Forgotten Hollywood: gorgeous Lisette Verea - from the Alhambra Theater to Hollywood

On august 27th 1914, in Buchrest, Romania, Lisette Verea was born, daughter of Hainerik Chaim Veksler Verea and Olga Veksler Verea.

She makes her debut on stage at the age of only 13 at the Majestic Theater in Bucharest. Her good looks and amazing singing voice helped her reach popularity very quickly, and in almost no time she became one of the major stars of The Alhambra, staring in operetta, vaudeville and cabaret.

To understand the context, The Alhambra was the highest rated showplace in Romania. It was a true, american style, star factory, all thanks to the owner, Mr. Nicolae Vlădoianu. Right from the start of this business, 1931, he never kept back from financing the shows: operetta, cabaret, fashion etc, no mather how expensive or extravagant they were, he gave full financial support. 

Lisette Verea - in the movie "A Night in Casablanca" (1946), wearing a dress designed by herself

Her first movie role was in 1932 in the romanian film  "Chemarea dragostei" (The call of love) directed by Jean Mihail. One year later she stars in her second movie "Trenul fantomă" (Ghost train).  In 1936 she appears in one the most successful operetta at the Alhambra -  a modified version of "Dunărea albastră" (The blue Danube). For 60 days in the row, the show ran sold-out. It was one of the most expensive shows ever put on stage in Romania - 650.000 lei (~6.000$, now 115.000$ today). Almost one third of the budget went on the costumes, mostly on the dresses designed by Virginica Popescu. On the right you can see Lisette Verea wearing one of the dresses from the show in a promo photoshoot. 

In 1940 she and her sister Bella move from Romania to USA (New York). She plays some minor roles in various Broadway plays. She raises to fame in 1944 after the stage hits: "La Serva Patrona", "The Secret of Suzanne" and "The Merry Widow". In parallel she followed an old passion - fashion design.

1946 was a year that brought a lot of changes to her life. She co-stars with the famous Marx Brothers in the film  "A Night in Casablanca", all tabloids fell in love with this Hollywood newcomer, putting up headlines like: "Hollywood's newest glamor girl." and  "a flashy brunette who is played with an extravagant flounce by Lisette Verea". 

One of the most itneresting parts is the fact that all the dresses she wore in the film were designed by herself. Her creations was described by Ruth Carson from Collier's Magazine as: "Rumanian Rhapsody - actress Lisette Verea dreams up utterly thrilling dress prints."

On the personal side of things in 1946 she marries textile industries businessman Erhart Ruegg, the remained together untill his death in 1950.

Despite the huge success of the "A Night in Casablanca", she decides to step away from Hollywood.

In 1954 she marries Olympic gold-medalist tennis player Francis Hunter.

Lisette Verea passed away in 2003, on her 89th birtday.

Below are a couple of more press photos from "A Night in Casablanca".

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