Fred Astaire (1899 - 1987)

Biography

Fred Astaire was born on May 10, 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska. His first stage experiences came in a brother/sister act with his sister Adele. Together they played the vaudeville circuit and advanced to productions on Broadway and in London. The partnership broke up with Adele's marriage in the early 30s.

Astaire's famous partnership with Ginger Rogers started with a minor role in Flying Down to Rio. Astaire and Rogers would go along to make ten films together, many of which are considered classics of the genre. Astaire insisted that all dance sequences be filmed with a stationary camera in a single shot. This was a marked contrast from the style of the times in which aerial shots, quick takes, and zooms were used to enhance (and sometimes detract!) from the dance. Astaire would famously quip, "Either the camera will dance, or I will."

At the end of the 30s, the Astaire/Rogers partnership broke up and Astaire went on to make a series of classic films, including Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby, Easter Parade with Judy Garland, and Royal Wedding with Jane Powell.

In later years, Astaire focused more on straight acting roles. He received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting actor role in The Towering Inferno.

Fred Astaire died on June 22, 1987, leaving behind the legacy of being arguably the greatest dancer of the 20th century.

Career Highlights

Top Hat ... (1935)
Swing Time ... (1936)
Holiday Inn ... (1942)
Easter Parade ... (1948)
Royal Wedding ... (1951)
Finian's Rainbow ... (1968)
The Towering Inferno ... (1974)

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Listen Up

Fred Astaire's prowess as a singer is overshadowed by his unequaled artistry in dance; however many of his contemporaries admired Astaire's lyricism and phrasing. Irving Berlin felt him to be the equal of Jolson or Crosby. The clip below comes from the song Ev'ry Night at Seven from Royal Wedding.

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In Focus

Fred Astaire's most famous partner was Ginger Rogers, but the truth is that he could make almost anyone look good. View the clip below from Royal Wedding where his partner was ... a hat rack.

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