Belita (I)

as Roberta Leonard, aka Roberta Elva in the movie Suspense

My own actors library
Real name is Maria Belita Jepson-Turner
Also known as The Ice Maiden
Was born at 25 October 1923 in Nether Wallop, Hampshire, England, UK . Died at 18 December 2005, Montpeyroux, France

Exalted by her adoring fans as "Belita, the Ice Maiden", this Hollywoodlady-in-waiting to 'Sonja Henie' , was born Maria BelitaJepson-Turner in Hampshire, England on October 21, 1923. Trained indance not long after learning how to walk (age 2), she went on to studyballet with Sir 'Anton Dolin (I)' . Belita's father was a militaryofficer and mother the daughter of a royal physician to King EdwardVII. The mother was a strong-armed presence when it came to Belita andimmediately geared her daughter towards becoming a star ballerina.

Using skating to build up her overall strength, poise and endurance,ice soon took over Belita's life completely. A remarkably lithe andgraceful athlete, she appeared in the Olympic games of 1936 at the ageof 12(!) and turned professional two years later where she continued tokeep her name, talent and reputation in the limelight. She also spokefour languages and played the violin. After the Norwegian Henie became a major Hollywood commodity with filmextravaganzas being built around her prowess as a skater, it was onlynatural that England's version follow suit. Lovely Belita made herminor film debut as an ice dancer in the Republic Pictures movie Ice-Capades (1941) , alongside other hard-water talents such as'Lois Dworshak' , 'Megan Taylor (I)' and Republic filmstar-to-be 'Vera Ralston' .

Belita's next film, however, put herprominently into the co-starring ranks. Silver Skates (1943) mayhave been a mediocre ice musical soap drama with a number of slipperyangles but she was front-and-center. She followed this with atop-billed role in the lowbudget Monogram Pictures' Lady, Let's Dance (1944) , in which she played under her ownname. Here she's a war refugee/waitress/dancer who replaces the show'sprima donna star at the last minute, and the romantic drama that ensueswith her leading man. In it Belita gets to show off every aspect of herdance capabilities -- ballet, ballroom and, of course, ice.

It was tobe her last movie vehicle on hard water for while Henie had a bigstudio (Fox) promoting her, Belita had only a "Poverty Row" build-up. No contest. Determined to maintain a post-war acting career, Belita decided to setfoot on solid ground with purely dramatic vehicles. Her first was asuspense film aptly titled Suspense (1946) starring heavyweights'Barry Sullivan (I)' and 'Albert Dekker' . Although thisfilm-noir had an ice-skating setting and, yes, Belita does skate, thepicture evolves this time around the dramatic plot.

She hung up herskates while appearing with Sullivan again in The Gangster (1947) , with 'Preston Foster (I)' in The Hunted (1948) , and enjoyed secondary roles in the classicmystery The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949) starring'Charles Laughton' , and the rugged adventure/drama Never Let Me Go (1953) with 'Clark Gable (I)' . Laughtonwent on to utilize Belita on stage in one of his popular revivals of"The Cherry Orchard" (1950). She later went on to appear in theaterproductions of "Twelfth Night," "Ulysses in Nighttown" and "DamnYankees!"Belita's overall career started to wane in the 1950s. All during thistime, however, Belita still was a spectacle to behold on ice,performing in capades, shows and extravaganzas all over the world,particularly in London. After over two decades, she abruptly retiredher skates in 1956 and soon bid Hollywood farewell as well.

She didappear in the second segment of 'Gene Kelly (I)' 's three-partexperimental film Invitation to the Dance (1956) and had a minorunbilled part in Silk Stockings (1957) before she retired. In1964 she came out of nowhere, however, to star in the Argentinian film La terraza (1963) [The Terrace], then was gone again. Divorced from actor 'Joel McGinnis' in 1956, she spent a greatertime in England and later married Irish-born actor 'James Berwick (I)'(aka James Kenny) in 1967. She opened a garden centre in West London,and subsequently retired for the most part to the south of France whereshe remained out of the public eye. Her second husband died in Londonfrom natural causes in 2000.

