Fred Astaire
Dancer, actor
Fred Astaire
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.
Biography
Fred Astaire's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Fred Astaire
News
News abour Fred Astaire from around the web
Ballroom And Latin Dance Lessons For Children - Westchester.com
Google News - over 5 years
Mamaroneck, NY - The Fred Astaire Dance Studio Mamaroneck will offer Ballroom & Latin dance lessons for children ages 9-16 this Fall, starting September 7th 2011. Fred Astaire Dance Studio Mamaroneck will have special children's Ballroom and Latin
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REVIEWED: Chambers and Strallen shine in Top Hat - Biggleswade Today
Google News - over 5 years
Seventy-six years after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced their way across the silver screen and into the hearts of 1930s cinema-goers, the comedy musical Top Hat has been revived for the stage, writes Alan Wooding. And with 2008 Strictly Come
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Top Hat puts on the style at MK Theatre - MK News
Google News - over 5 years
More than 75 years since the RKO movie of Irving Berlin's greatest dance musical starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers smashed all box-office records, the stage adaptation by Matthew White and Howard Jacques has had its world premiere in Milton
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Two Brookfield Dancers Take 1st Place in San Juan - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
Ingrid Totten and Mary Miller, with their instructors Andy Dabbert and Elmar Schmidt from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Brookfield, reigned supreme at the Fred Astaire World Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 24. Competing in both Smooth
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Hotel memories sought for book - Herald Scotland
Google News - over 5 years
Its regular guests famously included Hollywood's leading lights, such as Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Vivien Leigh, Frank Sinatra, Laurel and Hardy, as well as John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill and the Queen. Formerly the Central Hotel, the property was
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Connect, dance and grow with Fred Astaire Dance Studios - InsideHalton.com
Google News - over 5 years
Connect, dance and grow with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The elegance, passion and joy of ballroom dancing was displayed by Fred Astaire Dance Studio staff and students at the Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival last weekend. NORTH OAKVILLE TODAY - Dance
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Inspirational CD by Marie really inspires - Deseret News
Google News - over 5 years
They say Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers complemented each other perfectly. He gave her class and she made him sexy. As a brother and sister act, Donny and Marie Osmond expand each other's range as well
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book review—Music Makes Me: Fred Astaire And Jazz - Indie Wire (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
So much has been written about the incomparable Fred Astaire, one might properly wonder what is left to say. In this scholarly book, music professor Decker answers that question with cogent analyses of
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Imagining America - Irish Central
Google News - over 5 years
My desire to come to America was fueled by those movies, by the glamour of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and the talent of Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly. And, of course, Clark Gable, who was my mother's favorite. And when I did come to America “for the
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He Just Had to Move - Wall Street Journal
Google News - over 5 years
Fred Astaire chafed at his public image as a musical matinee idol. In one 1959 television special, he appears in an old-fashioned top hat and tailcoat—the very garb that was his cinema signature—but makes a point of telling the
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First clip of Meryl Streep as 'The Iron Lady' - Entertainment Weekly
Google News - over 5 years
There's a story about Fred Astaire during one of his first auditions for studio execs. Their terse comments went as follows: “Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances.” The first glimpses of Margaret Thatcher in the biopic The Iron Lady
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Record Numbers Recorded From 2011 Dancing With The Stars Chattanooga - The Chattanoogan
Google News - over 5 years
The local stars and talented Fred Astaire professionals displayed moves never seen before in the competition and the audience responded with cheers and applause regardless of the absence of the event's guest star, Maksim Chmerkovskiy
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Brogues step back into the shopper's sole as brown shoe sales rocket - Daily Mail
Google News - over 5 years
Men first embraced the brown shoe 60 years ago, when snappy dressers such as Cary Grant and Fred Astaire wore brown shoes with grey trousers. But that changed in the 1960s when businessmen adopted the black shoe as uniform. And sales of dwindled to an
