Vera Ralston

Active - 1941 - 1958  |   Born - Jul 12, 1923 in Prague, Czechoslovakia  |   Died - Feb 9, 2003 in Santa Barbara, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Western, Crime, Action, Adventure

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Czech figure skater Vera Hruba Ralston was a runner-up in the 1936 Olympics. Shortly thereafter, she turned professional, arriving in the U.S. in 1939 to headline Ice-Capades Revue. In light of the movie success of skater Sonja Henie, Ralston was wooed to Hollywood by cost-conscious Republic Pictures. She went on to star in 26 films at Republic, few of which made money or took advantage of her skating skills. In addition to her lack of box-office appeal, Ralston wasn't much of an actress (though hardly the "worst actress of all time," as suggested by the reprehensible film "history" The Golden Turkey Awards). Still, the question lingers: Why was the resistible Vera Hruba Ralston kept on the Republic payroll for 17 years? The answer is simple: Studio chief Herbert J. Yates was head-over-heels in love with Vera, eventually marrying her after the death of his first wife. Oddly, few Republic contractees (outside of the curmudgeonly John Wayne) resented Yates' patronage of Vera; most reports indicate that she was a likeable, cooperative young lady who worked as hard as anyone -- if not harder -- when on the set. Unfortunately, her diligence never paid off in a totally convincing film performance. Republic was bankrupted in 1958 by Yates' insistence upon casting Vera in expensive flops, but their happy marriage endured until his death in 1966. After surviving a serious illness herself, Vera Ralston retired to wealth and contentment with her second husband.

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