Did Vera-Ellen’s Neck Have to be Covered During the Filming of White Christmas Because it was Ravaged by the Effects of Anorexia?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Vera-Ellen neck had to be covered at all times in the film White Christmas because her neck was ravaged by the effects of anorexia.

Vera-Ellen was a popular musical actress during the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

She appeared in such legendary musicals as On The Town and White Christmas.

Here she is in On the Town (1949) (she is the third woman in the picture)…


Here, then, are a number of pictures of Vere-Ellen from the 1954 film, White Christmas…





As you might notice, Vera-Ellen’s neck is covered in all of these 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 either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa (or possibly both).

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. Bulimia nervosa is a similar illness where women binge eat and then purge (through vomiting, laxatives or other means) what they eat. Some women alternate between anorexia and bulimia.

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 one or both of the diseases (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…..like Audrey Hepburns. Hate that people think of her as “the dancer with anorexia” and not just the FABULOUS DANCER WHO HAS BEEN SO OVERLOOKED !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to Bill for his valuable insight.

In addition, Vera-Ellen’s niece, Ileana Rothschild, stopped by to share her thoughts, as well:

I am Ileana Rothschild, and Vera Ellen was my aunt by marriage. I was born in 1967 and my mother and I went for my first visit to my aunt Vera’s home on Outpost Cove in Hollywood, CA.
My mother became one of her very close friends, and Aunt Vera gave her many of her baby Victoria’s personal items for me.
I know for a fact that Vera never stopped taking dance classes and maintained her slim figure always. Vera was an avid swimmer and she took me for my very first swim with her in her beautiful heated pool when I was only one month old.
My mother and Vera stayed good friends and often had dinner together. At times when having dinner at Vera’s home they were accompanied by Vera’s aged mother.
At this time Aunt Vera had been recovering from a mild stroke and would use a regimented swimming program as part of her total recovery: but had no eating disorder.
My aunt Vera Ellen was a fine loving and kind person with a beautifully toned body, which she always maintained.

Thanks for sharing, Ileana!

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 they (quoting from her wikipedia page here, to give you an idea of what the general thought is regarding the situation):

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.

One of the great “piece of Hollywood history” films that is available to us is the filming of the premiere of A Star is Born in September of 1954.

White Christmas filmed in late 1953.

Here is Vera-Ellen at the red carpet in September of 1954…



As you can see, Vera-Ellen’s neck is clearly evident in the shots, and her neck looks fine.

Similarly, here is a shot of Vera-Ellen from early 1953, right around the time she was filming Big Leaguer (which was filmed during Spring Training 1953).

So right before she filmed White Christmas and less than a year after she filmed White Christmas her neck looked fine.

This, of course, does not mean that there was not SOMEthing wrong with her neck during the filming of White Christmas, of course.

But the most commonly repeated story about it is that her neck was so ravaged with seeming old age that they had to cover it up, and that’s NOT the sort of thing that would just clear up in a year after not being present just a few months earlier in 1953, so that’s why I’m going with false, even though there could be some OTHER anorexia-related reason for the neck covering (like a general “It looked odd on camera uncovered”).

In addition, as Bill theorized, it could simply be something as simple as a covered neck being her trademark, like Van Johnson always wearing red socks or Flo in those auto insurance ads always wearing an open collar shirt.

Here’s the footage of Vera-Ellen from the 1954 event if you’d like to see her some more…

Thanks to LisaLaLisa92 for the footage and thanks to Doctor Macro for the great scans of Vera-Ellen from White Christmas. And thanks again to Bill and Ileana for their valuable insight into the life of a wonderful dancer who really HAS been far too overlooked in film history.

The legend is…

STATUS: I’m Going With False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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81 Responses to “Did Vera-Ellen’s Neck Have to be Covered During the Filming of White Christmas Because it was Ravaged by the Effects of Anorexia?”

  1. I tend to think it’s probably false that the studio insisted Vera-Ellen’s neck be covered for “White Christmas” because her lower half looks extremely thin in the dance numbers where she’s basically wearing fishnet hose and a costume best described as a beaded and sequined one-piece swimsuit. If the studio had been so concerned, they likely would have insisted on longer skirts to cover her skinny thighs and bony hips, which are much more obvious in the film as opposed to photo stills. No one thought someone being “too thin” was cause for concern in those days.

  2. I just watched the film and she doesn’t look any thinner than I’d expect from a dancer.

  3. Sheridan Picking on February 9th, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Anorexia Nervosa is a very common type of eating disorder. The main characteristic of the disease involves self-restrictive food behaviors, determining the affected persons to keep drastic diets in order to lose weight. Anorexia involves a phobia of being fat and people affected by the disease develop obsessions with food. Although the actual causes of anorexia are not clear, it seems that the disease has a pronounced psychological character. Anorexia occurs on the premises of emotional distress and mental instability and the majority of affected people have a low self esteem and a poor self-image..

