The Lady’s In Love!—Vera-Ellen & Dean Miller
“Goodbye again,” said Dean Miller. And with a grim expression on his face, he watched his girl climb aboard the plane.
Vera-Ellen was off on still another personal appearance tour. This time she would be away for a month. “It’s not good to be apart so much,” Dean kept thinking, and he wondered how Vera-Ellen might be feeling about the matter.
A few evenings later, he found out. A telephone call came through from Miami Beach. It was Vera-Ellen. “I was just sitting here in the room, watching the waves come in,” she said. “And I thought I’d call and tell you I miss you.”
It was the beginning of a long-distance courtship. Dean called Vera-Ellen in New Orleans. She called him from Washington. He called again in Boston. She phoned from New York. And then she got to Cincinnati. Making an appearance in her home town as a star of “Belle of New York,” was a memorable occasion. It was also her birthday. Standing in front of Norwood High, her Alma Mater, surrounded by the friendly crowd who had come to see her, provided one the happiest moments of her life. And she found herself still thinking of Dean—wishing so desperately that he were with her to share her happiness.
“I’ve never felt this way about anyone else,” she says. In Hollywood, Vera-Ellen never lacked for dates. She would get dressed up for a premiere and a big, glamorous evening with a handsome escort. They’d do the town in style and sometimes he’d toast her with champagne. But once at home, she’d tell her mother, “This just isn’t for me.”
On the other hand, she’d come back from a drive in the Valley with Dean and it was a different story. “We had such a good time,” she’d bubble. “We stopped at an orange juice stand. And then had dinner at the quaintest restaurant and drove down Laurel Canyon Boulevard and . . .” At this point, Vera-Ellen would stop and shake her head laughingly. It’s love. No way around it.
Although Vera-Ellen and Dean Miller have been dating for a year, their courtship has been so quiet that even in Hollywood, where every heartbeat is duly chronicled, reporters were caught off-guard. During the months, speculation continued, coupling her name with those of Rock Hudson, Ernie Byfield, Jr., and Henry Willson, but seldom with Dean. “I saw to that,” Dean says now. “I was unknown and I didn’t want anyone to associate our romance with publicity. If I got somewhere on the screen, I was determined it would have to be on my own—not by hanging onto a girl’s billing and being photographed in night clubs. So nobody knew about us. I don’t think anyone even at our own studio knew. I dated Vera-Ellen because I wanted to be with her—and that is all.”
Although they met in Hollywood, Vera-Ellen and Dean were born only twenty miles apart, on the outskirts of Cincinnati. Dean, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Clifford Stuhlmueller, played basketball at Hamilton High. Vera-Ellen, whose parents, Martin and Alma Rohe, had a music business, was a drum majorette at Norwood High. While in her teens, she went from dancing school to theatres, to clubs, to Broadway musicals and eventually to M-G-M.
It took Dean a war and longer. After Army and college days, he made a name for himself in the midwest in radio and television. A little over a year ago, he decided to vacation in California. However, before his vacation ended, he was signed to a long-term contract at M-G-M.
No hearts throbbed, no bells rang when Vera-Ellen and Dean met in the studio commissary. They didn’t say much, Just “Hello” and “How are you?” and “How are things in Cincinnati?”
Once it was established that things in Cincinnati were all right, there seemed little else to say. “She’s cute,” Dean thought. “And she’s pretty. But she’s too quiet for me.”
“He’s nice,” thought Vera-Ellen, and thought no more about him.
The next time they met, both were attending a group discussion in the office of M-G-M’s dramatic coach. This time, Vera-Ellen had her hair in pigtails and was engaged in a very spirited debate. “She looked so fresh and natural,” Dean remembers. “Just like a girl from back home.”
Love at first date? ‘“We’re too practical for that,” Dean grins. “But I thought, here’s a girl I’d like to see more of. She has all the qualities I’d hoped to find in a girl. My girl.”
They’ve had the same kind of “Cincinnati caution” regarding romance. “At first I moved slowly,” admits Vera-Ellen. “I’ve proven that. If I’d moved faster, l’d have been married long before now. Instead, I’d go with somebody two or three years—then we’d break it off.
“I wouldn’t let people know me too well. I really walled myself in, although even I hadn’t realized how much until I began going with Dean.”
Occasionally, of course, being two stubborn Germans, they’d bicker. Upon these occasions, they would agree not to see one another for several weeks—and to go out with other people. So Dean would spend his time driving past Vera-Ellen’s house and combing the Valley for a home for them. And Vera-Ellen stayed home, knitting a sweater for him.
“It was April 18th,” she recalls, “when he first told me he loved me. We had spent the evening at home and he said it just as he was leaving. Almost as an after-thought.”
Telling the story, she smiles. “On April 22nd, I told him the same. We were both in the business office at the studio when I told him. Which shows you we don’t know where we are or who’s around.”
They expect to be married sometime after the first of the year. “We have some weighty problems, but we’re working them out,” they say.
Their house will be a homespun place in the Valley. Very conservative early American with lots of grass and trees.
“If my career should interfere, I’ll give it up,” says the girl who has a choice role of the year in “Call Me Madam.” “Of course, having been in show business so long, I might have an occasional qualm. But then I would remind myself that marriage is for life. And if I couldn’t, I’d want somebody else to remind me. And I suspect Dean would be just the one to do it!”
With Dean’s triple-threat talents, his M-G-M contract, his experience in radio and television, Vera-Ellen has no fears for their future. “I like the feeling of depending on a husband to take care of me. If he ever should feel that he doesn’t want motion pictures, I wouldn’t be too unhappy. If he ever wants to go back to Ohio, that would be all right with me. I wouldn’t leave Hollywood for anyone else. But if Dean . . .”
Wherever Dean Miller goes—cross her Cincinnati heart—Vera-Ellen will be there.
—BY EVE FORD
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1952