- Astaire, Fred
- (1899-1987)The son of Austrian immigrants, Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and began dancing in vaudeville with his sister in 1906 at the age of seven. In 1917, they moved to stage performances, appearing on Broadway and in London in George and Ira Gershwin’s Lady, Be Good! (1924) and Funny Face (1927). In 1932, he starred on his own in Cole Porter’s The Gay Divorcée. Astaire began appearing in movies in 1933 and made the first film with Ginger Rogers, a version of The Gay Divorcée, in 1934. A number of successful films cemented their on-screen relationship and ensured box office success, most notably Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). Following a dispute over fees, Astaire left Rogers to work on his own. Among others, he also appeared in Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), Holiday Inn (1942), and Ziegfeld Follies (1945-1946).After a brief period in retirement, Astaire returned to make 10 more films between 1948 and 1957. He had a major hit with Judy Garland in Easter Parade (1948) and made successful films with Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, and Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face ). Astaire made a number of very successful television shows, including four musical specials between 1958 and 1968. His last musical film was Finian’s Rainbow (1968), but he also had several nondancing, nonmusical roles in On the Beach (1959), The Pleasure of His Company (1961), The Notorious Landlady (1962), The Midas Run (1969), and The Towering Inferno (1975). He also had dramatic roles in a number of television specials and series.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.