    Our favorite online site

  4. I honestly can’t tell. Is this spam or what?

  5. Has anyone ever noticed the resemblance of Vera Ellen’s looks and shape to the original Barbie doll that came out in 1959? She is a dead ringer for the doll.

  6. An anorexic never looks that vibrant or energetic. She was very active personally and professionally. She was petite as well. Her costumes if compared with Rosemary Clooney were custom made and fitted to flatter their assets as well as hide their flaws.

  7. I have been a huge fan of Vera-Ellen for so many years – I saw White Christmas first when I was about 7, which is 44 years ago : ) I’ve always loved Danny Kaye’s comedic turns in films and TV, but Vera-Ellen took my breath away even then with her dance numbers. Even at that age, I marveled at how much she resembled a Barbie doll – or did the Barbie doll model her?? Her super small waistline and seemingly long legs – was she really only 5’4″ – that is what is posted on IMDB, but she looked so much taller.

    She may or may not have had an eating disorder, but her dancing speaks for a very well-conditioned athlete who worked hours on end to make those films. I’m not sure someone who was ill could do that. With respect to the neck covering costumes, it makes sense, as they would want to show her legs, but she wasn’t tall – adding more costume around her shoulders and neck serves to elongate her body… which may be why she continued the trend later in life. Who knows?

    Her talent was so amazing, but her personal losses sadly took their toll. I just hope that people continue to see and appreciate her talent.

  8. Vera Ellen was anorexic no doubt…she was way too then in White Christmas you would have to be blind to not notice. It is a fact camera adds 10 pounds so guess what? She was even thinner in real life! Dancers are often anorexic like ballet dancers and models! Audrey Hepburn was too! It is so out there in the open fact that it is crazy to discuss the obvious! As much as we love these stars they were anorexic. They had to be really thin to dance in such a way it is easier to pull off then being medium weight! Like a body builder who is bulked! I feel bad for Vera’s baby dying of Sids! Wish she had tried again for she was lovely!

  9. Reports of Anorexia/ odd eating habits and being a recluse are simply ridiculous. So-called biographers are often no more than sensationalists who’s embellished imaginations of the stars takes on a life of it’s own in order to shock and tantalize the public’s curiosity. All movie stars did not have sensational lives, did not sleep with half as many people as media would have you believe. They have had people having affairs who have never even met each other or living in places they have never been. Watch the movie “Sweet Smell of Success” which gives a great insight to how Hollywood tabloid was run then and now.

  10. I have seen her in many films and she seems to be the same size in them. I don’t know why she covered her neck throughout the movie White Xmas, but it didn’t interfere with her awesome dancing! I also agree with Pat Ogle saying she’s a dead ringer for the Barbie doll….how true.

  11. As someone who has worked with people with anorexia on a professional level , I’ve never looked at Vera-Ellen and seen any of the little physical give-aways that someone has anorexia.

  12. I always thought that she was the most beautiful woman to ever walk this earth. Sixty years, six months and two weeks was not enough time.


    Tom Degan

  13. Vera Ellen had a disproportionately long torso for someone who was 5ft 4 inches, and her photo trick of standing on her toes made her look taller than she was.
    If you could find a picture of her standing flat footed, you would see that she has an extra long torso in proportion to her legs. That same proportion in a man, would make him need a Tall in a shirt, regardless of his leg length.
    I notice this because I sew for people with physical anomalies.
    My husband wears a Tall shirt, and has a 30 inch inseam, the same as I, and I am only 5 ft 4 inches.
    Her long torso and slim body permitted her tiny waist. A short torso a la Judy Garland, makes a tiny waist more difficult to achieve. Those inner organs have to fit in somewhere.
    That is why babies and toddlers have bellies, their torso has not gotten long enough yet to hold all the organs in the available space, so the organs stick out in a belly.

  14. I think the reason she had to cover her neck at all times in White Christmas because she never really looked as though she was actually singing in any scenes. I think she may have lip sang (or synched? Idk) and it was probably easier to cover it up by covering her neck so that you couldn’t see that there was no vocal movement. I’m no expert in this. This is just my theory. I come from a family of singers/vocalists and we were all taught how to tell the difference by looking at someone’s neck.

  15. Vera-Ellen was someone who had to overcome childhood illness and observe strict daily disciplines in order to achieve the dance and film career she had; while she didn’t ‘die of anorexia’ as Karen Carpenter is said to have done, it’s safe to assume that she was probably not very happy with her physical image AND very much in control of her diet, which are typical characteristics of those with this condition. In ‘White Christmas’, and I don’t mean this lasciviously, her inner thighs are actually stringy; she almost looks like she’s wearing a diaper. It may be that in the film her bare neck also looked too thin for her head – it’s the same size, if not bigger, than Rosemary Clooney’s. But mystery will always follow Hollywood types who drop out.

