is that we all who comment here loved her, sick or not.

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  45. I fall in love with Vera-Ellen every time I watch "White Christmas" She was so beautiful, a great actress and fabulous dancer with the greatest legs ever! Wish I could've met and known her; she was the best; my fantasy love!

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  46. 100% in agreement. i am an 'UNLIKER' of rumors ['anorexic this, depressed that'...] she was beautiful, a breathtaking dancer, and i must repeat; '..the greatest legs'

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  47. Not sure if Vera suffered from a eating disorder or if she danced her ass off and that made her thin but I don't understand the comment that Anorexia is a spirit that dominates the person. Does anyone know what type of cancer she died from? I read somewhere it was Lung. I can not imagine she was a smoker and danced the way she did. Beautiful woman and her dancing still leaves me breathless.

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  48. I'm not 100% sure but I think she died of throat cancer.

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  49. When I was 10 years old in 1965 I saw White Christmas for the first time. Even at that young age I was amazed at the shear talent and beauty of Vera. Since then I have seen everything she has done on celluloid. In my opinion, she was the most talented female dancer of the 20th century, surpassing all others. she is missed greatly by this dedicated fan.

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  50. I just ordered Vera Allen's book on Amazon...can't wait to get it! I have no doubt Vera was anorexic. Fred Astaire also had his quirks about eating too. Both were obsessive about perfectionism. Those who push themselves to the limits are, not just dancers. I am a perfectionist myself. It's very easy to get OCD about things...just saying :)

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  51. I adore Vera. I just ordered Vera Allen's book on Amazon...can't wait to get it! I have no doubt Vera was anorexic. Fred Astaire also had his quirks about eating too. Both were obsessive about perfectionism. Those who push themselves to the limits are, not just dancers. I am a perfectionist myself. It's very easy to get OCD about things...just saying :)

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  52. Just a thought here. Everyone is quick to call her anorexic, however have you ever considered the amount of energy she was burning dancing and practicing? It would take an enormous amount of caloric input to keep up with her burn. My take is, she probably wasn't anorexic as much as she probably didn't eat and carb up like she should have. Just go google 'vera ellen tap dancing on her toes" and think of the fact that many times they did these numbers in one entire take. It took LOTS of practice to preform these flawlessly in their entirety.

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  53. I have loved watching Vera Ellen in White Christmas over the last 30-40 years. I must have watch White Christmas at least 50 times! It is one of the most beautiful movies ever made and one of my favourites. It saddens me to hear, how at the end of her life- like many dancers, the studios killed their movie careers. It saddens me that so many people will forget such a talented and beautiful actress/dancer. She was one of the best and will always remain in my heart. As I am writing this, I am actually watching White Christmas on TV. This movie represented such a beautiful era of movie making which we will never see again. How said is that. Thank God that we have DVD's that we can watch these musicals, over and over again. I believe they brought a lot of joy into people's lives and they still do to this day. And lastly, yes, she was a fantastic, fabulous, talented dancer!!! Tina R.

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  54. thanx all VE admirers, and CGordon - i just googled 'vera ellen tap dancing on her toes' - top of the results page. watch it thru to the end - the tapping on her toes comes in a close second to the balance and stamina demonstrated in her repeat twirling - virtually inhuman performance. i venture to say no other dancer has ever done this?? regardless - a beautiful human treasure.

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  55. Just finished watching White Christmas with my son, 15 years of age. We love the show and Vera-Ellen. I think her number with Danny Kaye (The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing) at the restaurant in Florida is great. They float and glide seamlessly. Beautiful.

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  56. Vera-Ellen was considered by many in Hollywood as technically the best female dancer, who was paired with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. When one watches her earlier films, such as "On the Town," "Words and Music," and "The Belle of New York," her neck is not covered. When watching her later films, it is. While the front of her neck appears all right, there is one film that is not mentioned where you CAN see how her thinness, where it be anorexia related or not, may have been reason for studio execs to have her costumes altered. In "Call Me Madam," with Donald O'Connor and Ethel Mermen, she plays a princess of the fictitious country of Lichtenberg. In one scene, she dances at a ball with O'Connor. As she turns with him, one can see the bones in the back of her neck, which are not normally seen in most people. Perhaps for this reason, her costumes were altered to hide this, much as Barbara Billingsley in "Leave It to Beaver," always wore pearls as June Cleaver, to hide the hollow in her neck. The same may even be said for Rosemary Clooney in "White Christmas" with her wide shoulder fitted dresses that furled out more at the bottom, to help narrow the appearance of her waist, as she was more full figured than Vera-Ellen. I will not speculate on the reasons for her thinness, but rather on reasons for the high-neckline costumes in her later films. Regardless, she was a spectacular dancer and one of my all-time favourites, ever.

