Thursday, December 18, 2014


Along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney - one of the most charming parts of the 1954 musical White Christmas was dancer Vera-Ellen. The movie was released 60 years ago, but since then rumors have persisted as to the health of Vera-Ellen during the making of the movie.

As you might notice, Vera-Ellen’s neck is covered in many pictures. In fact, her neck is covered up in the entirety of White Christmas. Vera-Ellen was an extremely thin woman who died in 1980 (at the age of 61). While never officially diagnosed during her lifetime (heck, the term itself was barely around during her lifetime), Vera-Ellen is alleged to have suffered from anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness pertaining to a distorted view of how skinny a person is that results in many different effects in people, most specifically, the physical problems of having their body waste away due to their belief that they are too fat.

Vera-Ellen was an EXTREMELY skinny woman for the rest of her life, and biographers of her have made it pretty clear that she suffered from the disease (it was perhaps exacerbated by studio weight requirements, something that afflicted Judy Garland, as well).

While it has not been proven, I do agree that the circumstantial evidence is probably there enough that I would tend to agree that she had SOME sort of eating disorder.

Bill Dennington, a friend of Vera-Ellen, had the following to say on the matter:
"Vera-Ellen was a friend for 20 years until her death. I was in L.A. and had lunch with her 2 weeks prior to her death. If you’ve read David Soren’s book Vera-Ellen: The Magic and The Mystery you would have seen my personal photographs of Vera-Ellen. The photographs were taken in the 60’s and 70’s and she looked fine. All of her life she wore something around her neck, a necklace,a choker, a scarf, a collar, etc., etc. It was her “trademark” like Van Johnson wore red socks. I saw her neck many times it was lovely… Audrey Hepburns. Hate that people think of her as “the dancer with anorexia” and not just the FABULOUS DANCER WHO HAS BEEN SO OVERLOOKED !!!!!!!!!!!!"
In any event, to the matter at hand – the story is that Vera-Ellen’s neck had to be covered up in White Christmas because the costumes were designed to cover her neck, which was aged beyond her years due to her eating disorder. If you search around, you’ll get that basic story in lots of places.

However, while I would agree that it seems to be too much of a coincidence that they happened to cover her neck in EVERY shot in White Christmas, I differ about the reason behind it. It may be none of our business what Vera-Ellen was suffering from, but regardless what is not disputed is that she was a wonderful and talented dancer...


  1. Vera Ellen didn't suffer from anorexia. Unfortunately, too many people today tend to jump to that conclusions when they see someone who is thin. This rumor has been debunked many times - her family, friends and acquaintances frequently and consistently asserverated that she didn't have any eating disorder. Her thinness during "White Christmas," which is admittedly more than is seen in some of her other film appearances, was due to unusually grueling rehearsal and dance requirements, especially as her numbers were so spectacular. This type of figure is not unusual among dancers. When I was 24, I was 5'8" and weighted only 112 pounds. And I have never been anorexic.

  2. I tend to agree, she looks fabulous as a dancer. During that age most dancers were on the skinny side, today most dancers have much bigger thighs and butts. I attribute that to all the massive hormones they feed to cows and chickens. If you notice each generation is getting taller and meatier.