  16. I actually love White Christmas. I love the movie so much that I watch it 2-3times back to back. When I first watched this movie I knew there was something wrong with Vera-Ellen. I’m only 37yrs. So you see this movie been around longer than me. I notice her waist, her legs (thighs) & her upper body. My first thoughts were something is wrong with her. Whether you want to admit it or not it’s clear that she had a problem. I’m 5ft2 (& a half :•) weight 115pds & I look healthier than she did. She dances well don’t get me wrong but that didn’t stop her extra curriculum. What I never notice was the neck cover up until today reading this article. It never dawn on me to look at her that close. I mean it’s oblivious about her weight but her neck cover up… Come on! Well I guess I’m gonna have to start the movie over to see the neck thing ;•)

  17. I don’t think she was anorexic. I don’t think someone with that problem could have danced like that. I mean, her dances are practically gymnastic stunts. She is flipping and doing the splits, etc. I think her body was extremely thin because she worked out so hard with those dance routines. I could be wrong, but if she wasn’t eating, where did the energy come from?

  18. I watch Ms. Allen whenever possible. She was an immensely talented Lady who should have had a Superstar status.

    You can see her Love for her craft, which is evident by the almost electrical performances she gives.

    I am sincerely saddened that I was never able to see her in person.
    But I am so glad that there are plenty of new, young fans, who have fallen in love with her.

    Thank you so much Ms. Allen. Sleep peacefully.

    BTW, as far as the reasoning for her neck always being covered in White Christmas….

    It’s blatantly obvious and simple.

    It’s supposed to be winter in Vermont.

    And… She is referred to as the “young chick to be protected”.
    A turtle neck protects you. A warm cocoon.
    Lastly, in the day… Young Ladies kept more covered up.

  19. I don’t think she was anorexic, she was just very small and petite. And there’s pictures of her mostly in Back and White where she isn’t covering her neck and she looks fine.

  20. I have no idea why I find the speculation that Vera Ellen suffered from an eating disorder sad, but it’s rather vicious. She was a dancer and a swimmer and relatives’ and friends’ memories would dispute the rumor. Dancing, much less as a career, keeps one slim. Look at all the Dancing With The Stars female performers. They all lose weight and develop great looking bodies.

  21. I asked the internet if Vera Ellen had anorexia, didn’t know anything about the neck thing. Anyway, I wanted to know if she’d died of it, now I decided I don’t care, and I’ll just go on loving her, and keeping her, and Bing, Danny, and Rosemary in my heart each Christmas.

  22. Vera Ellen rocks !!! I watch White Christmas several times every year. There is a tap number where she rapid fires a toe tap as fast as any drummer. You can’t dance like that and have anorexia. As mentioned a thin waist is possible to certain body physics. No body says Fred Astaire was anorexic !!! I just don’t believe any of this silly notion … her legs are gorgeous, her neck is gorgeous … everyone should just admit; Vera Ellen is just plain gorgeous !!!

  23. I’m thinking Vera Ellen’s costumes for White Christmas were designed 1) to make her look more like she could have been Rosemary Clooney’s sister 2) and to minimize her attractiveness as compared to Rosemary Clooney so they would both look beautiful in the movie.
    Vera Ellen was fearless. I can’t get over how she let them THROW her down a staircase in “Mandy”. I never get tired of watching her dance numbers in this movie. She was amazing!

  24. If anyone who is aware of how debilitating anorexia nervosa is and what it does to the hair and skin as well as to the body will know WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT that Vera-Ellen DID NOT have this disease! There is NO WAY she could dance with such vitality and stamina as she did. She was petite always, but she ATE! She ate well and ate healthily consuming meals that gave her the most energy to dance. To combat crippling arthritis, she started taking dance lessons again to remain limber and she swam in her Hollywood home pool daily.

    She, however, had a body that was similiar to the starlets of the 20’s and 30’s rather than the 50’s who were buxom and had quite a lot of meat on their bones (see Rosemary Clooney). Edith Head said that her colar bone “jutted out,” (don’t ALL colar bones do this)? She also covered her neck to make it look longer, as Vera-Ellen had a short neck.

    I wish people would stop saying she had anorexia, when she didn’t.

  25. By covering her neck, Edith Head felt that Vera-Ellen’s short neck looked “longer.”

  26. I loved Vera Ellen; she was a fantastic dancer and really never got enough recognition. I do not think she was anorexia, and I never have. In all the movies I saw her in, she always looked about the same weight; she was a petition woman, and that’s all. And as someone else mentioned, if she anorexia nervosa, there is no way she could have danced like she did. No way!

  27. I agree with Kris D. – she was small boned and petite. I am 5’1″ tall and have a similar build (or did when I was younger) my waist was 18 inches and that’s just the way I was built. As a dancer and being so fit – she just watched what she ate and worked out. Although I am medium boned, clearly she is small boned. Anyway, loved her and always will!