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Debbie Reynolds compares Utah dancer Tadd Gadduang to Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire - Salt Lake Tribune (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Guest judge/Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds compared Gadduang to Fred Astaire and her "Singing In the Rain" co-star, Gene Kelly. "You were just as wonderful as they" were, she said. Of course, Guaddang and Casanova also got heaps of praise from the
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Fast Fred's winner a bear necessity - The Australian
Google News - over 5 years
TRY this quick quiz: What year did Fred Astaire win the Australian Grand Prix? (For younger readers Fred Astaire was the Lady Gaga of the time.) We'll give you the answer later on. Meantime let's look at why the US motor industry is coming back from
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Fred Astaire
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1987
    Age 87
    Astaire died from pneumonia on June 22, 1987, at the age of 88.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly before his death, Astaire said: "I didn't want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was, thank you Michael"—referring to Michael Jackson. He was interred in the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California. One last request of his was to thank his fans for their years of support. Astaire's life has never been portrayed on film. He always refused permission for such portrayals, saying, "However much they offer me—and offers come in all the time—I shall not sell." Astaire's will included a clause requesting that no such portrayal ever take place; he commented, "It is there because I have no particular desire to have my life misinterpreted, which it would be." Performances with *Ginger Rogers (10), **Rita Hayworth (2), ***Bing Crosby (2), ****Vera-Ellen (2), *****Cyd Charisse (2)
  • 1980
    Age 80
    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.
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  • 1979
    Age 79
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Astaire asked his agent to obtain a role for him on Galactica because of his grandchildren's interest in the series. This episode marked the final time that he danced on screen. His final film role was the 1981 adaptation of Peter Straub's novel Ghost Story. This horror film was also the last for two of his most prominent castmates, Melvyn Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Astaire was a virtuoso dancer, able to convey light-hearted venturesomeness or deep emotion when called for. His technical control and sense of rhythm were astonishing. Long after the photography for the solo dance number "I Want to Be a Dancin' Man" was completed for the 1952 feature The Belle of New York, it was decided that Astaire's humble costume and the threadbare stage set were inadequate and the entire sequence was reshot. The 1994 documentary That's Entertainment! III shows the two performances side-by-side in split screen. Frame for frame, the two performances are absolutely identical, down to the subtlest gesture.
  • 1978
    Age 78
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Astaire won an Emmy Award for his performance.
  • 1976
    Age 76
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Fred Astaire played Dr. Seamus Scully in the French film The Purple Taxi (1977).
  • 1975
    Age 75
    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.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1959
    Age 59
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Astaire appeared in non-dancing roles in three other films and several television series from 1957 to 1969. Astaire's last major musical film was Finian's Rainbow (1968), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Astaire shed his white tie and tails to play an Irish rogue who believes that if he buries a crock of gold in the shadows of Fort Knox the gold will multiply. Astaire's dance partner was Petula Clark, who played his character's skeptical daughter. He described himself as nervous about singing with her, while she said she was worried about dancing with him. The film was a box-office failure, but has gained a strong reputation over the years. Astaire continued to act in the 1970s, appearing on television as the father of Robert Wagner's character, Alexander Mundy, in It Takes a Thief and in such films as The Towering Inferno (1974), in which he danced with Jennifer Jones and for which he received his only Academy Award nomination, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. He voiced the mailman narrator in the 1970s animated television specials Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town and The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town. Astaire also appeared in the first two That's Entertainment! documentaries, in the mid 1970s. In the second, aged seventy-six, he performed song-and-dance routines with Kelly, his last dance performances in a musical film.
  • 1958
    Age 58
    The first of these programs, 1958's An Evening with Fred Astaire, won nine Emmy Awards, including "Best Single Performance by an Actor" and "Most Outstanding Single Program of the Year."
