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Fred Astaire dancing with his Cane

Stage Name

Birth Name

Fred Astaire Frederick Austerlitz
The evaluation of Astaire's first screen test:"Can't act... Can't sing... Balding... Can dance a little."

          Fred started dancing ballet at the age of five with his older sister Adele (b.1898) and started studying Tap dancing at the age of eight with La Neva. Fred and Adele danced in Vaudeville and Broadway shows as child performers/ dancers. Fred's Mother was Fred's manager, promoter and chaperone for twenty five years. Fred was mainly home schooled by his mother, and was a very smart child, however his education was very basic ( According to Life Magazine 1941.) Fred recalls his first solo was a Buck and Wing on his toes ( Buck and wing was usually done flat footed) which brought about a few chuckles.

     As young performers Adele was the star of the show, while Fred was just helping out his sister. Fred says it was really hard back then with your older sister a foot taller than you. He goes on to say it was not fun playing the part of the girl and your sister the boy as he kept tripping over his dress and the wig tickled his neck. Because Adele got all the raves and Fred all the frowns and the roles he had to play, he really didn't try very hard but as he got older he would make the effort to be a better partner for his sister Adele. Adele used to lovingly call him "Moanin' Minnie," as he used to whine allot and look for all the negatives.

Fred Astaire Autograph

     As far as I know there are no films with Fred and Adele, but the clip above with Gene Kelly is a routine done earlier in Fred's career that he did with Adele to the same song and routine which might give a glimpse of a routine they did with a little imagination.

     After a two year break, Fred's mother sent them to Ned Wayburn who at the time had the market sewed up. Wayburn is the one who told Fred to stop with the Ballet ( Which he was now taking at Wayburn's studio) and start taking Tap Dance. While with Wayburn he learned to Tap, Clog and Ballroom dance for the Stage. Mrs Astaire, Fred's mother purchased a dance act ( A routine) for the kids for a thousand dollars from Wayburn. They learned the act and hit the road and played every rat trap and back woods Inn they could find until they got the act down. Fred only danced with Adele at this point with no solos for him during his Vaudeville days, so Fred still had no personality in his performances and the critics reported on the fact he had "a blasé air about him and was a Lackadaisical dancer." Altho the strain was starting to show, this didn't stop Fred, he just kept working. This lackadaisical air would eventually turn into a carefree, easy going, cool and collected dancer, while others who started young were beginning to burn out, Fred was finally starting to have fun and enjoy the dancing. His roles after this point were never a chore.

           In 1913 the Astaire's started working with the Top Ballroom, Acrobatics and Flash coaches of the day called "the Coccias. Aurelio Coccia threw out the corny Wayburn routine and gave them a streamlined, show stopping routine. Fred is reported to say he (Coccias) was the most influential man in his career with the Castles being second. Later, Irene Castle personally requested Fred to play her husband in the film " The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle."

    In 1916 Fred and Adele made their first somewhat successful Broadway musical debut in "Over The Top" and would go on to become Broadway stars. They continued to Broadway shows with Fred only dancing with Adele, but this was about to change. In 1925 Fred had worked out a solo Tap routine in 'Lady Be Good' by George Gershwin, but promptly dropped it from the act but his reputation as a tap dancer was growing. He entered a Buck dancing contest "In Old Kentucky" which he earned third against some of the best.

    When he got into his teens and the size issue balanced out their acts, Fred would start to work harder, especially in ballroom dances and continued working with Tap, however Adele was still the star during their Stage show Fred and Adele tried the Nightclub circuit but said he and Adele hated it. The constant changing routines every night to be fresh and new was a pain, let alone two or three times a night with half the noisy audience changing as the night wore on. They lasted 6 weeks and quit at the Trocadero in New York.

             As Adele became older and gentleman suitors started coming around, she became difficult to work with as she was always to busy ( Dating) to put the time in Fred wanted her too, but really was mainly due to Fred starting to get more attention than her. Fred and his sister started working with Buddy Bradley during this time. Adele finally married one of her suitors " Lord Cavendish," and retired from the Stage in 1932. In 1935 Fred got a part in Radio show called the Packard Hour where he had to make better use of his singing voice and the sounds his feet were making. Through Fred's performing on Stage with many great dancers such as the De Marcos, The Cansino's, Eddie Rector, Bojangles etc. He was sure to pick up a thing here and there. Fred went to Hollywood around 1933 to be in Films with his first being Dancing Lady with Joan Crawford and continued to make many movies over time with many different partners, his most famous teaming was with Ginger Rogers. Fred and Gingers last film together was in 1939 but got together again to film the Barkleys of Broadway in 1949.

