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ZORINA by Vera Zorina



Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

An old-fashioned celebrity memoir--a dignified and charming story told by someone who had an interesting life filled with interesting people. Born Brigitta Hartwig in Berlin in 1917, the author was renamed Vera Zorina when she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at 17. During the next decade, her performing encompassed ballet and Shakespeare, Broadway and Hollywood, and her successes included starring roles in On Your Toes, The Goldwyn Follies, I Married an Angel, and Louisiana Purchase. In her international career, she seems to have met almost everyone who was anyone in show business and the arts. She sketches fascinating impressions of Sam Goldwyn, Kyra Nijinsky, Igor Stravinsky, and Orson Welles. Two great choreographers are naturally portrayed in much greater depth: Leonide Massine, with whom she had a love affair during her two years with the Ballet Russe; and George Balanchine, whom she married in 1938. Zorina's affectionate recollections of Balanchine--and especially the paragraphs following the description of their wedding--easily equal any of the tributes written since his death. Without giving her syndrome the modern name of bulimia, she writes about the binging and purging which afflicted her during the years of her greatest successes. She also writes with candor about being a celebrated beauty, and includes the plusses and minuses of her blonde good looks--from Rodgers and Hart selecting her on fight for the angel role in their hit musical to Marlene Deitrich making a pass. This book takes her up to age 29, when she divorced Balanchine, remarried and began raising a family. A coda describes her work with Balanchine on Persephone, during the New York City Ballet's 1981 Stravinsky Festival, and Balanchine's death the following year.