The Mystery of Vera West

This page I dedicate to Costume Designer Vera West and the Mystery of her Life and Death. As I find more tid-bits of information I will add it to this page.  It will take a little time so be patient my Darklings.

VERA WEST 1900-1947

Vera West~~Murder? Suicide?

  Now Darklings, how about a mystery? A murder mystery. Perhaps a multiple murder mystery.    

One Saturday evening I was up late, watching a positively juvenile but knowledgeable horror host, Svengoolie. He presents on his program mostly the horror films from the Universal vaults although it seems Universal may have purchased films from other studios as well and is part of the “package” as it were. Last night I was treated to a comedic film titled “The Invisible Woman” its more comedy than horror, but I watched it anyway---why??    

VERA WEST----that is why.    

When I was a little darkling I remember my parents buying their first Back and White T.V. set. I was 4 years old and fortunately they chose an R.C.A. with a good size screen which came in its own wooden cabinet. A sizable piece of furniture, I’ll never forget the excitement when it was being installed, the men on the roof carefully bolting the Antenna to the brick chimney and strapping it to make sure it did not wiggled so we could pull in a good signal.    

It must have set my parents back a goodly amount of money because every week, on Friday my Mother marched to the bank, deposited Dad’s check (with little me in tow), she put some in savings and then at least once a month rain or shine we marched all over our Main Street paying our bills, the Utilities, the Druggist, the Grocer, the Gas Station (we had what was called a ‘station charge’ for repairs on Dad’s 1936 Chevy) and we marched to Franks Music Store, the only place to buy quality records, sheet music, radios, phonographs, pianos and Televisions. For a year we went to Franks to pay off the T.V.

 I was entranced by the magic of those black and white images, and on Saturdays they would show various old films as filler.  As I was growing up I was in love with the clothing on the female leads in the Horror films, all those smart suits and hats, dresses and elegant gowns that were designed by Vera West, sometimes the hat were designed by Lily Dache, just so elegant.  

Everyone remembers the gowns designed by Edith Head, and Adrian, but true elder Goths remember and adored the designs of Vera West, she was the head designer for Universal Pictures from 1927 right up to the early part of 1947.  Although in recent researching I discovered that Ed Ware costumed the men's outfits and never received "on film" credit.  Although in other sources it was noted that Vera would make some modification suggestions in regards to the men's costumes.  

"She designed gowns specifically for the principal female leads; she never won an Oscar for her efforts and had a strange past as well as a mysterious death." This is according to an article written by Derek McCormack.  

 I am going to quote here a portion of an article written by Derek McCormack in that I came across about her.  

“Vera West was born in New York City on June 28, 1900. She attended the Philadelphia Institute of Design, studying dressmaking with Lucile, Lady Duff-Gordon, a couturière with clienteles in London, Paris, and New York. Around the turn of the century, Lucile had made history by staging a live runway show in London. The first fashion show anywhere. A “mannequin parade,” she called it. After graduation, Vera West designed dresses for a salon on Fifth Avenue in New York City, where, in the words of costume historian W. Robert Lavine, “she learned how to get along with rich, often spoiled women who demanded special attention.” West’s stint at the salon was cut short. She committed a crime. She had an illicit affair. She had an illegitimate child.

 This is speculation.

What’s known: in the mid-1920s, she became involved in some sordid, secret scenario that would haunt her late in life. She fled to Hollywood. In 1927, Universal Pictures named her head costume designer. (According to some sources it was to replace the elderly Lucia Coulter.)

According to Dr. Deborah Landis, current president of the Costume Designers Guild in Hollywood, Vera West “only designed the principal women’s clothes in the horror films.” A mad scientist’s fiancee, a mummy’s long-lost love, a zombie’s crush—these were the roles most principal women played. Virginal victims whom monsters menaced. How did West dress damsels in distress?

For day, she favored smart suits in tweed or wool, fringed with furbelows. The Carpathians could be cold. For evening, evening gowns in the style of Schiaparelli and Chanel. Almost all of West’s women wound up wearing something white at night. A negligée. Or a wedding dress.”

~~~~~~~~~~ I am going to digress here but say that she did design the dresses for almost all the Universal Monster movies, although she was not credited in the early films, including the wedding dress in the First Boris Karloff ‘Frankenstein’ as well as the dresses for both the English speaking ‘Dracula’ with Bela Lugosi and the Spanish Language version that was filmed at the same time, she sexed up Lupita Tovar’s night gown to the point of being very risqué. ~~~~~~

  “ According to some sources it appears that she became tired of designing clothing for monster movies and in early 1947, she resigned her role at Universal. She designed a couture collection for a dress shop at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel. She would no longer serve monsters and their maidens. She would clothe actresses. Wives of studio heads.”