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  57. There are many pics showing Vera Ellen looking lovely (including her neck) and frankly, in many pics, her legs look curvy and pretty even though they are slender. Kate Middleton comes to mind. I don't see the skinny bony legs of anorexia. One showing her in a short santa suit and perched on a chimney particularly show legs that look healthy. Perhaps it is just easier to believe rumors and negative press. As a former dancer, I have seen girls that have anorexia and most cannot perform well. Vera Ellen danced so well that I cannot believe she was ill and performing in that way.

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    1. yes. thank you for an even-keeled praise of vera. it seems the 'rumor sensationalists' and the 'praisers of a great human treasure' replies are 50-50. as for me - it simply feels good to share the evaluation of her incredulous talent with those of you like black cat.

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    2. So true. Vera only ever appeared very thin in White Christmas and as we know she had many heavy musical numbers which require endless rehearsal. Which in turn causes stress and exhaustion.

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  58. Audrey Hepburn was thin too.

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  59. What a beautiful woman, so full of life! 60 really is no age to die.

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  60. No-one has mentioned her ravishing solo dance in "The Bell of New York" - 'Naughty But Nice'. Just Vera in a black corset (neck visible), then in a wonderful black dress with flashes of yellow under-frills. This, I think, is her best solo number, and the movie - despite its silly story - has her best dances with Astaire.

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    1. I agree. The "Naughty But Nice" number is indeed one of Vera's best. Not only does she dance superbly in this number but she dances in heels and must maneuver that long dress while she does some incredibly difficult choreography.

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  61. So what if she was hiding her neck. That did not take away her sweetness, her beauty and her incredible talent. I wish everyone would stop belaboring this already.
    Enough is enough!

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  62. Vera Ellen was very unlikely 'Anorexic'. Other women seem to want to believe every thin woman is so. Rosemary Clooney was admittedly outspoken and would have suggested such if true. However Rosemary fondly remembered Vera as being very porfessional funny and practised her craft a lot. White Christmas had an outstanding cast. No doubt Vera wanted to be at her best which can be very stressful hence the weight loss. Notice; there are no pics of her that thin other than from WC. Anorexia doesn't go away after one movie. People who write books on Hollywood stars make up all kinds of crap for the public's titilation and it obviously works as some readers quote from these fictions as 'fact'.

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  63. Diane Hirshfield; I so agree. I guess spreading lurid accusations regarding Golden Age movie stars will never cease. And sells books to the gullible in our society. The 'recluse' accusation is the silliest. Just because former stars chose a normal life outside of show business in their later years is as normal as it gets. But rag media would rather you believe they never leave the house. Plain ridiculous!

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    1. I agree Moonraker, especially about accusations of her being anorexic. There is zero evidence of that.
      But I have heard over and over again (I know, that doesn't mean it's true) that after the death of her daughter, she never recovered from that, and became reclusive. I guess, as a diagnosis, probably deep depression.
      But the anorexia is not true.

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  64. "...will never cease..." so true. what an intelligent, caring comment. thanx for the rare balance in commenting on our beloved human treasure and off-the-charts talent - vera ellen.

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  65. I think her all time best dance was The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing. She did it in White Christmas with the underrated but extremely talented Danny Kaye. And her other all time best dance song was Thinking of You with Fred Astaire from Three Little Words. I am mesmerized when I am watching both of those numbers.

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  66. I only watched White Christmas for he first time three years ago I cant beleive I have been missing this great classic all these years.

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  67. I have always loved the Hollywood classics especially the musicals when I saw Vera in "Wonder Man" (made in 1945) with Danny Kaye and then in "White Christmas" you can see a big difference in her appearance. That being said, in my personal opinion she is and will remain one of my favorite actress/dancer ever. She was stunning and talented. And I'm saddened that she was ill but she was the most talented dancer I've ever seen on the silver screen. Her hard work will always be appreciated by those of us who love the classics!

