Fred Astaire

One of the most famous names in the history of stage musicals, Fred Astaire was primarily known as a great dancer - particularly in partnership with Ginger Rogers - although he was also a fine actor and singer, fondly remembered for Pick Yourself Up and A Fine Romance. Another great singer/dancer Gene Kelly once said "the history of dance on film begins with Astaire" and his most famous songs include American songbook classics Cheek To Cheek, Let's Face The Music and Dance, Shall We Dance and They Can't Take That Away From Me. The son of an Austrian immigrant, Astaire was born and raised in Nebraska and initially went on stage in a vaudevillian song and dance act with his sister Adele, playing accordion, piano and clarinet. In 1905 their parents took the siblings to New York to further their careers, changing their surname from Austerlitz to Astaire and dressing the young Fred in the top hat and tails with which he became synonymous. Incorporating a variety of dance styles, including tap, they soon built a big reputation with their polished act, first appearing on the Broadway stage in 1917 in a revue called Over The Top. They went on to appear in hit shows like Lady Be Good, Funny Face and The Bandwagon, and after breaking up their act in 1932 following Adele's marriage, Fred went on to receive solo acclaim for his performance in The Gay Divorcee. In 1933 he appeared in his first Hollywood movie Dancing Lady, alongside Joan Crawford. Later that year he appeared for the first time with Ginger Rogers, launching a golden partnership that produced classic musicals like Top Hat, Roberta, Follow The Fleet and Swing Time. He starred with Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn (1944) and Blue Skies (1946) , which featured one of his most memorable songs Putting On The Ritz. After a brief retirement Astaire returned to star with Judy Garland in Easter Parade and had further major successes in the 1950s with Three Little Words, Silk Stockings and Funny Face. His last major musical was Finian's Rainbow (1968) although he continued to play dramatic roles and appear on TV, making his last appearance in the horror movie Ghost Story.

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Stations Featuring Fred Astaire

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