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Posts Tagged ‘Fred Astaire’

Two for One

You need not choose. Celebrate the birthdays of two lovely ladies of classic film. Both Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck share July 16 as their birthday. Ginger was born in 1911 and Stanwyck in 1907.

Stanwyck had a long career in films and in television. Probably my favorite movie with her is The Lady Eve with Henry Fonda. That’s the one where she and Charles Coburn play a pair of con artists who are out to take the wealthy, but socially anemic Henry Fonda for plenty of cash. Plans go awry and in an attempt to exact revenge, Stanwyck ends up pretending to be her own sister. Henry Fonda doesn’t realize the obvious and when pressed about the unmistakable resemblance, quips, “They look too much alike to be the same.” There’s also Ball of Fire, Christmas in Connecticut, Double Indemnity, and Sorry Wrong Number among many others. How can you really choose a favorite?

Ginger Rogers was quite a good actress in addition to being quite a good dancer. She was in many movies without Fred Astaire (and vice versa), although their names are almost unavoidably linked. She’s very funny in Bachelor Mother and Vivacious Lady, and won an Oscar for her role as Kitty Foyle in the 1940 movie of the same name. And without further ado, the incomparable Fred and Ginger.

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Thursday Thirteen #25
I adore Fred Astaire. I’ve seen lots of his films. I even have a picture of him at my desk. (Yes, I honestly do.) In was inevitable that I would eventually do a Thursday Thirteen all about him. So, here it is.

What is your favorite Fred Film? I’m quite partial to Broadway Melody of 1940, actually.

13 Facts About Fred:
1. Fred Astaire was born “Frederick Austerlitz II.”

2. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska on 10 May 1899.

3. Fred began dancing professionally in 1905 with his sister Adele in Vaudeville. (He had originally begun taking dancing lessons at the same time as his sister to save the price of a babysitter.)

4. In 1930, Fred first met a young lady named Ginger Rogers in New York. They went out on a couple of dates, but that was all. (Fred’s autobiography Steps in Time and Ginger’s autobiography Ginger: My Story each tell a slightly different version of this story.)

5. Astaire married Phyllis Baker Potter on 12 July 1933. They had two children (Fred Jr. and Ava) and remained married until her death in 1954. Phyllis also had a son named Peter from a previous marriage.

6. The first movie to feature Fred and Ginger together was a pre-code film by the name of Flying Down to Rio. This is also the last film that my grandfather ever recommended to me. Take a look at the trailer here.

7. Fred has appeared a couple of times in the Zippy comic strip.

8. Fred was a horse racing enthusiast for most of his life. Perhaps it’s not too surprising then that his second wife, Robyn Smith, was a former jockey. They married on 24 June 1980.

9. According to the IMDB, Fred’s only Academy Award was an honorary one given “For his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures.”

10. Fred’s first sound film (there is some question about whether he did a part in a silent or not) was a small part in Joan Crawford’s Dancing Lady, which he did while he was waiting for Flying Down to Rio to start.

11. Among his many talents, Fred also played the accordion.

12. At the AFI Life Achievement Award Ceremony in 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov said of Fred: “Dancers hate Fred Astaire. He gives us complexes because he is too perfect.”

13. The actual quote, according to Fred, that was uttered after his screen test was: “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.”

Sources:
Astaire: The Man, The Dancer by Bob Thomas
The Biography Resource Center Database

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