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  68. Vera was amazing.White Christmas is now a tradition to watch in my house just as Its A Wonderful Life as been the past 25 years.Merry Christmas everyone.

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  69. Vera Ellen was just amazing. Beautiful figure and the best dancer I've ever seen. Lovely!! Merry Christmas to all!!

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  70. She looked so much better dancing with Fred Astaire than Ginger Rogers. She was slim and small just like Fred. I always felt Ginger was to big for him!

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  71. I was a big fan of Vera Ellen's, also. I was a singer/dancer and had a 23 inch waist at 5'7' and big thighs! I ate like a horse! The work keeps you thin. Her dancing was exquisite. And with that much work and training to be that good, she could have easily worked off any amount of calories. And I have no idea how anyone who danced like that could have an eating disorder that would have severely limited her energy.

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    1. I don't see how she could have had anorexia with all that physical activity. Not only does it work off calories, but she wouldn't even have much time to eat. It's inactivity that often causes someone to eat too much. When I'm really busy, I don't even think about eating.

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  72. i like your comment 'anon'. would be nice to never ever see again others suggest that she had an eating disorder. who cares! she was a superhuman dancer! lovely lady! tops talented! sang [almost, lol] as beautifully as rosemary clooney. a human treasure.

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  73. All that dancing that appears "effortless" to us, must have come with tremendous effort & discipline. Just watched "White Christmas" again, and it is because of her beauty & extraordinary talent that I looked her up. So much discussion (& conjecture) as to her thinness. But I am sad to learn of the demise of her only child from SIDS. Today, we know only too well how a broken heart & unresolved grief can lead to a myriad of ailments. I am an RN & worked in Women's Health for over two decades. The tragic details of her life story after the filming of White Christmas makes me wish all these years later, that this beautiful woman could have received the care & support we now offer. May she rest in "heavenly peace."

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  74. Beautiful talented actress and dancer. White Christmas is a life long favorite.

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  75. No one has mentioned the 1946 Vera Ellen movie, "Three Little Girls in Blue" which has recently been playing on American cable TV. In this film, she appears fit, trim,and athletic in production dance numbers (most notably the "You Make Me Feel So Young" dream sequence with Charles Smith). She also appears to be carrying significantly more weight in this film than in "White Christmas" 8 years later. The comparison of Miss Ellen's appearance between the two films is quite striking, enough to justify concerned speculation, in my opinion.

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  76. How sad that so many of the comments here address the subject of anorexia and not her extraordinary talent. She was a wonderful dancer and actor. Every time I'd watch White Christmas I was struck by her vivaciousness and how light she was on her feet. So sorry she was a recluse in the end. Such a lovely, talented woman.

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  77. I watched White Christmas again last night, after previously reading about her "anorexia" and while watching I was thinking there's no way she could dance those numbers and be anorexic. She was such a powerhouse dancer, something had to fuel that energy..... there's no shame in being anorexic, I just don't see how she could have been. I would kill for her legs

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  78. Through one number after another in "White Christmas", Vera Ellen astonishes in her ability to dance through a number of choreographic styles with grace and authority. There is no comparison on film. That this is still talked about in and of itself speaks to her talent and versatility. Enough said.

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  79. Gosh she was so talented and beautiful, I'm sure just as much inside as on the outside. I'm sure she is smiling down from heaven as each family gathers around every Christmas season to watch her shine on the big screen. :) Vera, thanks for being part of our family's tradition for many years.:)

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  80. She's probably smiling down from heaven right now as many families gather around the tv to watch her shine on the big screen! Thankyou Vera Ellen for being a part of our family tradition, and many others, every Christmas season!!!

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  81. Saw White Christmas again a few days ago which always brings a tear to the eye seeing how beautiful and brilliant she was with such a sad time to come.

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  82. I watch White Christmas every year without fail about a week before Christmas. Have been for about 40 years. Never knew Vera had such problems because she is such a wonderful part of the show and does not display any issues at all. I will enjoy the movie with additional enjoyment now that I know some of the history of the actors/actresses who made it an outstanding classic. Will continue to watch it every year until I am gone. Thanks Vera for many enjoyable memories.