  28. As a person who suffered from anorexia nervosa early in my life I can tell you that it clearly appears to me that Vera Allen was a very slim figured woman and that is all. A person with anorexia nervosa looks more like a concentration camp victim (that’s what I looked liked during my illness) which clearly she does not. Some people are just very small boned and have a very high metabolism and are extremely active. They are very slim. Take Fred Astaire for example. I hardly think anyone would consider him anorexic, though he had a very blithe airy figure. And no one saw his legs or neck because he was a man and was not attired in that type if revealing clothing.
    I was anorexic at 80 ponds. And then I was a very slim but healthy woman at 110 pounds. Just a blithe figure. Ate a lot. Moved a lot and have a small frame.
    That is NOT the same as anorexia, I can tell you from experience.

  29. I am watching Vera Ellen on On the Town . And her legs are all tight and muscular. Not at all watch you would see in a anorexic person . There are incidents of her becoming sick on the set or overwhelmed or overworked . Gene Kelly was famous for excepting everyone to be as good as him in his film . If Ms. Ellen had the decease his direction would put her in hospital more than likely.

  30. I just think she was amazing as a dancer and actress. I miss the good old days of the fantastic actresses and actors!!!

  31. wow, get real. she wasn’t even that thin. anyone who thinks she was anorexic doesn’t know what anorexia is. if you were familiar with the disease you would know after watching her for 2 minutes that she almost certainly didn’t suffer from it.

  32. Edith Head designed the costumes and she famously disliked exposing collar bones on thin women. She also designed the costumes for Roman Holiday and covered up Audrey Hepburns collar bone.

    Vera Ellen was an exceptional dancer. A lot of female dancer at that time were the same size. I hope it was due to hard work and good nutrition. It’s sad to think it could’ve been due to an eating disorder. X

  33. Someone can be malabsorbed, meaning they do not absorb nutrition properly through the small intestine. Gluten can be the problem or pancreatic weakness issues. One does not necessarily have to binge and purge to be that thin.

  34. I always felt it was because Vera was long and lanky and Rosemary was fuller, that made Edith Head raise the collars to adjust for Vera’s long neck. A high neckline would not have worked for Ms. Clooney and a low neckline would not have been flattering on Ms. Ellen. Edith Head was simply trying to equal out the two women and I think it worked out marvelously!

  35. she had the barbie doll face, figure, everything.

  36. I am a lover of good movie making and of wholesome film entertainment.
    I do not get tired of watching,”White Christmas” and its musical numbers. Every Season, I watch this movie without fail. the last musical number, before the end of the movie, moves me deeply.

    These talented professionals that could do every thing, dance, sing, act and talk, were a gift to us all. I miss them.

    The entertainment industry that, has been able to come up with awesome technical improvements, does not produce this kind of artist any more.

    Vera Ellen was exceptional, in her craft, and it is sure that the death of her infant son was a terrible episode in her life.

    Wherever she is today, she’ll be dancing and making those around her glad.

    Angel Herrero
    Saint Cloud, Florida

  37. While watching White Christmas again, I was wondering about why all of Vera Ellen’s clothes are high necked. I thought of anorexia too. But, maybe it helped differentiate the two female leads, both blondes (at least here) by having their clothes differ consistently. And, I’ve always thought that the main reason her clothes are high necked is she was very small busted, as some very thin women are. It’s hard to wear some styles.

  38. I do think it’s odd that she wears high neck colors in every single scene in White Christmas- even her pajamas! But yet it is interesting to see that she obviously exposed her neck around the time of the film. So I agree- it may not have been due to a neck ravaged by anorexia but there may have been something going on. But I do think she did indeed suffer from an eating disorder- her body has always looked more extreme than just a “dancer’s body”. Add to this that if you look at her early movies when she was a teen, she was adorable but had what could be perceived by some as “baby fat”. She may have been pressured or shamed, contributing to an eating disorder. Her body type was completely opposite in those earlier films so I’ve always suspected it. Her thinness is almost shocking in White Christmas. But she was an extremely talented, beautiful actress and dancer- and despite her skinniness, knew how to wear fashion. Her dance with Danny Kaye is one of of my favorite scenes!

  39. Reguardeless of a potential personal problem, Vera-Ellen is an amazingly talented & beautiful dancer. It doesn’t matter if she had an eating disorder. That is of no concern to anyone. Spectulation is dangerous & disrespectful. Her life, talent & beauty is ever present, she loved what she did. She is the best dancer I’ve ever watched! I think she’s tiny because she danced all of her curves off practicing hours on end! I’m going with that….we shall focus on her positive attributes, not her potential demons, they belong only to her & people have no room to judge! Much love Vera-Ellen!!

  40. I believe Vera Ellen was the most gorgeous dancer of all time!!! I love all her beautiful dance scene costumes…especially the “Hot Pink” one….what a fabulous dancer…..”WOW”…WOW…”WOW”!!!! I watch “White Christmas” every Christmas….thank you for honoring Vera Ellen and nit finding faults with her….

