Anita Kert Ellis
|Anita Kert Ellis|
April 12, 1920 (age 97)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Alma mater||College of Music, Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Known for||Singing on old-time radio programs|
|Spouse(s)||Frank Ellis (1943-1946; divorce)
Mortimer Fromberg Shapiro (1960-1995; his death)
|Parent(s)||Harry and Lillian Pearson Kurt|
Anita Kurtwas born to Orthodox Jewish parents, Harry and Lillian (née Pearson; originally Peretz) Kurt, the eldest of four children. She had two younger sisters and a brother, Lawrence Frederick Kurt, who became actor/singer Larry Kert (1930–1991). The family moved to Hollywood when she was nine years old. She graduated from Hollywood High School in 1938 and attended the College of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ellis became a naturalized United States citizen in 1950.
Twenty-eight years after Gilda came out, entertainment writer Rex Reed reminisced in print about Ellis's voice: "I fell in love with Anita Ellis when I was 8 years old. ... Only I didn't know she was Anita Ellis, I thought she was Rita Hayworth. ... That was the sexiest voice in 1946, and it kept turning people on for years ..."
In 1941, she joined WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a singer. Billed as Anita Kurt, she was a regular on Open House (also known as The Ona Munson Show), The New Jack Carson Show, Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou.
Billed as Anita Ellis, she was also a regular on The Charlie McCarthy Show:72 and The Jack Carson Show.:169 She was a regular guest on The Red Skelton Show. (Two sources list Ellis as one of the vocalists on Skelton's show, without the "guest" modifier.):282:545
Ellis married U.S. Army Lt. Frank Ellis on January 23, 1943 in Tucson, Arizona. They divorced in 1946. (Colonel Ellis died in San Diego on December 18, 1957 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.) She remarried, to Mortimer Fromberg Shapiro (a neurologist), on July 31, 1960; the couple remained together until Shapiro's death on June 6, 1995. Both unions were childless.
She "traveled through the wilderness of Africa and the Himalayas, and taught nature studies at the American Museum of Natural History." In the 1950s, Ellis stopped performing while she underwent psychoanalysis. She returned to professional singing with performances in nightclubs and a recording contract with Epic Records. In 1957, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen wrote: "Anita Ellis ... has surprised everyone with her new jazz singer style. She gives her analyst credit for the New Sound."
A newspaper article in 1979 reported that Ellis had suffered from stage fright for more than 25 years. Ellis described her condition as "not just stage fright. It's more than that." She added: "It's really crippling. It's kept me from my own gifts. It just stops me cold. I don't sing."
Ellis had a pilot's license and flew her own plane for pleasure.
She performed in the following films:
- Dancing Co-Ed (1939)
- Babes in Arms (1939)
- Forty Little Mothers (1940)
- Strike Up the Band (1940)
- The Joe Louis Story (1953)
- Pull My Daisy (1959)
- Some sources mistakenly indicate she was born with the surname "Kert"
- Who's Who in Entertainment, Volume 1. Marquis Who's Who. 1989. p. 181.
- Family Tree of Anita Kert, cousinsconnection.com; accessed May 4, 2016.
- "Radio Mirror". MacFadden Publications. 1946. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "Stage fright has plagued singer for over 25 years". The Kokomo Tribune. Kokomo, Indiana. Associated Press. March 18, 1979. p. 35. Retrieved May 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- O'Brien, Gerard W. (July 25, 2006). "The Heat is On... Quinn Lemley's Musical Journey as Rita Hayworth". jazzreview.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- Reed, Rex (December 11, 1974). "Royal Entertainment: Rex Reed". Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. Colorado Springs, Colorado. p. 58. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition. McFarland & Company, Inc.; ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4, pg. 498.
- "Air Ya Listenin?". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. Mason City, Iowa. June 2, 1943. p. 2. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc.; ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4, pg. 337.
- "Miss Kurt wed secretly". The Lincoln Star. Lincoln, Nebraska. International News Service. March 14, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Anita Stops 'Ghosting'". The Courier News. Blytheville, Arkansas. NEA. February 18, 1957. p. 7. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kilgallen, Dorothy (August 6, 1957). "The Voice of Broadway". Pottstown Mercury. Pottstown, Pennsylvania. p. 4. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Profile, Nysocialdiary.com; accessed April 14, 2016.
- Profile, Oldies.com; accessed April 14, 2016.
- Emery, Fred (January 15, 1946). "On the Air: Skelton Vocalist". Delphos Daily Herald. Ohio, Delphos. p. 5. Retrieved May 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Anita Ellis: For the Record TV documentary
- Rita Hayworth "singing" Put the Blame on Mame in Gilda (voice doubling by Anita Ellis)
- Film Reference biography
- IMDb bio
- Anita Kert Ellis at the Internet Broadway Database
- Life in Legacy - Week of 10/05/2002
- Arts & Entertainment review of Anita Ellis @ Boston.com