      Fred and Ginger were probably the most famous of all the ballroom dance teams as well as the greatest money making dance team the studio's ever had. Fred's unique style was his ability to mix Tap, Ballet and Ballroom with grace and ease. Astaire had an air of "Style, Sophistication, Gay spontaneity and Class" which no doubt would help make him a star. Fred giving tribute also danced a Bojangles routine in the movie " Swingtime," Gave tribute to Shorty George Snowden in "You Were Never Lovlier" ( See clip on left) and portrayed Vernon Castle in the movie "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" with Ginger Rogers.

          During W.W.II, Fred entertained the troops in France, Belgium and Holland. Fred opened his dance studio in 1947 with plans to make it an international chain, which he did. Astaire actually had very little to do with the chain studio's that bore his name. Ballet was the main foundation of Fred Astaire, with Ballroom and Tap dance being his claim to fame but he was never truly a "Hoofer," he was a dancer. Ned Wayburn was quoted as saying when speaking of Tap; "Fred Astaire was the first American tap dancer to consciously employ the full resources of his arms, hands and torso for visual ornamentation." Altho Fred's dancing was good but never the best, he had something most others didn't posses ... a sense of CLASS!"

      Once Ginger left the team, the Studio had to find a new match for Fred but never could, altho some partnerings were fantastic with Fred. Fred liked his pairing with Rita Hayworth the best of all his partners with Cyd Charisse being next.

      Fred passed away in 1987. He is interred at Oakwood Memorial Park, Chatsworth, California, USA, the same cemetery as Adele and where long-time dancing partner, Ginger Rogers is located.


Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Offspring

Omaha , Nebraska 5/10/1899 - 6/22/1987 Phyllis Potter Fred Astaire Jr.
  (Adele: 9/10/1897 - 1/25/1981) Robyn Smith Peter Potter
      Ava Astaire-MacKenzie

Dance Partners

Video Clip View (Po-Up Window)

Music Titles

Publications

Adele Astaire Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1916 - My Corey Melody 7/19/1924- Pop Music & Dancing Weekly
Audrey Hepburn
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1922 - Oh Gee, Oh Gosh (w/Adele) 4/1926 - Theater Magazine ( W/adele)
Ava Gardiner
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1922 - The Whichness of the Whatness (w/Adele) 12/28/1936 - Life Magazine
Barrie Chase Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1923 - You've Such a Lot 5/1937 - Screen Romance
Claire Luce
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1924 - Fascinating Rhythm (w/Adele) 6/5/1937 - Liberty Mag
Cyd Cherisse
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1926 - Hang On To Me (w/Adele) 2/1939 - Stage Magazine.
Danny Kaye Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1930 - Be Good To Me 3/27/1939 - Life Magazine
Dolores Del Rio
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1930 - The Babbit and the Bromide (w/Adele) 8/25/1941 - Life Magazine ( With his Son)
Eleanor Powell
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1930 - Crazy Feet 10/10/1941 - Time Mag.
Gene Kelly Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1930 - If I Were You Love 12/1942 - Dance Magazine
Ginger Rogers Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1930 - I'm Glad I Waited 9/1945 - Dance Magazine
Joan Caufield Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1930 - You're Driving Me Crazy 1/8/1949 - Colliers Magazine
Joan Fontaine Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - Hoops (Adele) $ 1995 - Dance Till Dawn
Joan Leslie Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - Sweet Music (Adele) $ 2000 - Steps In Time
Judy Garland Clip1 | Clip2 Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - New Sun In The Sky $ 1993 - Missing Fred Astaire
June Powell Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - Miserable With You $ Fred Astaire - The Man, The Dancer
Leslie Caron Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - I Love Louisa (Adele) $ Jazz Dance (Marshall Stearns)
Lucille Bremmer(Clip) Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - The Beggar Waltz See All Astaire Books
Marilyn Miller (Smiles) Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1931 - White Heat (Adele)  
Marjorie Reynolds
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
Puttin on The Ritz  
Paulette Goddard
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1937 - A Foggy Day  
Rita Hayworth
Youtube video clip (pop-up window)
1937 - I Can't Be Bothered Now (I'm Dancing)  
Tilly Losch   ... Also see Adele's page for more songs etc.  
Vera Ellen    
     