~~~~But things took a serious, and mysterious turn during the middle of the year, one day after her 47th birthday she was found dead in her pool…read on Darklings.~~~~

“This is the only way. I am tired of being blackmailed.” A suicide note. Vera West wrote it. Police found her floating in the pool behind her home on June 29, 1947. Her husband, a businessman, was away. From her note: “The fortune teller told me there was only one way to duck the blackmail I’ve paid for twenty-three years…death.”

 ~~~~Something right out of a Val Lewton movie one would think, but there is more~~~

“Who was blackmailing her? Why was she being blackmailed? The New York Times reported that police detectives were investigating West’s case. The Times reported nothing more about it. She was buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her blackmailer was never found. Nor was her fortune teller. Presuming they were two different people. Who knows?”

 ~~~~That is how the article ends, there was more but it talked mostly about her designs in the movies, in researching more I discovered further references to the situation regarding her death, based upon the police and her husband’s statements.

The question of who was blackmailing her, why was she being blackmailed, was never answered. The New York Times reported that police detectives were investigating West’s case and then there was nothing more about it. She was buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her blackmailer was never found. Nor was her fortune teller. Presuming they were two different people. Or were they?

The Associated Press sources in the Miami Daily News (I know Darklings Why Miami, Florida?  I wish I had an answer but it was the only one that showed up on Internet searches) said that her body was found floating in the pool by a guest who was staying in the guest house in her ranch home---it reads:

[[The body of Vera West, a leading costume designer for film studios for 20 years, was found yesterday in the swimming pool at her San Fernando Valley ranch home.

In the house were notes which Det. Sgt. R. P. Kealy said bore the scribbled messages:  "This is the only way.  I am tired of being blackmailed,"  and "the fortune teller told me there was only  one way to duck the blackmail I've paid for 23 years...death"

The body was found early yesterday by Robert Landry, a former news magazine photographer, when he returned to the guest house he occupied on the West ranch.

He told police his attention was directed to the pool by Mrs. West's Scottie dogs, Duffie and Tammie, whimpering at the edge of the oval plunge.]]

According to her husband, Jack C. West, he stated that at the time acknowledged no case of blackmail ever having taken place with Vera!

Robert Landry, the person who found Vera's body, was a news magazine photographer for Life magazine and took the first photo's of the disaster of Pearl Harbor, just a few house after the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, he also saw action on D day on the beaches of Normandy during WWII, by 1944 he was in the re-captured city of Paris and knew photographer Henri Cartier-Breson and worked closely with Life Photo editor John G. Morris and other Life magazine photographers.  He took the iconic photo of beautiful Rita Hayworth as she was kneeling on a bed in a sultry nightgown.  He may have been staying at the West's guest house to recover from the stresses of his war assignments or was on a Hollywood assignment.

Robert, or Bob Landry as he was known, influenced journalist photographer Sandy Colton when they were both doing tours photographing the Korean War in the 1950's.    He went on to help create and maintain Magnum, an agency that helped photographers keep the copyrights of their own photos;  prior to his death in 1954 he asked John G. Morris to take over as CEO of Magnum.

At the time Landry found Vera West's body was he out of town on a free-lance assignment, or coming home in the wee hours from an overly indulging party?  Was this around the time he took Rita Hayworth's photo?   Tragically Landry was killed by stepping on a landmine May 24, 1954 in Thai Binh (Vietnam) while on assignment, so that venue of investigation was cut short.

Another question is why were Vera's dogs loose, it would seem that unless she was drunk or drugged Vera had no reason to go near the pool, but it being July it might have been a very warm evening and she may have wandered out to the pool, to get a cool breeze. 
 It was stated in several other articles that I recently came across, that she was found in her red and blue tiled swimming pool dressed in a nightgown.

