Even though I grew up loving rock and roll I also favored other kinds of music and I fell in love with Old Hollywood movies. I would absolutely love to watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing and romancing. They just made you have that really all-around good feeling and made you want to dance just like them. In August of 1938, these two legends were featured on the cover of Life magazine.
How many of you remember Life magazine? It provided me with lots of needed pictures when I went to grade school. The Life magazine featuring Astaire and Rogers provided people with a way to look into another world forgetting for a moment about the Great Depression that had overtaken the U.S.
Astaire came into this world as Frederick Austerlitz on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska. He began his showmanship in vaudeville along with his sister Adele. She was his dancing partner at that time. Brother and sister were performing in cities like New York and London in 1917. Once Adele got married to an English lord Astaire move on to Hollywood, California and began working in the movies. His first roles were small the very first one being in the movie “Dancing Lady” in 1933. He was first paired with Ginger Rogers in “Flying Down to Rio” the same year.
Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911, in Independence, Missouri. When she was a teenager she became a champion Charleston dancer and also worked in vaudeville. Rogers performed on Broadway in the musical “Girl Crazy” by George and Ira Gershwin.
When Rogers and Astaire came together they were a perfect match and audiences were entranced when they watched them dancing together. They performed together in ten movie musicals among them “The Gay Divorcee”, “Top Hat”, “Swing Time”, and “Shall We Dance?” Their final movie together was “The Barkleys of Broadway” in 1949. Rogers also performed on Broadway in “Hello Dolly” in 1965 and in London, England in “Mame” in 1969. Together they danced over a span of sixteen years. It was incredible chemistry that brought them together and their musical numbers were based on stage shows giving them the opportunity to dance up a storm in Busby-Berkeley-style dances. When they came together dancing everything was romantic from the music to the songs and to the pair that made everyone’s eyes stay glued to the screen and put stars in them and made people sigh.
She died on April 25, 1995, when she was 83. After his partnership with Rogers, Astaire went on to other partners such as Paulette Goddard, Rita Hayworth, and Lucille Bremer. He received an Academy Award for his performance in “The Towering Inferno” in 1974 for Best Supporting Actor. He died on June 22, 1987, at the age of 88. It is really wonderful to still be able to watch the great dancing partnership of Rogers and Astaire. I’d like to think of them dancing across the stars into eternity.