Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Fred Astaire

10 - Fred-Astaire-1899-1987

Fred Astaire

May 10, 1899, Omaha, Nebraska – June 22, 1987, Los Angeles, California


Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer, musician and actor. He is best known for a number of highly successful musical comedy films in which he starred with Ginger Rogers. He is regarded by many as the greatest popular-music dancer of all time.

Fred Astaire studied dancing from the age of four, and in 1906 he formed an act with his sister, Adele, that became a popular vaudeville attraction. The two appeared briefly in the Mary Pickford film Fanchon the Cricket (1915) and made their Broadway debut in Over the Top (1917–18). They achieved international fame with stage hits that included For Goodness Sake, Funny Face, and The Band Wagon. When Adele retired after marrying Lord Charles Cavendish in 1932, Astaire made a screen test, receiving an unencouraging verdict from executives: “Can’t act, can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little”.

Fred Astaire’s Famous Ceiling Dance

He was nevertheless cast as a featured dancer in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production Dancing Lady, which starred Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and the Three Stooges.

Since 1933 Astaire was paired with Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat and Swing Time…

The Last Dance – Fred & Ginger in Swing Time 1936

His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films, several award winning television specials, and issued numerous recordings. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.

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