It also mentioned that her home was a sprawling  Ranch home complete with a pool and a guest house with a lot of space.  Back in 1947 the original lot on 5119 Bluebell Avenue may have been bigger, and not so densely populated, one can see the current house using Google maps even now one can see a house with a pool and it shows it very crowded but in 1947 it would not have been. 

In fact according to more recent information soon after the case was "closed" Jack C. West had the house and all buildings on the lot bulldozed down, sold the land, and then "vanished" no further trace or information on him since 1947 can be found.

The current house on Bluebell Avenue is not even the original house that Vera West lived and died in, but one built later, possibly subdivided from the much larger lot but with the current house retaining the original address.

Taking into consideration that back in 1947 the lot aka original location was much bigger  it is possible that no one would have seen anyone visiting the West home or even hearing the dogs whining until Landry arrived the next day,  who would have known that Vera was going to be home alone that evening besides her husband and Landry?

Another question that comes up is this, was Vera suffering from delusional paranoia? Police found her floating in the pool in her nightgown behind her home on June 29, 1947. Had she done what director James Whale did some nearly 10 years later, having grown weary of life's woes, did Vera West feel the same way? One is reminded of the fast paced way of life in Hollywood. It's sink or swim, and in this case two very talented individuals may made their unfortunate decisions all too clear.

But in Vera West’s case was it all that clear?

I found an brief article that talks of her death, which gives rises to more questions than answers, it is from the NY Times.

[[ June 30, 1947 San Fernando Valley.

 Film costumer Vera West died in her swimming pool at 5119 Bluebell Ave. over the weekend. She suffered from marital difficulties, but the blackmail to which she alluded in her suicide note was, according to husband Jack C. West, a figment of her imagination. Mr. West claims he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel when his wife took her unfortunate dip, following a bad argument, and in anticipation of Mrs. West’s consultation with a divorce attorney. Assistant county autopsy surgeon Dr. Marvin Goodwin’s initial report was of asphyxia, probably due to drowning, but Dr. Frederick Newbarr, his superior, is refusing to sign a death certificate until additional tests are performed. ]]

And then nothing----Why did Dr. Newbarr refuse to sign the death certificate and request additional tests? Why was there never another mention of Vera’s death? Why was it swept ‘under the rug’?

In brief news clip from the L.A. Times on June 29, 1947 (must be the afternoon edition) it said that her death was being handled by Detective Sergeant R.P. Kealy and the reference into blackmail was being investigated.  According to that source her husband was out of town on a business trip with no reference that he was staying at the Beverly Hill’s Hotel.

In a July 1, 1947 clipping the headline confirming "Withhold Signing of Death Certificate"  "....until a chemical and microscopic examination is completed."   This decision was made by Newbarr after an autopsy was performed and an assistant county autopsy surgeon reported death was due to asphyxia, "probably due to drowning."  Why only "probably"?

It is alleged that Vera West stated to a friend that her health recently had not been good and that following a quarrel with her husband that  Saturday night, stated that she planned to consult her lawyer about a divorce.  No mention is made about who she made this statement to.

Husband Jack C. West insisted through his attorney, that the mention of blackmail was a figment of her imagination.  He stated through his attorney that he was thoroughly acquainted with the financial affairs of his wife, Vera, and there was no evidence that she had been paying black mail.

In the Miami Daily News it states that the notes were "scribbled",  a scribbled note is done when one is writing out ideas, not planning suicide and it was not one note but two notes that were mentioned---even I would have to question that, because if a person is planning suicide it would be written as one note, not two, unless one is sending one note to one person and the other to another person.  But just going by the the brief articles it does not present its self as that.  Except for the fact that they were scribbled and from what was printed in the newspapers these notes seem to be almost like fragments of something larger, a large letter or article or even a possible film script.

It goes further, in a United Press release both the alleged suicide notes were addressed to "Jack Chandler", the police believed it was her way of addressing her husband Jack C. West.  But why Jack Chandler, why not "Jack"?  And was Chandler her husband's middle name?  I have not been able to confirm that.

At the time that she left, Universal was experiencing a regime change, in 1946 it was merging with International Pictures to become Universal-International, and Vera, being ‘old’ or redundant, may have been threatened with termination.  Either that or she had been exhibiting bouts of depression or a form of what would have been called "mania" or she'd been bought off by the "powers that be" that later may have considered her too dangerous to live. 

One of her last films to design gowns for was "She Wolf of London."