  41. i don’t beleave what they say about her. vera ellen is my hero every x-mas. she was such a great dancer, i play my movie every year, i can’t think of a x-mas without it, and every time i see it i am awed by her talent. she is my favorite , thier will never be a talent like hers again.

  42. Vera-ellen is fabulous and I watch White Christmas every year and am watching it now!!! Her dancing is up there with Ginger Rogers , as a matter of fact she is better! Thin yes but adorable and I agree she could NOT possibly be anorexic with that much stamina!

  43. I annually watch White Christmas and have always though she had an eating disorder. In the scene where they are on the train, her ribs stick out painfully. In “Mandy”, one can see how thin her legs are. One can also tell that during most of the production she wore a padded bra. Maybe she was toned all her life but that would be normal as much as she danced and swam. Having a stroke that early in life means there was some other going on as well and the cancer that took her so young is sometimes (actually, quite a bit) associated with anorexia (called cancer nervosa). There is a scene with a short close up in the train, which, if you freeze, you can see the neck damage. As far as the still photos, this proves nothing as even in those days they air-brushed.

    Anorexia Nervosa is a serious disorder. Not everyone dies young but the toll it takes on the body does take the years off a life. It’s a shame that such a great talent as hers was overlooked when no musicals were about and I would never refer to her as the Anorexia Lady from White Christmas. And, no, as one comment suggests, would the studio ever say something about her being too skinny. In fact, quite the opposite. As long as one was performing, and not too fat for the cameras, they would have left her alone. If she had had a little more meat on her bones (plenty of the girls in the chorus line had some meat on their bones), the studio would have probably given her some speed to increase her metabolism – although that did not happen with Rosemary Clooney.

  44. I think Ms. Ellen was far too athletic and energetic to be sick with anorexia. Not to mention, her hair is thick, shiny, and bouncy, and her skin is healthy not gaunt.
    I’ve seen White Christmas numerous times, and I have always noticed how thin she was, but I always assumed that she just had a hyper-metabolism and was the kind of woman who had trouble keeping weight on. It’s not completely uncommon. Everyone knows someone who can eat anything they want and never gain weight. Add to that the types of complicated energetic fast-paced routines she was doing in WC, with rehearsals everyday for weeks on end, and of course she’d become a little underweight. And as tiny as she was, even a 5 pound loss would be noticeable.
    Also, she wasn’t quite as buxom in the bosom as Rosemary Clooney was. Maybe the film makers thought it would be less noticeable if they covered her upper body or maybe they worried she would make Rosemary Clooney look heavy by comparison. I just don’t think she had an eating disorder.

  45. OMG,….The opinions of many diagnosing Vera Ellen with that horrible disease is off base, out of line, etc. Being a male, having participated in ALL male sports requiring good eating habits, excercises to maintain physical requirements is parallel to a Professioal Dancer, which is just what Vera Ellen is/was. While in college, having relatives involved with dance schools, myself and another male were asked to help with Adaggio which introduced me to the “Dancers” physical requirements. The girls/ ladies we had to toss around were very much like Vera; physical, toned bodies, atheletes and fantastic personalities. My family also enjoys the movies with Ms Ellen demonstrating her talent during holidays, what refreshing movies to watch. I agree with those who say Vera was not recognized for her talent , so sad.
    So nice we have ability to view these wonderful movies over and over.

  46. I don’t think she had any kind of eating disorder, I myself am pretty petite and have around the same figure, and I eat quite a bit more than you’d think, lol. And I agree, she’s very bright and has lots of stamina, she really seems so happy and energetic in White Christmas. And speaking of that, she did lip-sync as someone else suggested (Rosemary Clooney’s sister actually sang her parts!), so it’s certainly understandable that the producers had her wear high necklines to cover her throat, so no one would tell it wasn’t really her voice. Also, like someone else said, the higher necklines could’ve helped to elongate her body and make her seem taller.

  47. I also do not think she looked like someone with an eating disorder. She had very muscular legs and if you look at her face, there isn’t any sign of wasting. The pictures from 1953 and 1954 show a normal appearing neck. I think she looked great and was a truly great dancer.

  48. There are so many factors to consider in an issue like this one…..
    A true athlete who works out hours every day will burn several thousand calories a day. Some extreme athletes work out so much that they loose their appetite and then struggle to eat enough to keep up with their bodies need for food intake. with these thoughts in mind, it is most feasible to assume that this beautiful woman was unable to consume enough calories to keep her looking like “we” think she should have looked.
    No doubt she was extremely disciplined. She had to be from the moment she decided that she was going to be a professional dancer. It would be a mandated item for a dancers to
    be disciplined eaters. Have you ever seen an over weight ballerina…..???
    As far as her beautiful clothing in White Christmas, the designs were made to make her look long and elegant. Again I am going to refer to a ballerina. The toe shoes of ballerina give such a lovely long elegant look. When filming, there are always ways to create the illusion for being tall, short, chubby, thin, or anything that is desired by the director.
    It’s so sad that as human beings we feel the need to prey on other people. I suppose in a way, it’s supposed to help us feel better about ourselves. Very sad.
    As far as the music and vocals go, the director used Rosemary Clooney voice for both female singing parts.
    What I have chosen to do is to appreciate the unbelievable BRILLIANCE and BEAUTY of such a gifted dancer. Her love for her craft, combined with her elegance and grace were truly a work of art for all to witness.

