Friday, December 17, 2010
In 1939, Vera-Ellen made her Broadway theatre debut in the musical, Very Warm for May at the age of 18. This led to roles on Broadway in, Panama Hattie, By Jupiter and A Connecticut Yankee, where she was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn, who cast her opposite Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in the film, Wonder Man. In this film, Danny Kaye plays a double role as a pair of identical twins, who look alike, but with very different personalities. Buster Dingle, who goes by the stage name "Buzzy Bellew" is a performer at a classy nightclub, while Edwin Dingle, is a bookworm writing a history book. The two brothers have not seen each other for years. Buster becomes the witness to a murder committed by mob boss "Ten Grand" Jackson and is also murdered. He comes back as a ghost, asking his twin brother for help to bring the killer to justice. Edwin takes his brother's place until after his testimony is given. He hides from Jackson's hitmen and performs Buster's nightclub show. To help him out, Buster possesses Edwin and he pretends to be a famous Russian singer with an allergy to flowers. Otchi Chornya, is continusly interrupted by his loud sneezes. The story is further complicated by the love interests of the two brothers.
She danced with Gene Kelly in, Words and Music, a movie loosely based on the partnership of the composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The film starred Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and Ann Sothern.
Her next performance with Gene Kelly was in the film, On the Town, A story about three sailors, Gabey (Gene Kelly),Chip (Frank Sinatra), and Ozzie (Jules Munshin), who begin their shore leave, Gabey falls in love with the picture of "Miss Turnstiles", who is actually Ivy Smith (Vera-Ellen). The sailors turn New York upside down looking for her. They are joined by, Claire (Ann Miller), an anthropologist and Hildy Esterhazy (Betty Garrett), a taxi driver and Ivy, an aspiring actress. They have a number of adventures before their 24-hour leave ends and they must return to their ship to head off to sea.
She also appeared in the last Marx Brothers film, Love Happy.
She received top billing alongside Fred Astaire in, Three Little Words and The Belle of New York (1952). A film set in turn-of-the-century New York, wealthy playboy Charles Hill (Fred Astaire) is causing problems for his Aunt Lettie (Marjorie Main) and lawyer, Max (Keenan Wynn). He is known to fall in love then ditching his brides-to-be at the altar. He hears Angela (Vera-Ellen) singing in a Salvation Army band. He falls in love at first sight.
Then she went on to co-star with Bing Crosby in, White Christmas and with Donald O'Connor in, Call Me Madam. Directed by Walter Lang, with songs by Irving Berlin, based on the stage musical of the same name.
She retired from the screen in 1957. Guest appearances on the television variety shows of Dinah Shore and Perry Como in 1958 and 1959 were last of her entertainment career.