    More Details Hide Details It was also noteworthy for being the first major broadcast to be prerecorded on color videotape and has recently been restored. The restoration won a technical Emmy in 1988 for Ed Reitan, Don Kent, and Dan Einstein, who restored the original videotape, transferring its contents to a modern format and filling in gaps where the tape had deteriorated with kinescope footage. Astaire won the Emmy for Best Single Performance by an Actor, but the choice had a controversial backlash because many believed that his dancing in the special was not the type of "acting" for which the award was designed. At one point Astaire offered to return the award, but the Television Academy refused to consider it.
    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.
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  • 1955
    Age 55
    When Daddy Long Legs was released in 1955, it did only moderately well at the box office.
    More Details Hide Details His next film for Paramount, Funny Face (1957), teamed him with Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson and despite the sumptuousness of the production and the songs by the Gershwins, it failed to make back its cost. Similarly, Astaire's next project - his final musical at M-G-M, Silk Stockings (1957), in which he co-starred with Cyd Charisse, also lost money at the box office. As a result, Astaire withdrew from motion pictures for two years.
  • 1952
    Age 52
    During 1952, Astaire recorded The Astaire Story, a four-volume album with a quintet led by Oscar Peterson.
    More Details Hide Details The album, produced by Norman Granz, provided a musical overview of Astaire's career. The Astaire Story later won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, a special Grammy award to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance." His legacy at this point was 30 musical films in 25 years. Afterwards, Astaire announced that he was retiring from dancing in film to concentrate on dramatic acting, scoring rave reviews for the nuclear war drama On the Beach (1959).
  • 1950
    Age 50
    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.
    More Details Hide Details While Three Little Words did quite well at the box office, Let's Dance was a financial disappointment. Royal Wedding (1951) with Jane Powell proved to be very successful, but The Belle of New York (1952) with Vera-Ellen was a critical and box-office disaster. The Band Wagon (1953), which is considered to be one of the finest musicals ever made, received rave reviews from critics and drew huge crowds. But because of its excessive cost, it failed to make a profit on its first release. Soon after, Astaire, along with all the other remaining stars at M-G-M, was let go from his contract because of the advent of television and the downsizing of film production. In 1954, Astaire was about to start work on a new musical, Daddy Long Legs (1955) with Leslie Caron at 20th Century Fox, when his wife Phyllis became ill and suddenly died of lung cancer. Astaire was so bereaved that he wanted to shut down the picture and offered to pay the production costs out of his own pocket. However, Johnny Mercer (the film's composer) and Fox studio executives convinced him that work would be the best thing for him at that time.
  • FORTIES
  • 1946
    Age 46
    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.
    More Details Hide Details However, he soon returned to the big screen to replace the injured Kelly in Easter Parade (1948) opposite Judy Garland, Ann Miller, and Peter Lawford and for a final reunion with Rogers (replacing Judy Garland) in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).
  • 1940
    Age 40
    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."
    More Details Hide Details In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, "She 'put 'em down like a man,' no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself." He played alongside Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn (1942) and later Blue Skies (1946) but, in spite of the enormous financial success of both, was reportedly dissatisfied with roles where he lost the girl to Crosby. The former film is particularly remembered for his virtuoso solo dance to "Let's Say it with Firecrackers" while the latter film featured an innovative song and dance routine to a song indelibly associated with him: "Puttin' on the Ritz." Other partners during this period included Paulette Goddard in Second Chorus (1940), in which he dance-conducted the Artie Shaw orchestra. He made two pictures with Rita Hayworth, the daughter of his former vaudeville dance idols, the Cansinos. The first, You'll Never Get Rich (1941), catapulted Hayworth to stardom and provided Astaire his third on-screen opportunity to integrate Latin American dance idioms into his style (the first being with Ginger Rogers in "The Carioca" number from "Flying Down to Rio" (1933) and the second, again with Rogers, was the "Dengozo" dance from "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939)), taking advantage of Hayworth's professional Latin dance pedigree. His second film with Hayworth, You Were Never Lovelier (1942), was equally successful and featured a duet to Kern's "I'm Old Fashioned," which became the centerpiece of Jerome Robbins's 1983 New York City Ballet tribute to Astaire.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1939
    Age 39
    In 1939, Astaire left RKO to freelance and pursue new film opportunities, with mixed though generally successful outcomes.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout this period, Astaire continued to value the input of choreographic collaborators and, unlike the 1930s when he worked almost exclusively with Hermes Pan, he tapped the talents of other choreographers in an effort to continually innovate.
