Anita Kert Ellis

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Anita Kert Ellis
Born Anita Kurt
April 12, 1920 (1920-04-12) (age 97)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Nationality American
Alma mater College of Music, Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation Singer
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 Kert Ellis (born Anita Kurt; April 12, 1920, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) is a Canadian-born American singer and actress.

Early years[edit]

Anita Kurt[1]was born to Orthodox Jewish parents, Harry and Lillian (née Pearson; originally Peretz) Kurt, the eldest of four children.[2] She had two younger sisters and a brother, Lawrence Frederick Kurt, who became actor/singer Larry Kert (1930–1991).[3] The family moved to Hollywood when she was nine years old. She graduated from Hollywood High School in 1938[4] and attended the College of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio.[5]

Ellis became a naturalized United States citizen in 1950.[4]

Voice doubling[edit]

Ellis dubbed the singing voices of such actresses as Rita Hayworth (notably in Gilda, 1946), Vera-Ellen and Jeanne Crain.[6]

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 ..."[7]


In 1941, she joined WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a singer.[5] Billed as Anita Kurt, she was a regular on Open House (also known as The Ona Munson Show),[8] The New Jack Carson Show,[9] Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou.[10]

Billed as Anita Ellis, she was also a regular on The Charlie McCarthy Show[10]:72 and The Jack Carson Show.[10]:169 She was a regular guest on The Red Skelton Show.[citation needed] (Two sources list Ellis as one of the vocalists on Skelton's show, without the "guest" modifier.)[10]:282[8]:545

Personal life[edit]

Ellis married U.S. Army Lt. Frank Ellis on January 23, 1943 in Tucson, Arizona.[11] They divorced in 1946.[5] (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.[citation needed]

She "traveled through the wilderness of Africa and the Himalayas, and taught nature studies at the American Museum of Natural History."[7] 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.[12] 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."[13]

Later years[edit]

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."[5] She added: "It's really crippling. It's kept me from my own gifts. It just stops me cold. I don't sing."[5]

She eventually ended her career in 1987 due to that stage fright. A widow, she lives in Manhattan and suffers from Alzheimer's disease.[14][15]


Ellis had a pilot's license and flew her own plane for pleasure.[16]


She performed in the following films:


  1. ^ Some sources mistakenly indicate she was born with the surname "Kert"
  2. ^ Who's Who in Entertainment, Volume 1. Marquis Who's Who. 1989. p. 181. 
  3. ^ Family Tree of Anita Kert,; accessed May 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Radio Mirror". MacFadden Publications. 1946. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "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  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ O'Brien, Gerard W. (July 25, 2006). "The Heat is On... Quinn Lemley's Musical Journey as Rita Hayworth". Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Reed, Rex (December 11, 1974). "Royal Entertainment: Rex Reed". Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. Colorado Springs, Colorado. p. 58. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ a b Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition. McFarland & Company, Inc.; ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4, pg. 498.
  9. ^ "Air Ya Listenin?". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. Mason City, Iowa. June 2, 1943. p. 2. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ a b c d 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.
  11. ^ "Miss Kurt wed secretly". The Lincoln Star. Lincoln, Nebraska. International News Service. March 14, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ "Anita Stops 'Ghosting'". The Courier News. Blytheville, Arkansas. NEA. February 18, 1957. p. 7. Retrieved May 4, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ Kilgallen, Dorothy (August 6, 1957). "The Voice of Broadway". Pottstown Mercury. Pottstown, Pennsylvania. p. 4. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  14. ^ Profile,; accessed April 14, 2016.
  15. ^ Profile,; accessed April 14, 2016.
  16. ^ Emery, Fred (January 15, 1946). "On the Air: Skelton Vocalist". Delphos Daily Herald. Ohio, Delphos. p. 5. Retrieved May 6, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]