Just who IS that elegant lady (above) sitting opposite an inebriated Victor Moore, and being nuzzled by the likes of Bob Hope?

Hello, everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, unearthing today one of the comedian’s older comedies, and marveling at the classy-looking actress who portrays his romantic interest.

In past months we’ve discussed many of Hope’s leading ladies.  No other comedian in film history starred opposite so many beauties.

From the 1930s to the 1970s Hope appeared with some of the screen’s most alluring women: Hedy Lamarr, Anita Eckberg, Virginia Mayo, Lana Turner, Jane Russell and, of course, Dorothy Lamour.

Today we thought we’d run a photo of one of Hope’s movie love interests who, though equally glamorous as the others mentioned, did not have a big film career.

Do you recognize her?  A few hints:

— She was born Eva Brigitta Hartwig in Berlin in 1917.

— She embarked on a highly successful ballet career at the age of 12, and later changed her name into something more exotic and Russian sounding.  She was often billed with only one name (her surname.)

— She was spotted in the London stage production of Rogers and Hart’s musical, On Your Toes, by Samuel Goldwyn, who signed her to a movie contract in 1937. She went on to star as a Russian prima ballerina in Warner Bros.’ 1939 movie version of the musical.

— Her first husband was America’s most celebrated choreographer. Her second was the powerful head of a major recording company.

— Her movie career spanned about 10 years.  By the late Forties, she was done with Hollywood.

— She was cast in the female lead in 1943’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, but was replaced by Ingrid Bergman early in the shooting.

— Her venture with Hope dates from 1941, a Paramount film version of a successful Irving Berlin Broadway musical satirizing sleazy politics in a southern state. (The movie won Oscar nominations for set decoration and cinematography.)

— Besides Hope, her leading men included two Georges, Raft and Brent.

— She later directed operas at the Sante Fe (New Mexico) Opera Company.

— She lived a long and creative life, expiring in 2003 at the age of 86.

Give us a shout if you can figure out who our mystery leading lady is. 




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