I’m an old movie fanatic and probably have seen every movie out there from Buster Keaton to Laurel and Hardy, but my favorite dance routines was always watching Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
Today is Fred Astaire’s birthday; born on May 10th 1899, as Frederick Austerlitz, both his parents were German immigrants from East Prussia in Austria.
After his parent arrived in New York City in 1892, after being inspected at Ellis Island, his father was hoping to find work in his brewing trade company and moved the family to Omaha Nebraska after landing a job with the Storz Brewing Company.
Astaire’s mother dreamed of escaping Omaha by virtue of her children’s talents, after Astaire’s sister, Adele Astaire, early on revealed herself to be an instinctive dancer and singer. She planned a “brother and sister act,” which was common in vaudeville at the time. Although Astaire refused dance lessons at first, he easily mimicked his older sister’s steps and took up piano, and the accordion, and also learned how to play the clarinet.
As her children began to draw a larger audience their mother suggested that they should change their last name to “Astaire,” because she felt “Austerlitz” sounded reminiscent of the name of a battle, called “The Battle of Austerlitz,” that happened in 1805 between Austria and France.
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.
Fred wore a top hat and tails in the first half of the performance while he accompanied his older sister.
In an interview, Astaire’s daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie, observed that they often put Fred in a top hat to make him look taller, because his older sister was always taller than him.
Today’s YouTube video clip is Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, in a slide show preview of how they were back then, as a brother and sister dance routine, brought to you by user named Shanbannie.
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.
Fred finally got his break when he RKO Pictures discovered him. RKO which stands for, (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) is an American film production and distribution company.
Actors Katharine Hepburn and, later, Robert Mitchum had their first major successes at the studio. Cary Grant was a mainstay for years. The studio produced two of the most famous films in motion picture history: King Kong and Citizen Kane.
Today’s YouTube video clip brought to you by, user named Boyang Wang, in classic clip in the movie called, “Top Hat.” Starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, this same clip was in the movie called, “The Green Mile.”
Fred Astaire died on June 22, 1987, at age 88, from pneumonia. He passed away while being held by his second wife, Robyn. ”That’s the way he wanted it,” she said. ”He died holding on to me.”
On April 25, 1995, Ginger died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83.
In lieu of today’s story, as they dance away to check to check in heaven, were left with so many memories of the movies that they both starred in, as we wish Fred Astaire a happy birthday.
Written and Designed by JD Mitchell