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  83. I've watched White Christmas for years, but last year was the first time I Googled Vera-Ellen. After reading this blog last nite, I looked at a ton of images for her. It seems to me that ever since she started her career, as a teen I believe, she has looked & dressed pretty much the same. They dress her to show off her legs & face-her best visible assets, insides not withstanding. If she had cancer, who knows for how long, that takes a toll on ones looks, especially if she got treatment for it, which I would think she did. I think her manner of dress was simply more demure & occasion appropriate than we're used to seeing now. Happy Holidays!

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  84. To everyone here i'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas this Christmas Eve from Newfoundland ,Canada and I know you are all doing what i'm doing right now enjoying White Christmas on the Tv sipping some egg nogg or maybe something else .Enjoy and god bless

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    1. Yay Newfoundland!
      I love this movie, I watch it every year.
      I think Ms. Vera-Ellen had the most perfect figure. Standards are different today than they were back in her day. The average woman in 1954 was 5ft2, 136lbs, 36B-27-39. Today, the average woman is 5ft4, 38DD-34-40. Of course to our modern eyes she seems tiny. I'll bet back in the day she was seen as smaller than average but not frighteningly so.

      :)

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  85. I have watched Vera Ellen on many occasions. She was a wonderful dancer and a delightful, energetic screen luminary.

    Have a great Christmas.

    Last night, watching White Christmas I could not help notice her excessive thinness. Her legs were shapely but emaciated and her waist synched in below her ribcage seems painfully thin. I googled her to see if she had suffered from anorexia because even for a dancer (being a former dancer myself), her proportions seemed unusually thin.

    Why do people imagine that somehow an illness like anorexia is a blot or stain that diminishes a very exceptional talented, star like Vera?

    The human species produces exceptional people who often suffer from various health concerns. We look at what these people accomplish and try to educate ourselves about health issues, such as anorexia. Denying a diagnosis on the basis that it diminishes the sufferer or attacking anyone who raises the subject perpetuates misunderstanding and stigmatizing major illnesses particularly mental illness.

    A mental illness such as anorexia should no more affect our view of Vera and her achievements than a diagnosis of heart disease or diabetes. Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby died of heart attacks. Yet our views of their performances are not in any way affected by this information. Does Rosemary Clooney's bi-polar disorder change that she gave a great performance in White Christmas? Not in the least.

    Vera remains a great performer whether or not she suffered from anorexia. She lived at a time when little was known about this disorder. One can understand the pressure in Hollywood to be thin. Many stars such as Judy Garland were given diet pills and even speed to control their weight. Perhaps, we will never know whether she suffered from anorexia however, it's immaterial to enjoying her performances.

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    1. well said..not an issue she was brilliant...

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  86. I am watching her in White Christmas at the moment & think she looks fabulous ok very slim but that does not take from her talent. If she was ill it is only her own business!

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  87. My first exposure to the utter grace and athleticism of Vera Ellen was during early childhood, watching “White Christmas” on a 13-inch tv in my aunt’s kitchen. Even then, I could see her talent and feel her energy as she twirled and leapt across the screen. With every viewing of that movie, I find myself in awe of her performance. How many actors/ dancers/ performers had the ability to, at times, outshine cast members as phenomenal as Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye? The fact that Ms. Ellen did just that is, in my opinion, a true testament to her massive talent.
    I think the costumes brilliantly illustrated the sisters’ age and personality differences while enhancing each woman’s assets. (Personally, I consider Ms. Ellen’s legs to be an extraordinary asset, and her legwork and footwork are simply stunning!) I always assumed that her high necklines throughout the movie were based on the styling concept of only flaunting one body part at a time. In that case, showing a lot of leg calls for covering the rest of the body, for balance as well as modesty. And maybe part of it was personal preference, because I believe every woman feels self-conscious of at least one part of her body. Perhaps for Ms. Ellen it was her neck, and if it was, then she had her reasons. Regardless, I think she looked breathtaking throughout the entire film! Considering the sheer physicality of her dancing, I understand how she would have lost weight throughout the filming of this movie, so I think there are many factors that require consideration rather than speculation or accusation. Instead, I choose to focus on Vera Ellen as a brilliant entertainer and nothing less than a force of nature on the dance floor. When she danced, it was obvious there was nowhere else that she would rather be – and I am so grateful that she shared her passion and her immeasurable talents with the world!
    Thanks for letting me voice my opinion, and happy new year! - Rosebud

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  88. Interesting. I didn't think White Christmas was shown on television at that time.