  • 1937
    Age 37
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He returned to make two more films with Rogers, Carefree (1938) and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). While both films earned respectable gross incomes, they both lost money because of increased production costs, and Astaire left RKO, after being labeled "box office poison" by the Independent Film Journal. Astaire was reunited with Rogers in 1949 at MGM for their final outing, The Barkleys of Broadway, the only one of their films together to be shot in Technicolor.
  • 1934
    Age 34
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Astaire's style of dance sequences, which allowed the viewer to follow the dancers and choreography in their entirety, clearly contrasted with the Busby Berkeley musicals, which were known for dance sequences filled with extravagant aerial shots, quick takes, and zooms on certain areas of the body, such as a chorus row of arms or legs. Astaire's second innovation involved the context of the dance; he was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plotlines of the film. Instead of using dance as spectacle as Busby Berkeley did, Astaire used it to move the plot along. Typically, an Astaire picture would include at least three standard dances: a solo performance by Astaire—which he termed his "sock solo", a partnered comedy dance routine, and a partnered romantic dance routine. Dance commentators Arlene Croce, Hannah Hyam and John Mueller consider Rogers to have been Astaire's greatest dance partner, a view shared by Hermes Pan and Stanley Donen. Film critic Pauline Kael adopts a more neutral stance, while Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel writes "The nostalgia surrounding Rogers-Astaire tends to bleach out other partners."
  • 1933
    Age 33
    Astaire was married for the first time in 1933, to the 25-year-old Phyllis Potter (formerly Phyllis Livingston Baker; born 1908, died September 13, 1954), a Boston-born New York socialite and former wife of Eliphalet Nott Potter III (1906–1981), after pursuing her ardently for roughly two years, and despite the objections of his mother and sister.
    More Details Hide Details Phyllis's death from lung cancer, at the age of 46, ended 21 years of a blissful marriage and left Astaire devastated. Astaire attempted to drop out of the film Daddy Long Legs (1955), which he was in the process of filming, offering to pay the production costs to date, but was persuaded to stay. In addition to Phyllis Potter's son, Eliphalet IV (known as Peter), the Astaires had two children. Fred, Jr. (born January 21, 1936), appeared with his father in the movie Midas Run but became a charter pilot and rancher instead of an actor. Their daughter Ava Astaire (born March 19, 1942; married Richard McKenzie) remains actively involved in promoting her late father's heritage. His friend, David Niven, described him as "a pixie—timid, always warm-hearted, with a penchant for schoolboy jokes." Astaire was a lifelong golf and Thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast. In 1946 his horse Triplicate won the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup and San Juan Capistrano Handicap. He remained physically active well into his eighties. At age seventy-eight, he broke his left wrist while riding his grandson's skateboard.
    On his return to RKO, he got fifth billing after fourth billed Ginger Rogers in the 1933 Dolores del Río vehicle Flying Down to Rio.
    More Details Hide Details In a review, Variety magazine attributed its massive success to Astaire's presence: The main point of Flying Down to Rio is the screen promise of Fred Astaire... He's assuredly a bet after this one, for he's distinctly likable on the screen, the mike is kind to his voice and as a dancer he remains in a class by himself. The latter observation will be no news to the profession, which has long admitted that Astaire starts dancing where the others stop hoofing. Having already been linked to his sister Adele on stage, Astaire was initially very reluctant to become part of another dance team. He wrote his agent, "I don't mind making another picture with her, but as for this 'team' idea, it's 'out!' I've just managed to live down one partnership and I don't want to be bothered with any more." However, he was persuaded by the obvious public appeal of the Astaire-Rogers pairing. The partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical.
