April 12, 1920
|Died||October 28, 2015 (aged 95)|
|Alma mater||College of Music, Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Known for||Dubbing singing voices for famous actresses|
|Spouse(s)||Frank Ellis (1943-1946; divorce)|
Mortimer Fromberg Shapiro (1960-1995; his death)
|Parent(s)||Harry and Lillian (née Libbie Pearson) Kert|
Anita Ellis (née Kert; April 12, 1920 – October 28, 2015) was a Canadian-born American singer and actress.
Anita Kert was born in Montreal, Quebec, the eldest of four children born to Orthodox Jewish parents, Harry and Lillian "Libbie" Kert (née Pearson; originally Perec). She had a younger sister and two younger brothers, one of whom, Lawrence Frederick Kert, 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.
Ellis dubbed the singing voices of such actresses as Rita Hayworth (notably in Gilda, 1946), Vera-Ellen and Jeanne Crain. Twenty-eight years after Gilda was released, 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 (1916-1957) on January 23, 1943 in Tucson, Arizona. They divorced in 1946. She remarried, to neurologist Mortimer Fromberg Shapiro (1915-1995), on July 31, 1960; the couple remained together until Shapiro's death at age 80 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."
She eventually ended her career in 1987 due to that stage fright. A widow, she lived in Manhattan and had suffered from Alzheimer's disease since 2000; she died on October 28, 2015, aged 95, from the disease.
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 cite her surname as Kurt
- Some sources her surname as Kurt
- Montreal Marriage records 1 June 1919
- Who's Who in Entertainment, Volume 1. Marquis Who's Who. April 14, 2017. 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.
- NY Probate information for Estate of Anita Kert Ellis Shapiro
- Getting Colder
- 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
- Anita Ellis on IMDb
- Anita Ellis at the Internet Broadway Database
- Life in Legacy - Week of 10/05/2002
- Arts & Entertainment review of Anita Ellis @ Boston.com