 

Astaire Sheet Music Titles

 
  Astaire, the  
  Carioca, the  
  Continental, the  
  Creep, the  
  Piccolino, the  
  Yam, the  

Video Clip View (Po-Up Window)

Films

Stage

Clubs / Theaters

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1933 - Dancing Lady (w/ Crawford) New Songs and Smart Dances ( Their Act) 44th Street Roof Garden
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. Dancing in The Dark 1916 - Over The Top ( Debut) Alvin Theatre
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1933 - Flying Down to Rio (w/ Ginger) 1916/18 - Passing Show of 1918 Ethel Barrymore Thtr (1932)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1934 - Gay Divorcee, the(the Continental) 1919 - Apple Blossoms ( W/Adele) Globe Theater (1919)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1935 - Top Hat (w/ Ginger) 1921 - Love Letter ( W/Adele) Liberty Theater (1924)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1935 - Roberta (w/ Ginger)(Clip2) 1922 - For Goodness Sake Lyric Theater (1922)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1936 - Follow The Fleet (w/ Ginger) 1922 - The Bunch and Judy ( W/Adele) New Amsterdam Thtr (1931)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1936 - Swingtime (w/ Ginger) 1923 - Stop Flirting Ohio Theater (1932)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1937 - Damsel in Distress (w/ Fontaine) 1924 - Lady Be Good ( W/Adele) Shaftesbury Theatre (1923)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1937 - Shall We Dance (w/ Ginger) 1927 - Funny Face Trocadero Night Club
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1938 - Carefree (w/ Ginger) 1930 - Smiles ( W/ marilyn Miller) Winter Garden Theater (1918)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1939 - Story of Vernon... (w/ Ginger) 1931 - Band Wagon (w/Adele) Ziegfeld Theater (1930)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1940 - Broadway Melody (w/ Powell) 1932 - Gay Divorcee ( W/ Luce)  
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Second Chorus (w/ Goddard)    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - You'll Never Get Rich (w/ Hayworth)    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1942 - Holiday Inn    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1942 - You Were Never Lovelier (w/ Hayworth)[DVD]    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1943 - The Sky's The Limit    
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1945 - Yolanda & The Thief

Television

Fred's Dances

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1945 - Ziegfeld Follies 1958 - Fabulous Fred Astaire Acrobatic / Adagio
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1949 - Barkleys of Broadway (w/ Ginger) 1960 - Astaire Time Astaire, the
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1946 - Blue Skies[DVD] 1968 - The Fred Astaire Show Ballet
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1948 - Easter Parade Whats My Line(Clip) Ballroom Dances
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1950 - Let's Dance (w/ Hutton)[DVD] Dick Cavet Show (Fred Dances at age 71)(Clip) Buck and Wing
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1950 - Three Little Words (w/ Ellen)[DVD]   Carioca, the
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1951 - Royal Wedding[DVD]   Clog dance
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1952 - Belle of New York ( Sand Dance)[DVD]   The Continental(Clip)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1953 - Band Wagon (w/ Charisse)[DVD]

Astaire's Dance Teachers

The Highland Fling
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1955 - Daddy Long Legs (Caron) Sluefoot Buddy Bradley (Vernacular 1930s) Hoop Dance
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1957 - Funny Face[DVD] Coccias, the (Acrobatics & Flash 1913) Jitter-Jive
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1957 - Silk Stockings[DVD] La Neva - Alvienne (1906 Ballet) Piccolino, the
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1968 - Finian's Rainbow Ned Wayburn (1910s Tap, Ballroom etc) The Rumba
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1970 - Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Voice)   Sand Dance (see "Belle of New York")
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1985 - Cocoon   Soft Shoe
      Tap Dance
      Yam, the
      The Waltz

NOTE: n/a