HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 1— Vera-Ellen, who danced across the screen with such stars as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly during the golden era of Hollywood musicals, died of cancer at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunday. She was 55 years old.
Vera-Ellen's career began in her teens, when she won a radio talent competition. She went on to star on Broadway and in such classic films as ''White Christmas'' with Bing Crosby and ''On the Town'' with Mr. Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
She was bor n Vera-Ellen Rohe in Cincinnati, with a hyphen in her name because her mother ''had a dream and saw that name in lights,'' according to A.C. Lyles, a Paramount producer and longtime friend. ''When she wa s a small girl she was rather frail and studied dancing to build up her body.''
As a teen-ager she won the Major Bowes Amateur Hour and toured New York theaters, dancing for $50 a week in the late 1930's. She also toured with the Ted Lewis Band and eventually broke into Broadway musicals, dancing with Ray Bolger in ''By Jupiter'' in 1942 and in the revival of ''A Connecticut Yankee'' in 1943. She was noticed in 1943 by Samuel Goldwyn, who started her on her film career. Last Film in 1957
Goldwyn teamed her with Danny Kaye in ''Wonder Man.'' She also did ''The Kid From Brooklyn'' with Mr. Kaye. She and and Mr. Kelly danced a famous sequence to ''Slaughter on Tenth Avenue'' in the film ''Words and Music.''
With Mr. Astaire she did ''Three Little Words'' and ''The Belle of New York.'' She also appeared in ''Call Me Madam.'' Her last picture, in 1957, was ''Let's Be Happy,'' with Tony Martin.
Vera-Ellen was married in 1954 to Victor Rothschild, an oilman; they were divorced in 1966. Since then she had lived in seclusion in the Hollywood Hills.
The funeral service will be private. A memorial service is planned for next Tuesday at the Westwood Memorial Park and Mortuary...