Věra Helena Hrubá competed in figure skating the 1936 Winter Olympics, representing her native Czechoslovakia. She placed 17th. During the games, she met Adolf Hitler, who asked her if she would like to “skate for the swastika.” Věra looked him right in the eye and replied that she’d rather skate on the swastika. The Führer was not amused.
In the early 1940s, Vera moved to the United States, settling in Hollywood, with hopes of using her Olympic notoriety to become an actress. Soon, she was signed to a contract by Republic Pictures. Now using the more Americanized name “Vera Ralston,” she was relegated to small roles, mostly immigrants, due to her limited English. She did, however, costar with such notable actors as Fred MacMurray and John Wayne.
Vera married Republic studio head Herbert Yates, who was 40 years her senior. Yates left his wife and children to marry Vera and began securing roles for her, however, Vera’s acting abilities left a lot to be desired. Studio shareholders sued Yates for using company assets to promote his wife. Yates passed away in 1966, leaving his widow Vera over eight million dollars in assets. She was hospitalized, however, for a nervous breakdown. Later, she remarried and lived quietly out of the spotlight until her death in 2003 at age 83. Reportedly, only two of her films were profitable, though she does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The authors of the book The Golden Turkey Awards nominated Vera for the dubious honor of “The Worst Actress of All Time,” along with Candice Bergen and Mamie Van Doren. They all lost to Raquel Welch.