Vera Voronina — A Ray from Russia (1927) | 🇺🇸

Vera Voronina — A Ray from Russia (1927) |

January 12, 2024

The only American character in “The Whirlwind of Youth” is Russian. Because of her blond beauty and her gay and humorous air, Vera Voronina was chosen to play the role of the wise-cracking American girl in that film.

by Myrtle Gebhart

She had been but three weeks in this country when I met her at the Paramount studio for this interview. She greeted me cordially, smiled, and said that my coming to see her was “Tank you, verai agree-able.” Her English was limited, but she informed me that she could “spik with hands.” As I am not familiar with the three languages in which she is fluent — Russian, French, and German— and as it was doubted whether the lovely white hands would prove articulate enough for the occasion, an interpreter was summoned.

With a naive air of mystery, she led me to a quaint cafe that she said she had “dees-cover” — Madame Helene’s, where all the Paramount lads and lassies meet at noontime. I pretended I had never been there before, and she beamed at her own accomplishment.

I might as well tell you right off what will be evident in a few lines, anyway — I fell for her. She is utterly delightful.

She wore a slip of a green frock, and no jewels. With her head — a mass of reddish-gold ringlets — flung back, and with laughing eyes that darted back and forth from the interpreter to me, she made a naive, girlish hostess, sans pose or queenly airs.

First, however, there was an important item to be attended to. Had they, please, any ice cream? It appeared that they had. This settled, she turned with a sunny smile to the business of the interview. “Thees ize cream — I lofe eet,” she said. When I expressed surprise at finding that she was not the dark-browed, slumberous type that most of us associate with Russia, she explained that she had been born in Odessa, adding that blonds are more common in the north of Russia, brunets in the south. I did not pay much attention to the interpreter’s translations. It was so much more interesting just to watch Miss Voronina. and let the rapid flow of Russian words, couched in a mellifluous voice, fall where they might.

Most interviews with foreigners are, for some reason, ponderous, stilted affairs. But this one seemed shot through with vibrant, quivering sunlight. A joyous spirit tingled in the air. Perhaps Miss Voronina’s youth was responsible, for she is about twenty-three and not at all the woman of the world.

Her history weaves itself into a simple pattern. Her father was a wealthy newspaper publisher in Odessa.

“We have much moneys, but the revolution take it all away. Then we have nozzing.”

Which accounted for her withdrawal from school to do some stenographic work at home, followed by a season of dancing in St. Petersburg. Then she went to Vienna, where a film director, seeing her one day on the street, stopped her and asked her if she would like to do some motion-picture work.

Her first picture was for the Sascha Company, then producing in the Austrian capital. The second was for a concern in Munich. Then Ufa wired a request that she come to Berlin by airplane to discuss a contract. She flew from Munich at one o’clock in the afternoon, arrived in Berlin at seven that evening, signed the contract, and flew back to Munich the next morning.

While on location in Stockholm for an Ufa film, she received a letter from Erich Pommer’s assistant suggesting an American engagement, and on her return to Berlin signed with Famous Players-Lasky.

“Always I want come here. America is dream contree, but no contract mak’ eet deefecul’. Contract mak’ eet nize. So t’rill I am!”

Immediately upon arriving in this country, she was assigned her role in The Whirlwind of Youth. Roland V. Lee’s method of directing that film very much impressed her.

“So quiet ond kind. In Chermany de-rector —”

Giving up the linguistic struggle, she puffed out her cheeks, frowned, scowled, chewed an imaginary cigar, and gave an eloquent bit of mimicry of an irate, expostulatory director.

Though she had been in Hollywood only a few weeks, she had already “done” the beaches, finding the amusement concessions great fun. And she had had an automobile accident, which had occurred on the very first day that she had driven forth in her new car.

“I drive in Eu-rope, but there not so many car. Here, zoom, zip, pop! Eferywhere car. You look all ways at once, or you hit zomesing. I hit zomesing — a — a w’at I hit?”

“Only a truck,” her interpreter provided. “Better luck next time.”

“Not eferybody hit truck right a-way!” She tossed her head. “But my new car that shine — it not shine any more,” she added ruefully.

Vera’s gay personality should find a definite place on the American screen if she is given light, insouciant roles. As a matter of fact, I hear that Paramount is very much excited over her possibilities, and is planning to star her, if her first three or four pictures prove satisfactory.

This stranger in a foreign land is far from lonely or melancholy. It’s not her nature to be so.

She naively deems herself a beginner, and is grateful for any opportunity. And she is enamored of Hollywood.

Hold your breath while I reveal the climax. Her deepest desire is — to live on a farm! Naively, without being at all aware that this is an unusual ambition for an actress, she hoped that soon somebody would take her to visit a farm, and said that already she had begun to save her “moneys” to buy one.

The ice cream was served at about this point, and thereafter I gave up asking questions. It was so much more fun just to sit and watch Vera go after that frozen dainty, her eyes bent upon it, raised only now and then to meet mine in perfect, soul-satisfying contentment.


Scarcely had she arrived in this country when the Russian Miss Voronina was cast as the only American character in The Whirlwind of Youth.

Photo by: Irving Chidnoff (18961966)


Collection: Picture Play Magazine, July 1927