  49. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VwWWbEbZptc

    It’s clear by this video : her clavicle and rib cage make anorexia very evident. Full disclosure: I’m a healthcare provider.

  50. Maybe her throat is covered to hide the fact that she’s NOT singing? Perhaps she doesn’t like her neck and prefers it covered? She does have an abnormally large indentation there. As for how slender she is…I think she’s wearing a corset which makes a thin person even thinner. She looks very thin but she’s so fit there’s probably 0% body fat. Her legs are solid muscle and I would imagine someone who is anorexic or bulimic would be more skeletal. I love White Christmas and now need to go find and watch her other movies.

  51. It is not Christmas for me, without watching White Christmas 3 or 4 times during the holidays. Vera-Ellen was fantastic, so talented, so beautiful. It is very sad to think
    That anyone even thinks about her personal issues, IF they existed, instead of just enjoying a wonderfully entertaining film and her extrodinary talent.

    RIP, Vera-Ellen, you were terrific and your talent appreciated.

  52. Regarding the comment by the Anonymous Healthcare Provider on Dec 9th, 2017. I’m a healthcare provider as well. I work at an Alzheimer’s facility. That doesn’t make you or I an expert on Vera Ellen nor anorexia nervosa. I’m also 59 years old and a former athlete. At almost 60 I am still built like a fullback. I’ve always appreciated a fit woman and when I watch Ms. Ellen I see a stunning example of a woman who worked hard at her craft, one which was very physical. She’s petite but solid. I have had family members who had eating disorders and I can tell you Ms. Ellen had none of the muscle, skin, nor energy issues those family members had.

  53. I think the reason her neck is not shown is because it elongated her short frame and created an illusion of her torso being longer and her being taller. Several scenes in White Christmas have her wearing belts that show her tiny waist and the dance scenes emphasized her long legs which those costumes made visually prominent.Figure skaters did similar for years. Maybe someone in costuming (or herself) knew the way to feature her best assests in this movie.

  54. I have always been a huge fan of Vera Ellen. She was a great beauty and dancer, and she had so much energy and was well built. You can see she is in great physical shape when you see her dance. Personally, I admired her slender legs. She was just super in “White Christmas”, as was the rest of the cast. Danny Kaye was super too. I feel so sad she lost her daughter to SIDS. That must have made her feel so much guilt, particularly back then; and we now know it happens to so many babies through no fault of parenting. Vera is the actress/dancer I would choose to be !

  55. Every dancer behind her in White Christmas is better looking, and would do the part better probably. Look how full-bodied all the other dancers are compared to her. It stands out how ridiculously thin she is. It looks like someone who is sick, and her dancing is nothing special. She even looks awkward at times. Plus, she can’t sing. Makes you wonder who she was sleeping with to get the part. But it does go well with a grandfather romancing a 26 yr old girl – Crosby and Clooney. Vera-Ellen ruins the dance scenes for me. Her legs do not look athletic, they look sickly.

  56. Watching White Christmas now – love this movie! Vera Ellen is a magnificent dancer in this movie and quite beautiful. I think the “neck coverage” thing could be the costume designer. All the costumes in this movie are spectacular. I was sorry to ready that Ms. Ellen died at the age of 61 – so young. How unfortunate. She could have given back a lot to the dance community.

  57. She seemed extremely thin to me in WHITE CHRISTMAS. That said, I figured the reason for her neck being covered was a proportional reason. Because she was a dancer and thin as dancers tend to be, by covering her neck and arms, creating the small waist, and having her wear fuller skirts, Edith Head creates the illusion of that curvy figure/figure 8 figure that was so popular in the 50’s. Seems like a costuming choice to me and a brilliant one at that!

  58. I was in my 20’s when I saw White Christmas for the first time. Sadly, the effects of Bulemia are apparent. The Withdrawn face with deep wrinkles in her cheeks from throwing up. I have several friends that are professional dancers and ballerinas. Again, sadly eating disorders are common practice. Her body physique was classic Eating disorder. I remember asking my Mom without knowing anything if she had body dysforia. There are tens of professional dancers on set. Not one looks like her. She had a problem.

