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Mr. Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire, born in 1899, began show business at the age of 5, performing on Broadway and in vaudeville with his sister, Adele. Then he headed to Hollywood where he began a successful partnership with Ginger Rogers for nine movies. By 1976, he had made 33 musical films with esteemed co-stars such as Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Ann Miller, Debbie Reynolds and Cyd Charisse. He also co-starred with the biggest actors of that time, including Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, and Gene Kelly.
Fred Astaire was not only a great dancer - changing the face of the American movie musical with his style and grace - but he was also an actor in many different dramatic and comedic roles in both movies and TV specials. He won multiple Emmys for his work in television. The Towering Inferno (1974) earned him an Oscar nomination. He received an honorary Academy Award in 1950 for his "unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures."
Fred Astaire died in 1987 from pneumonia. With his passing, we lost a true dancing legend. His effortless lightness and grace may never be seen again. As Mikhail Baryshnikov observed at the time of his death, "No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business."
Fred Astaire's Dance Partners
Although famous for his magical partnership with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire also danced with the leading ladies of his time, including Cyd Charisse, Lucille Bremer, Joan Leslie, Leslie Caron, Vera Ellen, Barrie Chase, Judy Garland, Eleanor Powell and Rita Hayworth.
"For ballroom dancing, remember that your partners have their own distinctive styles also. Cultivate flexibility. Be able to adapt your style to that of your partner. In doing so, you are not surrendering your individuality, but blending it with that of your partner."
- Fred Astaire from The Fred Astaire Top Hat Dance Album, 1936
Fred Astaire Films
Fred Astaire starred in 31 musical films. He was famous for his collaboration with Ginger Rogers in the following films:
- Flying Down To Rio (1933)
- The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- Roberta (1935)
- Top Hat (1935)
- Follow The Fleet (1936)
- Swing Time (1936)
- Shall We Dance (1937)
- Carefree (1938)
- The Story Of Vernon & Irene Castle (1939)
- The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949)
Songs Introduced By Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire introduced many classic songs by famous American composers, including:
- Cole Porter's "Night and Day" from The Gay Divorcee (1932)
- Jerome Kern's "Nice Work If You Can Get It" from A Damsel In Distress (1937) and "A Fine Romance," "The Way You Look Tonight," and "Never Gonna Dance" from Swing Time (1936)
- Irving Berlin's "Cheek To Cheek" and "Isn't This A Lovely Day" from Top Hat (1936) and "Let's Face The Music And Dance" from Follow The Fleet (1936)
- Gershwins' "A Foggy Day" from A Damsel In Distress (1937) and "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," "They All Laughed," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "Shall We Dance" from Shall We Dance (1937)