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  89. It's interesting that so often performers such as Scot Hamilton, figure skater, are commended on overcoming illnesses such as diabetes to become great champions/performers. Why is anorexia different?

    Vera Ellen's achievements are if anything even more remarkable given the debiliating effects of anorexia. In the world of dancers, anorexia is nothing new. So many sufferers like Evelyn Hart deny that they have a problem yet accomplish tremendous things.

    If anything, we should celebrate a remarkable woman. One with not only talent but phenominal strength of character and courage. A person who makes the world a better place for their being in it.

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  90. The only reason I noticed is that I watched White Christmas for the first time on an 80 inch TV. In the past on a small screen, Rosemary Clooney seemed frumpy compared to slim Vera. It was the first time I noticed Vera's emmaciated thighs.

    I recently went to a party where a friend of mine told me she was anorexic. We're very fortunate as a society that we can discuss such sensitive subjects without judging. It's easy to tell someone that they should love their body but many people are raised with an idea that they have to be perfect to be acceptable. If we cannot as a society discuss such subjects, how can we help people to move past these models of perfection.

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  91. this is the type of comment that makes me boil with irritation. her legs illustrate the most perfect bone structure and muscular curvature. look at a starved person to see the difference. she was the best dancer in the world. bar none. face, neck, torso, legs, energy, spirit, acting and voice talent.
    the second paragraph is a regurgitated 'freedom to love your body and not judge....' cr-p - but the premise [emaciation] disclaims the value of the 'pc' statement.

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  92. It has not been established that Vera-Ellen even had anorexia. It's all from the rumor mill!

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  93. What are you talking about? sounds like jibberish.

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  94. You overweight women can say all you want but I'll tell you this. I'm an attractive well built man in my 30's with a six figure income and my own house with no debts and I would lick her legs and body from head to toe. Vera Ellen is gorgeous. Call her anorexic, I don't care. If she were around today, I would be going after her and her alone. That's the truth, ladies. Deal with it. She's so sexy, Wow.

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  95. The reason I looked her up, other than the fact she was so talented and beautiful, is that I noticed, in addition to covering her neck, she always wore sleeves. I had a friend who lost lots of weight due to having mono, and wore sleeves to cover her skinny arms. It is so sad that she lost her child. Thank you for your insight into her life.

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  96. Why do you assume every woman who thinks Vera Ellen may have been anorexic is overweight? Also remember the camera adds 10 pounds. I think she looks alarming and I'm accused of being too skinny!

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    1. I agree Patty C, just because some people believe she may have had anorexia does not mean they are overweight themselves.

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  97. Look at her knuckles- arthritis for sure. Probably a lot of pain from that.

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  98. I have just watched Vera-Ellen in "White Christmas". She had total control of what her body did, & those kicks. I loved her performance. I did notice how her legs looked & then realized she did wear turtle necks. She looked just as I looked when I was dysmorphia, & was experiencing disordered eating. I was very lucky, however, & I never moved on to Anorexia; that is why I googled her because I knew. It is easier to recognize when one has experienced it themselves.

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  99. Pamela again, two other thoughts, I did read that her mother told her she needed to stay thin to be a dancer. When Parents talk to children it is taken wrong with some. I saw this in eating disorder hospital, family therapy, etc.
    also, maybe the costumes in white Christmas were because she danced and didn't want anything falling out! Now people don't care if the whole breast falls out.....who ever wrote the book just wanted to make money, probably lied about her.

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  100. I love watching Vera. I don't know if she had a eating disorder. But if you are a dancer or take dance classes (I did for 8 years 4 days a week) your body is much leaner, firmer and muscular.

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  101. sensationalism is rampant in 99% of these posts - so senseless. thank you, anon, for this sensible comment, focusing on this lovely woman's virtually, inhumanly, immeasurable talent [which seems to be working against her! - for those that cannot simply accept that]

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    1. Your so Welcome, when I was 14 I saw White Christmas, fell in Love with Vera-Ellen❤️Have NEVER SEEN ANYONE Dance like her!
      Very Very UNDER RATED. I will NEVER Understand Hollywood?