  59. I echo the comments by the poster above who shared…

    BTW, as far as the reasoning for her neck always being covered in White Christmas….
    It’s blatantly obvious and simple.
    It’s supposed to be winter in Vermont.
    And… She is referred to as the “young chick to be protected”.
    A turtle neck protects you. A warm cocoon.
    Lastly, in the day… Young Ladies kept more covered up.

    I would add that designer Edith Head was always on the lookout for the next fashion trend so that she could work with a manufacturer on “Designed by Edith Head” apparel. She may have thought the style she was creating for Ms Ellen would be the next big thing.

    Also, the number of women on amphetamines, aka diet pills, in those days was amazing. They ramped up your metabolism to the degree that, when you stopped using them, your body was not able to process foods normally. (Ms Clooney is a case in point.) they were probably Both on them during this period in their lives.

  60. It’s painful to watch white xmas. She clearly is a different weight in the film than she is in the pre-production shots for the film. I’ve been around dancers all my life and know their patterns. She looks extremely dehydrated in more than one shot. Even if she looks different before and after the filming, that is very common with someone with an eating disorder. This poor woman was yet another extremely talented woman abused and chewed up by Hollywood. Just reading the BS blurbs by people claiming to be close to her… as someone who has been around eating disorders the people close to you usually are the ones in the most denial. Meaningless quotes. The film evidence is very real as is her life story. I’m sure if the costume designer etc was still alive they would have some insight on the matter. Now at least people are more educated with the physical signs of this mental disorder.

  61. I’m confused. I’ve just looked at lots of pictures of her, and she doesn’t look that thin in any of them.

  62. I have loved Vera-Ellen in White Christmas all my life. I noticed the oddity of her neck always being covered in the movie years before it became “Internet urban myth” fodder. Whether it was anorexia or some other cause, I believe the costume director and filmmaker decided her neck did not photograph well. I don’t buy the idea that they were trying to make her look taller or her neck look longer. A turtleneck can actually emphasize a short neck. I know because I have a short neck, myself. As for her being too thin, I don’t agree. Her thighs are very stringy looking but that’s all. Her face looks normal and I don’t really think her waistline was incredibly small. She wore a lot of very tight belts and corseted costumes in that movie that artificially pulled her stomach in. But I always thought her body looked odd because her ribcage seems so big in comparison. She was, no doubt, a very petite woman, and I am sure she worked hard to get and stay that way. I recently watched her in Wonder Man (again with Danny Kaye) and she was noticeably heavier (and not quite as pretty) in that earlier film. Her face was quite full. Maybe she didn’t like that image of herself, because a fat face makes you appear heavier than you are. For a film star, or anyone constantly being photographed, it’s usually the kiss of death to appear fatter in pictures. I also have a naturally full face and I have to weigh next to nothing for my face to appear slim. I understand Sandra Dee had the same issue. Her rounded “baby face” was something she fought against and helped push her to anorexia. Finally, no matter what, Vera-Ellen was a fantastic dancer. So lightening quick! But just because she was a great dancer doesn’t mean she never wrestled with an eating disorder. Just ask the multitudes of gymnasts, ballerinas and other dancers how common it is to be anorexic and still perform like a pro.

  63. Jayolay, you are so lucky to have a full face. It makes you look much younger. This is what made Sandra Dee look so young.

  64. Cathleen Scott on June 28th, 2018 at 2:05 am

    I agree that Vera’s neck was not ravaged by Anorexia. I believe she wore high necked outfits to keep warm. Soundstages are usually chilly unless you are directly under the lights.
    I read that she had a diet regimen that she followed for many years. would also state the probability that she had a strict dance training regimen that she followed, given the fact that she was one of the best dancers in Hollywood. I personally believe, that she dance/trained herself super skinny. No one could dance the way she did if their body didn’t have the energy reserves to back it up. Yes she is be considered anorexic looking by our standards today.

  65. I’m 5’3” 100# give or take and 35-25-35. I don’t have an eating disorder. I’m fat skinny though and she was toned as hell. Some people are just tiny.

  66. If I had to guess, it might be that Vera Ellen might have felt her neck looked too long, and used necklines to cover.

  67. Wendy L. Mielak on November 28th, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Not only from the evidence of family members, photos, and the symptoms of anorexia that were never shown… You can tell by how not one bone is seen through her skin… She is meaty and well formed… I was anorexic and every day was a struggle to get out of bed… Vera had a lot of energy in every thing she did… If she had been anorexic she wouldnt have that energy, she would be dehydrated and have fainting spells, depression, and consistent head aches to the point you can not move… Ive been there, its not pretty… From a previous anorexic person, she shows no hint of anorexia… She was just smart and knew had to take care of herself…

  68. Vera Ellen was anorexic no doubt…she was way too then in White Christmas you would have to be blind to not notice. It is a fact camera adds 10 pounds so guess what? She was even thinner in real life! Dancers are often anorexic like ballet dancers and models! Audrey Hepburn was too! It is so out there in the open fact that it is crazy to discuss the obvious! As much as we love these stars they were anorexic. They had to be really thin to dance in such a way it is easier to pull off then being medium weight! Like a body builder who is bulked! I feel bad for Vera’s baby dying of Sids! Wish she had tried again for she was lovely!

