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slaytonf

Fred Astaire____spins into a chair.

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You watch Mr. Astaire a lot, you will see patterns to the way he moves, techniques he habitually employs in the choreography.  One that is salient is a twirl he makes at the end of a number, ending up sitting in a chair.  He does this gracefully, seamlessly (of course) so it seems the most natural thing to do.  The definitive instance comes from Top Hat (1935) after he soft-shoes Ginger Rogers--and himself to sleep:

In Royal Wedding (1951), he ends up gazing at a pic of Sarah Churchill, understandable after dancing the walls and ceiling:

He does something similar in The Band Wagon (1953), into a coach with Cyd Charisse in it (who wouldn't?):

 

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I have a problem with the piece tcm will run every so often on ginger rogers. it almost becomes a hit piece on fred astaire by suggesting that ginger couldn't wait to break away from him.

I doan like that. fred astaire was a class act. I doan like hearing him run down like that. did it really kill her to dance so much with him?

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3 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I have a problem with the piece tcm will run every so often on ginger rogers. it almost becomes a hit piece on fred astaire by suggesting that ginger couldn't wait to break away from him.

I doan like that. fred astaire was a class act. I doan like hearing him run down like that. did it really kill her to dance so much with him?

Uh, she won an Academy Award after their first split. I guess she knew what she wanted.

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7 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I have a problem with the piece tcm will run every so often on ginger rogers. it almost becomes a hit piece on fred astaire by suggesting that ginger couldn't wait to break away from him.

I doan like that. fred astaire was a class act. I doan like hearing him run down like that. did it really kill her to dance so much with him?

Nip-- Fred Astaire and his choreographic assistant Hermes Pan spent the better part of the 1930s teaching Ginger Rogers, a non professionally trained dance amateur, how to look good on film in their RKO dance numbers.

Pan was an old friend of Rogers from Broadway and worked on her incessantly to improve her dance ability even before she ever rehearsed with Astaire.

Hermes Pan was the one who dubbed all those sharp clear taps for Rogers'  "tap dancing" because she didn't know how to do it.

Well in the end they may have built up a Frankenstein monster because at the end of the 30s Ginger Rogers was invited back with a contract from RKO whereas Fred Astaire was dropped.

In between all those Astaire Rogers movies, Ginger was working on her "serious" film career because she was going to be a "serious" actress who didn't need or want little dancing musicals in her future "serious" movie career.

Fred Astaire went on to dance for decades without her-- I might add quite successfully --

after the public had long forgotten all about his first movie dance partner.

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3 hours ago, jakeem said:

Uh, she won an Academy Award after their first split. I guess she knew what she wanted.

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Ginger Rogers won the Oscar in the beginning of the forties and was one of the most popular film actresses of the 1940s.

 Fred Astaire had a horrible decade in the forties drifting from Studio to Studio, looking for a contract or a partner or something.

He never really got back into the swing of things and he retired briefly only to be called back by MGM for Easter Parade When Gene Kelly broke his ankle. And the rest is the 4th chapter in Fred Astaire's great dance career.

 

The irony in the Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers story is that today she's only remembered as Fred Astaire's dance partner in the General Public. LOL

 

When Rogers was honored at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,  the highlight of her career was shown to be these films at RKO with Fred Astaire. But she was not allowed to show any of the dances on film that she performed with Fred Astaire because Astaire's Widow refused to release the footage. So when they would come to the part where she danced the Continental, the Piccolino, Cheek To Cheek, excetera, all they could show was a still photograph.

I couldn't say whether or not Fred Astaire had asked his wife to cut Ginger Rogers down like that or Astaire's Widow simply knew what had gone on in the past and made her own judgments.

 

But in the end, Rogers got what she wanted an Oscar for her performance in a serious film and a top box office career in the 40s that put her in competition with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

 

PS-- In the 1950s Ginger's career was waning and I can recall her on numerous TV musical variety programs now hawking her career with Fred Astaire and primarily promoting herself as a musical performer--dancing as a way of still staying in the spotlight as a middle-aged female movie star.

The last I heard of her in the 1960s  was she was one of the long line of Hello Dollies who graced Broadway, having gone back into musicals to still stay in Show Business. She even brought her Hello Dolly to Kansas City at The Starlight Theater, on the outdoor Straw Hat circuit.

So maybe she ended the way she started, despite her ambition to unseat Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn as the most accomplished "serious" actress of Hollywood.

