Vera Hruba Ralston, the Czech-born ice-skating star who was married to the head of Republic Pictures, Herbert Yates, has died at the age of 79 of cancer.
Her real name was Vera Hruba and she was a featured attraction with the Ice Capades after she had skated in the 1936 Olympics representing her country, Czechoslavokia. Yates saw the Ice Capades and was taken with her and produced The Ice Capades and followed it up a year later with Ice Capades Revue. In 1943, she signed a long-term contract with Republic Pictures where she became Yate's protege and later his wife. The sixty-some Yates took a consuming interest in making the twenty-some Vera Hruba into a star. She was to be Republic's answer to 20th Century Fox's Sonja Henie. That never happened. Since her name was difficult for Americans to pronounce, she added the last name of "Ralston" taken from the name of a popular breakfast cereal. Eventually she became known as Vera Ralston. Although Yates lavished money and attention on her films and career, often teaming her with stars like John Wayne, her movies fared poorly at the box office. She had married Yates in 1952 and retired from the screen in 1958, the same year that Yates was deposed from the studio in a proxy fight. She remained with Yates until his death in 1966 and inherited half of his 10 million dollar estate. She was married again to Charles Alva in 1973 and remained with him until her death.
Gone too soon...