Advice from Vera-Ellen
During my teens next to the movies I loved tap dancing best. Because my ambition was to become a dancer in the movies, I decided to write for advice from someone who knew all about it. I picked Vera-Ellen, the wonderfully athletic dancer who co-starred with Danny Kaye in Wonder Man and Fred Astaire in Three Little Words. She actually answered me. I still cherish the personal letter below she sent me way back in 1946.
I am sure you must think I have forgotten all
about you but Dear I have been so busy I just couldn’t
find time to write. Thanks for your nice letter and I hope
you received the autographed photo I sent you. I was so
pleased to know that you enjoyed Wonder Man as it
was my first screen picture. My next picture to be released
will be Kid from Brooklyn also with Danny Kaye and I
understand this will probably open in New York within the
next six or eight weeks. At the present time, I am
working on my new picture Three Little Girls in Blue but this
will not be finished until about March. I hope you will enjoy
all of our pictures.
I see you are also interested in dancing, well Dear
if you should make it your profession, I wish you all the luck
in the world. Of course, you know it means a lot of hard
work, but if you love it, you won’t mind the work. I started
dancing at nine years old back in my home town
Cincinnati, Ohio, but later went to New York to study pro-
fessionally. After that I went on the stage in New York and
this was where Mr. Goldwyn saw me and signed me up
immediately for pictures. I had been in five Broadway shows
before I came out here to Hollywood. So if you like dancing
enough to make it your profession, then keep up the good
and I am sure you will be successful.
I am sorry to have kept you waiting so long for an
answer to your nice letter but it just couldn’t be helped.
With all good wishes to you and the family.
Excited as I was about this letter, I realized my chances for success as a dancer were slim. Unlike Vera-Ellen, I couldn’t go to New York for professional training. Also, what about all that “hard work” she emphasized. I didn’t want anything to interfere with going to the movies as often as I wanted to. Continuing my dance lessons in Pueblo seemed the only option. Hollywood stardom would have to wait.
(Excerpt from my life-at-the movies memoir, Confessions of a Movie Addict, available in paperback and E-book format at Amazon.com.)