Today, the 18th of April, a slight woman of 79 years, Elsa Sorensen, suddenly slipped away in a coma due to a tragic bicycle accident. She had lived in Vero Beach for about 5 years.
There are so many interesting people in Vero, and the person sitting next to us in a restaurant or coffee shop could be a famous person with an exciting past.
It would surprise many of the residents here to know who this charming woman was in her early life.
For example, she came to the U.S. from Denmark after winning the title of Miss Denmark. She immigrated with her parents to Vancouver, Canada where she pursued a modeling career, as many beauty contest winners do. She had also considered a career in acting.
One of her modeling assignments in September of 1956 was the coveted centerfold of Playboy Magazine which at that time was still tastefully done but only paid about $500. At the time, American singer Guy Mitchell was performing in Vancouver, and the beauty of this young Danish woman caught his eye and he was soon bringing her flowers to the residence of her parents. But, because of demands of his career, he disappeared from her life for several months.
However, this separation did not end his interest in Elsa. She was surprised when he showed up again and a true romance began. Within 6 months, they were married and now successful singer, Guy Mitchell moved his new bride and her parents onto his ranch in California. His hit record, “Singing The Blues” was the start of a fairytale lifestyle, which took them to England and Australia where he was even more popular than in the States. They traveled together and lived a luxurious and exciting lifestyle.
It was clear that he adored Elsa, frequently inviting her onstage to be introduced to his audience, where they would dance together. One of her favorite dances was the twist and she often performed as he sang the popular, “Let’s Twist Again Like We Did Last Summer.”
Their ranch in California was surrounded by properties of many famous entertainers and they were friends with Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Audie Murphy, Al Martino, and ________________. Elsa was extremely happy in this exciting fantasy--like lifestyle but it would only last about eight years, from 1957 to 1965. Guy Mitchel succumbed to alcohol abuse and he himself became abusive and though she gave him many chances to improve, she was forced to leave the marriage.
The divorce was difficult and unpleasant, but when she was finally free of the man she had once adored , she met Philip Mattingly, an actor and model and when the divorce was finally completed, they married. Elsa and Philip enjoyed a happy marriage over a period of 42 years. Philip was very successful in his career and was at one time the well-known “Marlboro Man.” His love was the ocean and that’s where he was discovered while being a life-guard on the beaches of Ft.Lauderdale. His modeling career took him to many places in the world such as Nassau, Hawaii, Australia and being a very restless person, he and Elsa moved often, living in beautiful homes in elegant surroundings. Many of these places were in Florida; Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale and eventually to Vero Beach. At the time, Vero was a drowsy and uneventful place, and although they loved the quiet condo across from the Village Beach Market, they were too often bored and soon returned to Ft. Lauderdale.
Unable to forget the beauty of the area, they eventually settled in a home in Ft. Pierce, at the intersection of Indian River Dr. and Midway, on the river. It was at this time that Philip became ill and a few years later he died. Shortly after his death, Elsa herself was diagnosed with throat cancer. Now, ill and grieving the loss of her husband, she moved to be near family in Vero Beach. Here, she rented double-wide in Heritage Plantation.
A strong and determined woman of 74 years, Elsa Sorenson Mitchell Mattingly, managed to recover and spent many peaceful days in her community and had several close friends who helped her regain her strength and her love of life. She was quite artistic in her own right, creating beautiful stain glass pieces, did water color of the southwest. She was an avid reader and worked with fabric, interior decorating and sewing.
Eventually, thanks to girlfriends who got her out dancing and enjoying a social life, she found love once again when she met Bob Deniger of Sebastian.