She had no children by either husband andpassed away in France on December 18, 2005, at age 82. .

There is some small facts about Belita (I):
  • In Hollywood at age 18, she spent five years under contract to Allied Artists. Her salary was reportedly $2,000 a week, all of it taken by her mother because it was against the law to pay minors.
  • Also did underwater swimming and is credited as being the first to do underwater ballet.
  • Was taught mime by 'Marcel Marceau (I)' .
  • Belita later claimed to have been "forced" into entertainment at the age of two by her show business-oriented mother, who had herself once been a figure skater. Initially her mother wanted her to become a ballet dancer and only put her on the ice in order to improve her poise.
  • At the age of just 12, she was selected for the Olympic games skating contest at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Belita won 16th place in the competition, which was won by none other than 'Sonja Henie' . In 1937 Belita took fourth place in the British figure skating championships.
  • During the 1940's she was described as one of Hollywood's top box office stars and appeared in around 10 highly profitable low budget productions.
  • She claimed to have been forced into show business at the age of two by her mother who had herself been a figure skater.
  • She was prepared to try her hand at anything and by the time she was 20 could speak four languages, paint, sing, dance, play the violin and piano, fence, box and wrestle, cook, sew, knit and milk a cow.
  • She competed in the ice skating competition at the 1936 Winter Olympics, held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. She came in 16th place - the gold medallist was her later Hollywood rival 'Sonja Henie' .
  • She skated for Great Britain in the 1936 Olympics.
  • Common misinformation about her second husband: he was Irish-born actor 'James Berwick' (1929-2000), who sometimes went by his birth name James Kenny. The couple married in 1967 and ended after his passing in 2000. Belita was never married to actor 'James Kenney (I)' (1930-1982), who, by sheer coincidence, was christened Kenneth Berwick.
Also look some video clip about Belita (I):
There is the list of movies, where Belita (I) was taked part:
1 Suspense movie Suspense 1946 as Roberta Leonard, aka Roberta Elva
2 The Man on the Eiffel Tower movie The Man on the Eiffel Tower 1949 as Gisella Heurtin
3 Whats My Line movie Whats My Line 1951 as Herself - Celebrity Challenger
4 A Good Idea: Son! movie A Good Idea: Son! 1953 as Herself
5 Ice-Capades movie Ice-Capades 1941 as Ice Capades Skater
6 Invitation to the Dance movie Invitation to the Dance 1956 as The Femme Fatale in 'Ring Around the Rosy'
7 La terraza movie La terraza 1963 as Belita
8 Lady, Lets Dance movie Lady, Lets Dance 1944 as Belita
9 Never Let Me Go movie Never Let Me Go 1953 as Valentina Alexandrovna
10 Screen Snapshots: Holiday in Las Vegas movie Screen Snapshots: Holiday in Las Vegas 1947 as Belita
11 Silk Stockings movie Silk Stockings 1957 as Vera
12 Silver Skates movie Silver Skates 1943 as Belita
13 The Gangster movie The Gangster 1947 as Nancy Starr
14 The Hunted movie The Hunted 1948 as Laura Mead
15 Erskine Johnsons Hollywood Reel movie Erskine Johnsons Hollywood Reel 1949 as Herself
16 Face the Music movie Face the Music 1953 as Herself
17 The Ed Wynn Show movie The Ed Wynn Show 1949 as Herself
There is the list of some articles of Belita (I):
  • "Daily Telegraph" (UK), 22 December 2005, Iss. 46823, pg. 25, "Belita Jepson-Turner (obituary)"
There is the list of some printed articles of Maria Belita Jepson-Turner:
  • "Yank" (USA), 22 September 1944
The image of Maria Belita Jepson-Turner was on the covers of these magazines:
  • "Picture Show" (UK), 13 January 1945
There is the list of some quotes of Belita (I):
  • I hated the ice. I hated the cold, the smell, everything about it. I only did it for the money. - upon her retirement from skating in 1956
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