  69. I have seen her in many films and she seems to be the same size in them. I don’t know why she covered her neck throughout the movie White Xmas, but it didn’t interfere with her awesome dancing! I also agree with Pat Ogle saying she’s a dead ringer for the Barbie doll….how true.

  70. Christopher Sands on December 10th, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    i’ve somehow never stumbled across this topic (Vera-Ellen) before, and here I’ve gone, these past 50-or-so-years,thinking that i’ve been the ONLY one to see the resemblance to the original Barbie Doll! The one that came in the black & white ,diagonally striped, one piece bathing suit, with the Raffia sun hat, and, on this, my memory MAY be exaggerating, a trés French poodle, with a shape that was somewhat of a cross between Margaret DuMont, and Mae West.

  71. Holly Catherine Slavic on December 16th, 2018 at 3:23 am

    Vera had really beautiful, shapely legs. Doesn’t appear to be anorexia.

  72. I think it’s awful that people are so worried about Vera’s neck & her eating habits . This woman was a fantastic dancer & actress . I don’t know how anyone could dance like that & not eat . I think it’s her signature to wear stuff on or around her neck . Plus who cares she was a fabulous dancer full of talent ! Yes she was thin but that could also be in her genes too. You also would have to be thin to be able to dance like that . Have you seen fat dancers dancing like that ?

  73. Covering the neck n chest is a clothes design trick to make a woman look heavier. In White Christmas, Edith Head had a zaftig and a skinny co-star pair. She showed a lot of Clooney’s cream skin (appropriate for the beautiful love interest, the emotionally mature sister) and she dressed Vera-Ellen in a manner more light and vivacious. This matched both women to their respective love interest. You didn’t have to be vulgarly naked back then to be an attractive woman and Vera-Ellen’s long sleeves and high neck prevented her character from competing visually with her sister’s womanly ripeness. That’s all.

  74. In the paragraph where the different eating disorders are explained, the author only says “women” when explaining what the affected person goes through. It’s important to know that this is not just something that affects women.

  75. Sad that people have to put others down when they don’t know what they are talking about. I would strong suggest others learn to dance, work-out or just do some form of exercise in order to stay in shape. Always loved her dancing and it’s missed in today’s cinema where every other word has to be profanity. It would be nice to get back to the dance of dancing and singing. Hollyweird might take a look at the wonderful comments posted above.

  76. It never occurred to me before reading this article. I think she’s wearing clothes that cover her neck because it’s supposed to be cold, and to show off her long neck. While I agree she is too thin, it is common on the dancing world, especially ballet for lifts. At 5’4”, she would be considered quite tall. If it was anything like today (and I suspect worse given the time period and body image), a girl is encouraged to be overly thin.

    She’s beautiful and we love watching her dance.

  77. see all in pic of white xmas..heavy red coats..married.hubby want her dressed…Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio
    that subway scene ..break them up…and jealous ones.call her too skinny..dancing keep her thin.as eleanor..soak her feet in one scene and Elainor
    after jump rope scene..show her in chair exhausted.not acting.out of breathe ..

  78. audrey hepburn may die of smoking
    jackie o died of cancer 4 pac a day..both died at 62
    Audrey ate apple and slice of cheese to keep weight down..
    b control pills probably kill vera
    sandra dee.anorexic but anti- depressants and psych ..kidneys..counseling as carrie fisher..too..at 19..get carrie drunk..here comes harrison married two children..if drunk never take advantage of a person..she feel so guilty bc of her drunkenness ..so see as her fault..no..innocence and beautiful.

  79. I do not understand the obsession with her weight. She was an athlete and trained a lot. Her body is just fine, nothing special (beside her beauty and perfect muscle tone), for being her size for a very healthy person, compared to today’s obese society, which thinks, a size 8 is thin. Nobody knows, if she had an eating disorder and if she had, it most likely had nothing to do with her neck, that’s just silly. RIP to a talented, beautiful women, who died to young.

  80. The extremely talented woman died of ovarian cancer, which no you generally don’t get from anorexia or bulimia. She was neither a recluse, also other then a minor stroke which she recovered from had no real health issues , and only retreated from public life after her daughter died of SIDS at 3 months another thing that you can stop blaming on illness. It is absolutely disgusting to see all of you people discounting the real people who knew her because there apparently in denial but beleive you who never knew her and never talked to her can diagnose her eating disorder. Stay in your lane and stop darkening a legends name and legacy for shits and giggles.

  81. Perhaps the fact she was thin made her neck stand out in Technicolor. The rest of her clothes are form fitting. How she could have done those dances if anorexic I do not know. She is gone and she was good. Let it go. I watch white Christmas every year and enjoy it.

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