There was a lot of politics and disguised mob activities among even the best of the film studios one has to remember.

However that seems to run counter to a remark made by an actress friend of hers, Ella Raines who stated she saw Vera recently in New York and "she was very happy and didn't seem to have any troubles at all."

Ella Raines did several movies for Universal Studios during 1944 including "Phantom Lady" and "The Suspect" where she met Vera West, Raines also appeared in films for RKO, and MGM working with notable actors such as John Wayne, Franchot Tone and Brian Donlevey, later in the 1950's she moved into Television.  She married twice her 2nd husband was Brigadier General Robin Olds, she died in the 1980's of throat cancer.

Vera was involved in designing costumes at Universal since 1927 starting with "The Man Who Laughs", as well as earlier uncredited work, usually as an assistant to the lead designer, it wasn't until a few years later was she finally given a film credit.

Although there is a brief mention that she was hired by Universal Studios in 1924 as a replacement for elderly Lucia Clouter, but that seems to be in conflict with the fact that there are films listing Lucia Clouter as both wardrobe mistress (pre-1928) and costume designer until 1931, so it is possible that Vera West was hired to assist Ms. Clouter who was 63 in 1924, but Lucia could have been released from Universal or was offered a better contract with another film studio because in 1926 Ms. Clouter was listed as working for M.G.M. Studios (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) until 1931.  Ms. Clouter (who was married) died at the age of 75 in 1936.

Vera  was involved with designing the women’s costumes in the James Whale pictures. Including that fluffy little one worn by a very pretty Elsa Lancaster in the opening scenes of “Bride of Frankenstein”.   Sadly none of her designs from the picture have been found or possibly survived.

Vera had assistants working under her supervision; because although we know her primarily for the designs for the Universal Horror films, she also designed and supervised costuming for other films by Universal including the 1937 version of "Showboat".  some of these assistants are Brymer, who worked in the mid 1930's often as an assistant to her, Adele Palmer who started as a sketch artist working with Vera then became a costume designer for Republic from 1938 to 1957, then at Fox from 1957 to 1958.  Other assistants were David Cox, Ernest Dryden, Doris Zinkeisne, Kathryn Kuhn, Muriel King and working with Royer and Irene in 1938 and 1940 for special dress designs for some leading ladies who preferred their works.

Briefly after Vera West left Universal Studios, Grace Houston did the costume designs between 1947 to 1948. In "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" we see several examples of Grace Houston's designs on the two leading ladies and a female extra who appears at the train station asking Costello for her suitcase.  Houston left in 1948 going to other studios and  did not only film but television work, she died at the age of 93 in 2010.

But we still have a mystery that ties Vera, Whale and Ouspenskya, besides the films, what did she and James Whale share?

Whales career years later was almost over, he suffered from several small strokes, for many years people thought his drowning was an accident, not until after the death of his live in lover did a suicide note allegedly written by Whales appeared, but did Whale commit suicide? Or was it made to look that way with his last lover in collusion, remember Whales' lover replaced the live in male nurse with a female non live in nurse, so no one would be there when Whale died.

Was there something that they both knew?

And who was this alleged ‘fortune teller? If there was anyone at all.

It is strange, because considering that Vera also designed the costumes for the 2  Wolf Man pictures she would have come into contact with Maria Ouspenskaya who played the Gypsy Maleva in 1941 and later in 1943.

Before Ouspenskaya worked for Universal, she was a celebrated stage actress (Moscow Art Theater, student of Stanislavski), and a highly-respected, twice-Oscar-nominated film performer for all or most of the majors. She was also one of the tremendously influential acting teachers who introduced "the method" style of acting in America, whose students included John Garfield, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Anne Baxter.

In my research into her and others with Universal it was reputed that Ouspenskaya would have been very difficult to please, sharply critical and highly opinionated. That must have made things interesting between her and Lon Chaney jr., since he came into his acting heritage as a possible successor to his father Lon Chaney sr. who created the make up and characters such as Quasimodo and the Phantom of the Opera. Ouspenskaya would have considered Chaney as an upstart, untrained in the more finesse art of acting.

She would have been a very commanding presence on the set and behind the scenes of any of the Universal films she was involved in, attracting by her very knowledge of acting, a small circle of intimates that she would have had any respect for and this could have included such an accomplished designer like Vera West.

