Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: The Legendary Duo
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are two of the most iconic names in the world of dance and film. Their partnership spanned over a decade and produced some of the most memorable movie musicals of all time. Here’s a closer look at their lives, careers, and legacy.
Fred Astaire: The Dancer and Actor
Fred Astaire was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska. He began dancing at a young age and quickly became a sensation on the vaudeville circuit. In the 1930s, he signed a contract with RKO Pictures and began his career in Hollywood. He starred in a number of successful films, including “Top Hat,” “Swing Time,” and “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.” He was known for his impeccable footwork, his elegant style, and his ability to make even the most difficult dance routines look effortless.
Aside from his work in film, Astaire also opened a chain of dance studios that still bear his name today. The Fred Astaire Dance Studios offer lessons in a variety of styles, including ballroom, Latin, and swing. Astaire himself was a strict teacher who demanded perfection from his students, but he was also known for his kindness and his ability to inspire his pupils.
Ginger Rogers: The Actress and Dancer
Ginger Rogers was born in 1911 in Independence, Missouri. She began her career as a dancer on the vaudeville circuit, and later moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. She starred in a number of films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including “42nd Street,” “Kitty Foyle,” and “The Major and the Minor.” She was known for her beauty, her wit, and her ability to match Astaire step for step on the dance floor.
Rogers was also a talented singer and actress, and won an Academy Award for her performance in the drama “Kitty Foyle.” She continued to work in film and television throughout her career, and was recognized as one of the greatest actresses of her time.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: The Films
Astaire and Rogers starred in a total of ten films together, all of which are considered classics of the movie musical genre. Here’s a quick rundown of their collaborations:
Flying Down to Rio (1933)
This was the first film in which Astaire and Rogers appeared together, although they were not yet the stars. The movie also featured a number of other musical acts, including the famous “Carioca” number.
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
This was the first film in which Astaire and Rogers were the leads. The movie featured the hit song “Night and Day” and the famous “The Continental” dance sequence.
Top Hat (1935)
This film is widely regarded as the best of the Astaire-Rogers collaborations. It features the classic songs “Cheek to Cheek” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” as well as the unforgettable “Isn’t This a Lovely Day” dance number.
Swing Time (1936)
This movie features the classic song “The Way You Look Tonight,” which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The dance sequences are also among the best of Astaire and Rogers’ career.
Shall We Dance (1937)
This film features the hit song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and the famous “Slap That Bass” dance number. It was the last film Astaire and Rogers made for RKO Pictures.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Personal Lives
Despite their on-screen chemistry, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were never romantically involved. They remained close friends throughout their lives, however, and continued to work together on occasion. Astaire was married twice, and had two children, including Fred Astaire Jr., who also became a dancer and actor. Rogers was married five times, and had no children.
Fred Astaire’s Height
Fred Astaire was known for his tall, lean frame and his elegant style. He was actually quite short, however, standing at just 5’8” tall. He compensated for his height by wearing lifts in his shoes and by using camera angles to make himself appear taller on screen.
Ginger Rogers’ Legacy
Ginger Rogers passed away in 1995 at the age of 83. She left behind a legacy as one of the greatest actresses and dancers of all time. She was also a trailblazer for women in Hollywood, and was recognized for her contributions to the industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The partnership between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers is one that will never be forgotten. Their films continue to captivate audiences today, and their legacy as two of the greatest performers of all time lives on.