    However, this did not affect RKO's plans for Astaire, first lending him for a few days to MGM in 1933 for his significant Hollywood debut, where he appeared as himself dancing with Joan Crawford in the successful musical film Dancing Lady.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details According to Hollywood folklore, a screen test report on Astaire for RKO Radio Pictures, now lost along with the test, is reported to have read: "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little." The producer of the Astaire-Rogers pictures, Pandro S. Berman, claimed he had never heard the story in the 1930s and that it only emerged years afterwards. Astaire later clarified, insisting that the report had actually read: "Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances". In any case, the test was clearly disappointing, and David O. Selznick, who had signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the test, stated in a memo, "I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test."
  • 1930
    Age 30
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Fred went on to achieve success on his own on Broadway and in London with Gay Divorce (later made into the film The Gay Divorcee), while considering offers from Hollywood. The end of the partnership was traumatic for Astaire but stimulated him to expand his range. Free of the brother-sister constraints of the former pairing and working with new partner Claire Luce, Fred created a romantic partnered dance to Cole Porter's "Night and Day," which had been written for Gay Divorce. Luce stated that she had to encourage him to take a more romantic approach: "Come on, Fred, I'm not your sister, you know." The success of the stage play was credited to this number and, when recreated in The Gay Divorcee (1934), the film version of the play, it ushered in a new era in filmed dance.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1917
    Age 17
    The Astaires broke into Broadway in 1917 with Over the Top, a patriotic revue.
    More Details Hide Details The Astaires performed for U.S. and Allied troops at this time too.:) They followed up with several more shows, and of their work in "The Passing Show of 1918," Heywood Broun wrote: "In an evening in which there was an abundance of good dancing, Fred Astaire stood out... He and his partner, Adele Astaire, made the show pause early in the evening with a beautiful loose-limbed dance." By this time, Astaire's dancing skill was beginning to outshine his sister's, though she still set the tone of their act and her sparkle and humor drew much of the attention, owing in part to Fred's careful preparation and strong supporting choreography. During the 1920s, Fred and Adele appeared on Broadway and on the London stage in shows such as Jerome Kern's The Bunch and Judy (1922), George and Ira Gershwin's Lady Be Good (1924), and Funny Face (1927) and later in The Band Wagon (1931), winning popular acclaim with the theater crowd on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • 1916
    Age 16
    He first met George Gershwin, who was working as a song plugger for Jerome H. Remick's music publishing company, in 1916.
    More Details Hide Details Fred had already been hunting for new music and dance ideas. Their chance meeting was to deeply affect the careers of both artists. Astaire was always on the lookout for new steps on the circuit and was starting to demonstrate his ceaseless quest for novelty and perfection.
  • 1915
    Age 15
    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.
    More Details Hide Details By age 14, Fred had taken on the musical responsibilities for their act.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1905
    Age 5
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Despite Adele and Fred's teasing rivalry, they quickly acknowledged their individual strengths, his durability and her greater talent. Fred and Adele's mother suggested they change their name to "Astaire," as she felt "Austerlitz" sounded reminiscent of the name of a battle. Family legend attributes the name to an uncle surnamed "L'Astaire." They were taught dance, speaking, and singing in preparation for developing an act. Their first act was called Juvenile Artists Presenting an Electric Musical Toe-Dancing Novelty. Fred wore a top hat and tails in the first half and a lobster outfit in the second. In an interview, Astaire's daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie, observed that they often put Fred in a top hat to make him look taller. The goofy act debuted in Keyport, New Jersey, in a "tryout theater." The local paper wrote, "the Astaires are the greatest child act in vaudeville."
  • 1899
    Born
    Born on May 10, 1899.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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