Maria could have learned of Vera's alleged marital troubles, about her many years earlier scandal and offered advice either as an older friend... or as a detached, cynical meddler. She may have had some interest in the occult, most actors do, and as a private joke between them, when Vera designed Maria's gypsy costumes, ‘read’ Vera's grim future with tea leaves, or Tarot cards.

The idea of the "fortune teller" persona might even have been created, one has to remember for such a tiny woman Ouspenskaya had a very powerful personality which could have been hypnotic on the troubled Vera and could  have  taken a dangerous turn as Vera's mental fears progressed.

Considering that Vera was also 47 years old she may have developed a form of depression or paranoia brought upon by menopause, at that time not much was discussed about it, which accounts for many wives and older women being confined to mental institutions or committing suicide. But did she?  We only have her husbands claim that his wife was subject to periods of depression and had been "emotionally upset"   contradicting her friends statement.

Was she suffering from depression caused by menopause and did she commit suicide?

Could she have known something on one of the studio heads at Universal that was dangerous, did James Whale also know this secret as well and kept his mouth shut especially after her death?

Or was her alleged personal secret of something that happened to her more than 20 years before be so horrible that she was willing to pay money to keep it quiet from the rest of Hollywood where it would have ostracized her, like Fatty Arbuckle?  Remember in the written notes she said that she had been blackmailed for 23 years, and 23 from 47 is 24 --- or 1924 when she arrived in Los Angeles and was hired by Universal Studios.

Even though her husband stated that he knew her financial affairs and that there was no blackmail, was he too keeping a secret, their secret?

Getting back to Ouspenskaya, you also have to remember that Ouspenskaya allegedly died from strokes and burns in a fire while smoking a cigarette in bed on Dec 3, 1949.  According to newspaper reports she fell asleep with the cigarette in her mouth.   But did she have a stroke? Not impossible to believe since she was 73 years old at the time. She was getting old, but was she planning to reveal something?   Did she and James Whale conspire to mentally torment Vera West upon someone elses' orders?

And James Whale, after his strokes was he also a danger to reveal something?

These 3 people were all connected in some way at Universal Studios? They all knew each other, what was it that they shared?

Or was West’s husband tired of his marriage and in fear of paying out alimony since she was no longer contracted to a major studio? Was it murder for hire? Was the suicide note planted to appear that she was paying blackmail, but then made to appear that Vera West was not in her right mind, driven to desperate measures because of the stress of an alleged or imagined blackmail?

West's husband, Jack C. West aka Jack Chandler West, what was his business?  Was he a cosmetician, an owner of a cosmetic company, or just a sales man for a cosmetic company?  None of that is made clear.  Was he financially dependent upon Vera' largess and a divorce could financially ruin him?

Had Vera been drugged with some unknown drug slipped into a drink and when she passed out put into the swimming pool to drown? Why was there conflicting reports as to the husband's location at the time of Vera’s death?  Why did the Coroner refuse to sign off on the autopsy report and then nothing more in the newspapers?

Was the coroner bought off or threatened, because after the last article in which it states that the head coroner refused to sign off on the autopsy, suddenly everything is silent.  Why was it swept under the rug?

Was West's husband trying to blackmail her to force her into a divorce settlement or to prevent a divorce?   And what about the argument that Vera and Jack allegedly had prior, was she paying someone to keep quiet about something her husband died?  Was the other scribbled note that mentions the fortune teller part of something larger, such as a hand written script that disappeared from West's ranch home.  Perhaps something that she would have been contracted to design costumes for as a free-lance designer?   Was it part of a script or novel that she was writing?

Again remember in 1947 the property location was not that densely populated so was this a crime of opportunity?  Why did Jack West, once it appeared that the police were not going to investigate further have the house and other buildings on the property bulldozed down and sold so quickly afterwards, and then he just vanished.

And why in the Brunas and Weaver's book "Universal Horrors", is  Vera West's departure from Universal studios and her death so glossed over?

If that is the case then was Whale's and Ouspenskaya's death's merely coincidental?   And Bob Landry, the news photographer, he did not have to take that assignment in Vietnam in the 1950's, his friend John Morris was going to call him to not take the assignment because in 1954 the trouble in Vietnam was to quote Morris "...not our war"  which at the time is correct, the United States didn't become involved until the 1960's.   According to Morris, Landry was asked to, because it had been originally assigned to someone else who suddenly came down ill, and someone suggested to ask Landry to do it by another party, and this other person knowing Landry's sense of competitiveness could be played upon would take the assignment that lead to his death.