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    2. it is not hollywood - sadly, it is modern day public who instead of praising her value, chooses to beat this 'anorexic horse issue' into the ground. have any of these rumor mongers searched 'vera - images'? - hundreds of bare neck pix.
      i watched 'WC' 3x this season. so beautifully crafted :)

      an aside: i wonder why i never hear any comments about rosemary's stick-in-the-mud, bitchy character. granted an important part of the storyline, but created and played to the degree that it is the one flaw in this otherwise flawless film.
      [don't get me wrong tho! she is another beautiful legendary songstress]
      love to all of them and all of their surviving families.

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  102. I'm sure everyone is SICK of me, but, This extreamly Talented, Beauty, isn't here to defend herself, Another thought, look at the DANCING in White Christmas, Imagine the Rehearsal Involved! Even I would lose weight under These circumstances, for an already slim, healthy person, it makes sense that they would lose weight! They didn't have shakes and bars for quick meals! etc. Again, who ever started the Anorexia thing should rethink the Diagnosis and look at the whole picture. Also, people who dance for a living
    Or other Body involved careers are obsessed with what they look like and sometimes might Go overboard.....also, no WAY she would have that kind of ENERGY if not EATING!

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    1. wow! 3rd reasonable post in a row!! you all made my day. i do hope this anorexic thing burns out. those who further that rumor are the sick ones. she was a healthy beautiful dynamo!

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  103. She had way too much energy to be anorexic! Lots of dancers that train for hours every day are as slim as she was. I'm guessing she didn't have enough cleavage to look good in low 50s styles, and she knew that so she usually covered up. I'm the same, my "rack" is a cake rack with no cakes on it.

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    1. thank you! agreed. and funny. AND kind - i am so sick of sensationalist rumor making. why must some do that!

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  104. In this day (2016) when we have had the chance to see what people with anorexia look like, it's hard to imagine that so many people fall for this silly urban legend! Vera was slim but muscular and athletic! Her face and skin show none to the signs of anorexia. Certainly her athletic dancing and energy would be impossible for someone with this disease!

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  105. thank you for exhibiting reason. all those senders of sensationalism - learn something!

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  106. Vera Ellen was truly a work of art. Amazing dancer and actress. Rest in peace. Watching white Christmas right now. Best Christmas movie of all time.

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  107. i agree, watching White Christmas again today! Vera Ellen is amazing and as good if not better than Ginger Rogers with her style and energy!

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  108. Vera-Ellen was for me, quite simply, an amazing, talented actress who we saw way too little of. (and for you PC grammar and technical aspects of my writing, IDC, IDC, IDC, (I Don’t Care) for you new fangled kids)).
    When watching White Christmas for the first time, probably in the 1960's, it was always VE who caught my attention and eye. I've NEVER been a musical/dance material type of audience, but if Vera was in a scene, I'd find a reason to watch. With the so few choices of movies in her repertoire, I feel there was so much more to Vera-Ellen that we missed out on, because of that.
    To all of the posters here who insist on debating anorexia or not, from the things I've read, she was a perfectionist thru and thru, so the hours upon hours she worked perfecting her steps, it must have made it impossible to keep her weight. Others have already stated how she would practice her steps/moves, morning, noon, and night. I have never been anorexic, nor have I ever been accused of beating anorexia, but in my opinion, pro/con anorexia should not be a topic for discussion with VE.
    With of course, not personally knowing VE, I could not possibly know the person, Vera-Ellen. From the personal reports I was able to read, she was a thoughtful, full of heart, and soft spoken person. With what we know of her Hollywood personal, I could not think of better qualities that we could all aspire to be to be better persons. We’d all be very lucky individuals, indeed.
    Finally, it saddens me every time I read accounts of her young daughter’s passing. Truly a tragic time in any parents’ history. For me, I hope Eternity has granted her the warmth, love, understanding, and, the peace, and love of her millions of fans, as she graced our short lives with her talents and graciousness of humanity. We still miss you.

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  109. Having studied and danced in ballet/tap myself I can say Vera surely had georgeous legs as well as a beautiful face. Im reading the comments about her having anorexia. Back then it was a little-known disease and no help for it. Gelsey Kirkland, who was a prima ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre was anorexic. She wrote the book "Dancing on My Grave" about her battle with this disease.
    I dont know if Vera Ellen had anorexia or not, but her legs,though beautiful, were extremely thin in White Christmas. In "On the Town" in 1948 she was normal thin for a dancer and shapely. However, in White Christmas, the difference is noticeable. She was a beautiful lady and very sad she died at 60.

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