Proud of East Texas: V Ann Byrne

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - V Ann Byrne grew up in Oklahoma, but when she headed for Hollywood after only one semester in college, it wasn't to become a movie star, it was because that's where the best dance teachers were.

"You know, I didn't even think about being in show business, I thought about dancing. That's what intrigued me."

Although V Ann wasn't chasing movie stardom, it looked as though the movies were chasing her. Her very first audition was for the movie version of West Side Story, the musical that had been such a hit on Broadway.

"When I went to dancing school that morning, they said V Ann go over to the studio, whatever, they're auditioning for West Side Story."

When V Ann arrived at the audition, she found literally hundreds of young hopefuls trying out for the musical, some had even come from the cast in New York.

"When I went over there they put us in like groups of 20 and I was in the first group of 20. They said give that guy your name so I gave the guy my name and went back out and they gave us routines and routines and routines. At the end of the day, they said okay if you don't belong to the union you better go join."

V Ann's casting in West Side Story opened all kinds of show business doors for her.

"That got me in the union so I started doing extra work in movies and I danced in three of Elvis Presley's movies. It was a fun job. It was a fun thing to be an extra."

V Ann spent several years performing in Las Vegas, combining her dancing with singing and comedy. She also toured in two of Bob Hopes USO shows and she could easily describe that period as the time of her life until fate stepped in.

"They called me and my grandmother was not well so I flew home and two weeks later she passed away and two weeks later my mother passed away and so I lost all my family then, so I had to come here and take over the dress shop and that really changed my life."

V Ann's mother Mary V, had opened the Mary V Dress shop in Tyler in 1965 and had built it into a highly successful fashion icon. V Ann's show business background has added glamour to the shop and showmanship to its fashion shows.

V Ann sold the shop a decade ago but still is asked for consulting advice.

So whether in entertainment or fashion, V Ann Byrne's life is a life well lived.

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