ABOUT: Vanita Wade Mercer Vanita Wade, was born Dorothy Elizabeth Kersh on March 27, 1923 in Phoenix, Arizona to Dorothy May [Wade] and Ira Albert Kersh, a salesman. Her mother was an accomplished seamstress and costumer designer, who would eventually move with her daughter to Hollywood to help fulfill Vanita’s dream of dancing in film. As a small child her mother enrolled little Betty in the Gene Bumph Dance Academy in Phoenix, where she studied ballroom, acrobatics, ballet and tap. Bumph specialized in developing children for theater and screen work and staged his recitals at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix. This is probably where Betty, who eventually took the stage name Vanita Wade, was inspired to go to Hollywood to dance in movie musicals. Vanita appeared in numerous stage shows in Los Angeles and toured with the Laurel & Hardy Revue (1940) to 13 cities in the US. Between 1941 and 1948 Vanita danced in more than 24 films, including Moon Over Miami, Rise & Shine and Weekend in Havana, where she met her first husband, Robert “Bob” Tobin in 1941. She worked as assistant dance director in The Powers Girl (1942) and put on ice skates for Monogram’s Silver Skates (1943) and Lady, Let’s Dance (1944). She was pregnant while filming Betty Grable’s movie, Pin Up Girl – so was Betty – and Vanita gave birth to her first daughter, Bonnie in 1944. In support of her country and the war effort she worked at the Hollywood Canteen where she served sandwiches, coffee and donuts, and danced with servicemen who were on their way to the Pacific. Director Walter Lang personally selected and featured Vanita in several of his films, including State Fair (1945). Taken with her vivacious personality Lang cast her for the role of "Bubbles" in the Betty Grable and Dan Daly film, When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948). This was her last movie and her only speaking role. In 1951 she married fellow performer and good friend, Russell “Bud” Mercer of the Mercer Brothers whom she had met during the filming of several musicals. She retired from show business to raise a family with Bud, including daughter Linda and son Russell “Buddy” Jr. She died at the age of 45 of lung cancer on April 20, 1968 in Reseda, California. Vanita loved performing and inspired and supported her children’s efforts in the performing arts. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Vanita was a talented seamstress, and also loved being a wife and mother, PTA president and Girl Scout leader. She was loved by many and is missed by all. - Mini Biography By: Bonnie Tobin Mugford Vanita Wade – Filmography Dancer [1 credit] When My Baby Smiles at Me [1948] Fox “Bubbles” Grable, Dailey State Fair [1945] Fox Crain, Andrews Career Girl [1944] PRC Langford Lady, Let’s Dance [1944] Monogram Belita, Ellison Pin Up Girl [1944] Fox Grable, Harvey, Raye You Can’t Ration Love [1943] Paramount Betty Rhodes The Gang’s All Here [1943] Fox Faye, Miranda, Baker Spotlight Scandals [1943] Monogram Gilbert, Fay, Baker Melody Parade [1943] Monogram Hughes, Quillan Let’s Face It [1943] Paramount Hope, Hutton Riding High [1943] Paramount Lamour, Powell No Time For Love [1943] Paramount Colbert, MacMurray Silver Skates [1943] Monogram Baker, Belita Coney Island [1943] Fox Grable, Montgomery, Romero The Powers Girl [1942] Charles Rogers Asst Dance Dir Star Spangled Rhythm [1942] Paramount Crosby, Hope Footlight Serenade [1942] Fox Payne, Grable, Mature Orchestra Wives [1942] Fox Montgomery, Rutherford Song of the Islands [1942] Fox Grable, Mature, Oakie Son of Fury [1942] Fox Power, Tierney, Sanders My Gal Sal [1941] Fox Hayworth, Mature Rise & Shine [1941] Fox Okie, Murphy, Darnell Weekend in Havana [1941] Fox Faye, Miranda, Payne Moon Over Miami [1941] Fox Ameche, Grable, Cummings