But then why was the coroner Dr. Newbarr, quiet after the announcement of future toxicology reports, did someone higher up in the police department informed the coroner to let the matter go or else? If so then that same person must have informed Det. Sergeant Kealey to also let the matter drop or lose his job.

Back then the studios and the mob had some very serious influence with the police department and city hall considering the corruption that was rife at the time;  and they would have also influence the newspapers, especially the Los Angeles Times, owned by the Chandler's who were highly involved with the social and civic society of Los Angeles and perhaps to keep it away from the Randolph Hurst media;   it was not until the 1960’s after Kennedy’s assignation did such an influence begin to wane.

Vera herself is something of a mystery, thee are two conflicting years of her birth 1898 and 1900, there is no apparent record of her maiden name, she was know as Vera West even back when she was learning the trade in New York, and what caused her to quickly leave New York?  Was it something she did or was it something her husband did and that she really was playing blackmail and her husband was helping to cover it up even after her death?  And why the destruction of her house and sale of the lot and to vanish into obscurity.

With more than several avenues of investigation the trail has grown very cold, the confusion of Vera's date of birth and her life before studying dress design, no listing of her maiden name or date of marriage, she was married when both she and her husband left New York to come to Los Angeles, what was her husband's line of work, what cause them to abruptly leave New York, why was Vera's termination at Universal Studios' so hush-hush, why are there hardly and survival of her dress designs, what link did Vera, Ouspenskya and James Whale have that the studio was afraid of, why was the L.A. Police department and its Head Coroner suddenly silent on the cause of Vera's death, why did Jack Chandler West bulldoze down the house after supposedly the West case was closed, sell of the property and then vanish.  Why was Vera's alleged suicide notes addressed to "Jack Chandler"?  Was there someone else she was addressing them too?  And why two 'scribbled' notes?  Usually a person planning to commit suicide would write out a note more carefully, why did it appear 'scribbled'?  Was the handwriting Vera's?  Was the mob involved in some nefarious ring among the movie studios that our three main principals had to die as well as supporting players had to vanish or be silent?

Why? Why? Why?  Questions that beg to be answered that may never be answered.  There is some speculation that the poor wanna be starlet, Elizabeth Short aka the Black Dahlia, may have stumbled upon some underworld dealings and had to be silenced in a manner that would send a warning to someone(s), this occurred in January of 1947, Vera died in June of that same year, was this a message?

If anything it is a plot worthy of a better written Stuart Kaminsky ‘Toby Peters’ mystery. Or something by Ellroy in the “Black Dahlia” vein, twisted, convoluted, reeking of scandal, corruption and murder upon murder.

And speaking of the Black Dahlia, the poor dear is buried not far from where I live and not in Los Angeles as one would think.

Vera West’s design’s for her horror films, musicals, mysteries, dramas, comedies all done at Universal, have been recognized and placed in the Costume Designer’s Hall of Fame, if nothing else her work lives on, captured on film forever, as long as there is DVD recordings, late night movie program’s, Tivo Hulu, You Tube, and Netflicks.

Vera never did receive an award for her clothing designs, although she deserves one, her designs especially the dress she created for Ava Gardner in "The Killers", inspire modern day designers now, even though she never developed a signature style, except in the nightgowns and robes, but perhaps that was her specialty, she could develop, change, innovate and even influence other designers, in many ways she designed "outside the box".  Had she'd lived she would have been right up there with Chanel, Orrey, Schiapaarelli, for now she joins the ranks of Adrian and Edith Head, perhaps not quiet as lofty, but still worthy of note.

It would be nice for some enterprising seamstress to study and capture these designs and offer them as dress patterns for those who sew or can take them to a seamstress and bring her designs to life once again.

And perhaps someday an enterprising “Cold Case” investigator might look into this mystery and see if there is an answer, that is, if the clues have not all disappeared like the ground fog of a Universal  Horror film.


Two of the gowns designed by Vera West, the above dress is worn by Ava Gardner in "The Killers" the 2nd image is an approved sketch for a color Universal Film. 

I hope to include a page dedicated to images of Vera's gowns and any possible sketches.