Vera Zorina

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b. Eva Brigitta Hartwig, 2 January 1917, Berlin, Germany, d. 9 April 2003, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Although born in Germany, Zorina’s parents were Norwegian. She began dancing professionally as a…
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Artist Biography by

b. Eva Brigitta Hartwig, 2 January 1917, Berlin, Germany, d. 9 April 2003, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Although born in Germany, Zorina’s parents were Norwegian. She began dancing professionally as a small child and at the age of 12 was in a Max Reinhardt production in Berlin of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 1933 she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, appearing at Covent Garden in London and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She then turned to musical comedy and appeared in London’s West End in Samuel Goldwyn’s 1937 production of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s On Your Toes. Goldwyn then put her into his 1938 film, The Goldwyn Follies. Also in 1938 she played the lead in Rodgers and Hart’s I Married An Angel on Broadway. The following year, she appeared in the film version of On Your Toes, and was then on Broadway for Louisiana Purchase (1940), making the film version in 1941. Other films she made were Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), which featured just about everyone who was on Paramount’s payroll at the time, and had Zorina performing ‘That Old Black Magic’ with Johnny Johnston, and Follow The Boys (1944).

In 1938 Zorina had married ballet choreographer George Balanchine, who was responsible for her dance routines in all of her shows. She next appeared on Broadway in Dream With Music (1944); the show failed and so did the marriage. Divorced in 1946, Zorina planned to return to the ballet but met with limited success and after appearing in a 1954 Broadway revival of On Your Toes made few more public performances. In 1946 Zorina married Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records; one of their two sons, Peter Lieberson, is a composer. Thereafter, she appeared occasionally in public, often as narrator to works of contemporary classical music. Living in New Mexico, she was for some years director of operatic productions in Santa Fe and in the 70s was also director of the Norwegian Opera. Also in the 70s, she produced records for Columbia (CBS), using the name Brigitta Lieberson, before going into retirement.