Maybe it just took Ginger all those years to realize where her greatest talent really did lie-- in musicals, in wonderful comedies like The Major and The Minor and Monkey Business which perfectly suited her abilities.

Even though Ginger was versatile in her dramatic roles in films like Kitty Foyle and I'll Be Seeing You and accomplished good performances.

BUT  The Cinematic magic that she created with Fred Astaire well--

They can't take that away from me.

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Rogers also late in life and career did well into the '70's on stage and other personal appearances and even did some stage directing, said to be a long ambition of hers. 

Astaire too, did pretty good for himself late in life, after the legs went, as an actor.

Sepiatone

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54 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Rogers also late in life and career did well into the '70's on stage and other personal appearances and even did some stage directing, said to be a long ambition of hers. 

Astaire too, did pretty good for himself late in life, after the legs went, as an actor.

Sepiatone

Fred Astaire had his share of awards honoring his long show business career.

In 1950 Fred Astaire received an honorary Oscar from the Academy:

"For his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of Musical Pictures", presented to him by Ginger Rogers.

 

* In 1975 Fred Astaire was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his dramatic role in The Towering Inferno.

** Astaire has received 3 Primetime Emmy Awards-- 2 for TV dance specials and 1 for a dramatic role.

***Astaire was among the first recipients of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Honors for his lifetime contribution to American culture in 1978.

**** In 1989 Astaire was awarded the posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

*****" "  Astaire was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

******And in 1999 Astaire received a posthumous Grammy Hall of Fame Award for The Astaire Story.

 

 In 1981  Fred Astaire received the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gene Kelly, Eleanor Powell, Bob Fosse, Baryshnikov, Cyd Charisse, Audrey Hepburn, and James Cagney were among the legendary dancers who came to pay tribute to Astaire's Dance Artistry.

 

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12 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I have a problem with the piece tcm will run every so often on ginger rogers. it almost becomes a hit piece on fred astaire by suggesting that ginger couldn't wait to break away from him.

I doan like that. fred astaire was a class act. I doan like hearing him run down like that. did it really kill her to dance so much with him?

By the way, didn't Astaire consider Barrie Chase his favorite dance partner? Wonder how Rogers reacted to that!

Image result for Fred Astaire and Barrie Chase

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1 hour ago, jakeem said:

By the way, didn't Astaire consider Barrie Chase his favorite dance partner? Wonder how Rogers reacted to that!

Image result for Fred Astaire and Barrie Chase

FRED'S favorite Dance Partners were classically-trained ballet dancers-- what the English would call proper dancers:

Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron, Gene Kelly ( yes, he was a ballet dancer too) and certainly Miss Barrie Chase.

Having said all this, ironically the person that he liked to perform with the best was an utilitarian trained dancer, including tap dancing. But she was definitely not a seriously trained ballet dancer.

What she did have  was the ability to perform  musical numbers on a world-class level. 

Famed movie critic Judith Crist often said that this female performer was the only woman who danced with Fred Astaire and you didn't watch Fred Astaire. Not surprisingly Crist said the same thing for Gene Kelly.

The female performer, of course, would be Judy Garland. Judy Garland not only brought Fred Astaire back into the Hollywood musical comedy Dance World, but she also brought him back into the love of performing just for the sake of it.

But I imagine it was rare that Fred Astaire would ever work with someone, aside from his sister, Adele Astaire, who was really on his level professionally. ( Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell would be on that list too).

 

BTW:  Even though Ginger Rogers was not the best trained dancer that Astaire worked  with, it was still

his excellent technique and style teamed with her excellent acting ability within the dance that put them over the top.

Ginger may have frustrated Astaire at times because she was not a trained dancer and more concerned with attractive costumes that may have been a hindrance to his dance technique, 

But Ginger Rogers was his consummate actress-dancer, who had the Dramatic Flair to give his work the passionate touch that  made it timeless. Physically, Ginger Rogers  matched him better than any other woman he ever worked with.

Opposites do attract each other and the audience.

For Better or For Worse, Ginger Rogers was the best dance partner Fred Astaire ever had on film.

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This is not quite a spin into a chair, but a spin into a ....piano. One of my very favorites, from Fred and Vera-Ellen. In my mind, I imagine that, even without the soundtrack, their dancing didn't make any noise at all.

 

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Princess, According to a friend of mine who was a major Astaire fan, his widow was a real controlling b-word so I'm not surprised she wouldn't allow the dancing clips in that Kennedy Center tribute.

