Fred Astaire

Dancer + Actor
Born May 10, 1899

Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer, musician and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. He is particularly associated with Ginger Rogers, with whom he made ten films.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Fred Astaire.


1899 Birth Born on May 10, 1899.
1905 6 Years Old When their father suddenly lost his job, the family moved to New York City in 1905 to launch the show business career of the children, who began training at the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts. … Read More


1915 16 Years Old …  Some sources state that the Astaire siblings appeared in a 1915 film titled Fanchon, the Cricket, starring Mary Pickford, but the Astaires have consistently denied this. … Read More
1916 17 Years Old He first met George Gershwin, who was working as a song plugger for Jerome H. Remick's music publishing company, in 1916. … Read More
1917 18 Years Old The Astaires broke into Broadway in 1917 with Over the Top, a patriotic revue. … Read More


1930 31 Years Old By then, Astaire's tap dancing was recognized as among the best, as Robert Benchley wrote in 1930, "I don't think that I will plunge the nation into war by stating that Fred is the greatest tap-dancer in the world." After the close of Funny Face, the Astaires went to Hollywood for a screen test (now lost) at Paramount Pictures, but Paramount deemed them unsuitable for films. They split in 1932 when Adele married her first husband, Lord Charles Cavendish, second son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire. … Read More
Recently, film footage taken by Fred Stone of Astaire performing in Gay Divorce with Luce's successor, Dorothy Stone, in New York in 1933 was uncovered by dancer and historian Betsy Baytos and now represents the earliest known performance footage of Astaire. … Read More
1934 35 Years Old …  Astaire maintained this policy from The Gay Divorcee in 1934 onwards until his last film musical, Finian's Rainbow, made in 1968, when he was overruled by director Francis Ford Coppola. … Read More
1937 38 Years Old Astaire was still unwilling to have his career tied exclusively to any partnership, however. He negotiated with RKO to strike out on his own with A Damsel in Distress in 1937 with an inexperienced, non-dancing Joan Fontaine, unsuccessfully as it turned out. … Read More


1939 40 Years Old In 1939, Astaire left RKO to freelance and pursue new film opportunities, with mixed though generally successful outcomes. … Read More
1940 41 Years Old His first post-Ginger dance partner was the redoubtable Eleanor Powell—considered the finest female tap-dancer of her generation—in Broadway Melody of 1940 where they performed a celebrated extended dance routine to Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." … Read More
1946 47 Years Old After announcing his retirement in 1946, Astaire concentrated on his horse-racing interests and in 1947 founded the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which he subsequently sold in 1966. … Read More


1950 51 Years Old Both of these films revived Astaire's popularity and in 1950 he starred in two musicals - one for M-G-M - Three Little Words with Vera-Ellen and Red Skelton and one on loan-out to Paramount - Let's Dance with Betty Hutton. … Read More
1952 53 Years Old During 1952, Astaire recorded The Astaire Story, a four-volume album with a quintet led by Oscar Peterson. … Read More
1955 56 Years Old When Daddy Long Legs was released in 1955, it did only moderately well at the box office. … Read More
1958 59 Years Old 1 More Event
Astaire did not retire from dancing completely. He made a series of four highly rated Emmy Award-winning musical specials for television in 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1968, each featuring Barrie Chase, with whom Astaire enjoyed an Indian summer of dance creativity.


1959 60 Years Old Astaire played Julian Osborne, a non-dancing character, in the 1959 movie On the Beach and was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor award for his performance, losing to Stephen Boyd in Ben Hur. … Read More
1975 76 Years Old In the summer of 1975, he made three albums in London, Attitude Dancing, They Can't Take These Away from Me, and A Couple of Song and Dance Men, the last an album of duets with Bing Crosby.
1976 77 Years Old In 1976, Astaire played a supporting role, as a dog owner, in the cult movie The Amazing Dobermans, co-starring Barbara Eden and James Franciscus. … Read More
1978 79 Years Old In 1978, he co-starred with Helen Hayes in a well received television film, A Family Upside Down, in which they played an elderly couple coping with failing health. … Read More
1979 80 Years Old He made a well publicized guest appearance on the science-fiction television series Battlestar Galactica in 1979, as Chameleon, the possible father of Starbuck, in "The Man with Nine Lives," a role written for him by Donald P. Bellisario. … Read More
1980 81 Years Old On June 24, 1980, he was married again, to Robyn Smith (born August 14, 1944), a jockey 45 years his junior, who rode for Alfred G. Vanderbilt II and was herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated on July 31, 1972.
1987 88 Years Old Astaire died from pneumonia on June 22, 1987, at the age of 88. … Read More
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