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9 minutes ago, ChristineHoard said:

Princess, According to a friend of mine who was a major Astaire fan, his widow was a real controlling b-word so I'm not surprised she wouldn't allow the dancing clips in that Kennedy Center tribute.

But then she'd go ahead and approve the use of his image to sell vacuum cleaners. ::rolls eyes::

There is a Fred Astaire dance studio in Lake Oswego, OR (a suburb of Portland), I always see it when driving south on the freeway out of town.  Researching the dance studio, it appears that this is a franchise and there are a ton of them across the country and even in Europe.  I seem to remember Fred talking about forming his own dance studio in his autobiography, so perhaps this is an endeavor he would have endorsed.  I can't see Fred wanting to hawk vacuum cleaners however. 

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44 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

This is not quite a spin into a chair, but a spin into a ....piano. One of my very favorites, from Fred and Vera-Ellen. In my mind, I imagine that, even without the soundtrack, their dancing didn't make any noise at all.

 

Thanks, sagebrush, for that clip.  Perhaps I should retitle the thread:  Fred Astaire__spins into--something.

 

That's from Three Little Words (1950)?

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10 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Thanks, sagebrush, for that clip.  Perhaps I should retitle the thread:  Fred Astaire__spins into--something.

 

That's from Three Little Words (1950)?

Yes! I love that film. I think Fred and Vera-Ellen were nicely matched, even though their other film, The Belle Of New York, was kind of silly.

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12 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

But then she'd go ahead and approve the use of his image to sell vacuum cleaners. ::rolls eyes::

There is a Fred Astaire dance studio in Lake Oswego, OR (a suburb of Portland), I always see it when driving south on the freeway out of town.  Researching the dance studio, it appears that this is a franchise and there are a ton of them across the country and even in Europe.  I seem to remember Fred talking about forming his own dance studio in his autobiography, so perhaps this is an endeavor he would have endorsed.  I can't see Fred wanting to hawk vacuum cleaners however. 

Fred Astaire's first wife,  Phyllis Livingston Potter, was from a Wall Street  family and she had all kinds of Connections in the investment world of High Finance. Phyllis was responsible for investing all of Fred's money and she did a good job of it.

After Fred "retired" to Aiken South Carolina in 1946, Phyllis decided to go into the Fred Astaire Dance Studio business.

I think it was just so so and I don't know if it ever had the kind of success that Arthur Murray had. At any rate, he long ago sold this business and they still have the use of his name.

Fred Astaire was also in the horse racing game and made quite a lot of money there, owning a number of thoroughbreds.

 

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13 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

Princess, According to a friend of mine who was a major Astaire fan, his widow was a real controlling b-word so I'm not surprised she wouldn't allow the dancing clips in that Kennedy Center tribute.

Christine--

I'm so glad that you mentioned the second wife because I just bought a book written by Fred Astaire's son-in-law which discusses her at length.

Richard McKenzie, the husband of Ava Astaire-- Fred's only daughter, has written an autobiographical account of his marriage and his friendship with his father-in-law.

 The book is called: " One Family's Journey from Beverly Hills to Ireland".

In this book, McKenzie sadly recalls how Astaire's second wife tried to cut him off from his family and close friends.

However, the book is primarily about his life in Ireland with his wife and two sons.

But in the Beverly Hills part, it has some fantastic accounts of his business and personal associations with Hollywood stars, as he is a professional artist.

Sadly, and also ironically, Gene Kelly's family has had a similar situation concerning his last and third wife, who also legally has complete control over Kelly's Legacy and Image.

It's interesting how that turned out for both of those great movie star dancers.

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

Yes! I love that film. I think Fred and Vera-Ellen were nicely matched, even though their other film, The Belle Of New York, was kind of silly.

The Bell of New York was Fred Astaire's least favorite film--you might even say it was the film that he hated.  He tried to get out of it but of course he had a contract. He even refused to go to the premiere-- sending his wife instead.

But I do love:" I Wanna Be A Dancing Man". So despite his personal feelings, he certainly did a heavenly job on that number.

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11 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

The Bell of New York was Fred Astaire's least favorite film--you might even say it was the film that he hated.  He tried to get out of it but of course he had a contract. He even refused to go to the premiere-- sending his wife instead.

But I do love:" I Wanna Be A Dancing Man". So despite his personal feelings, he certainly did a heavenly job on that number.

I love that dance number, too! Also, I thought the finale of the Courier and Ives sequence was wonderful.

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