Fred Astaire biography 2022

Actor Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire biography

Fred Astaire (Frederick Austerlitz) was born on May 10, 1899. He was an American dancer, singer, and actor.

From Broadway to Hollywood

In the 1920s, he appeared with his sister Adele Astaire (1896-1981) in major Broadway hits such as Lady Be Good (1924) and Funny Face (1927), but when she retired in 1932, he applied to Hollywood. Here, in the 1930s, together with Ginger Rogers, he recorded a series of musicals, short, simple comedies that are carried by his choreographic genius, his witty, personal radiance, and his voice's crisp interpretation of songs written for him by the biggest names of the time: Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter.

Fred Astaire created, among other things, together with the choreographer Hermes Pan (1910-90) a perfectly worked-out film dance whose most distinguishing mark is the combination of strict professional precision and effortless poetic elegance, such as in Mark Sandrich's Top Hat (1935) and Shall We Dance (1937) and in George Stevens' Swing Time (1936).

His dance shifts between the romantic and the ironic, large floating dances and virtuosic step dances, all in constant contact with the emotions. The musical well-being of these films, the melodiousness, lightness, and humor help to paint a picture of the world in the 1930s.

The renewal of the movie musical

After his time with Ginger Rogers, he found new partners and danced with convincing virtuosity with Rita Hayworth in You Were Never Lovelier (1942). When MGM producer Arthur Freed (1894-1973) simultaneously gave him a significant position in his revival of the American film musical, he danced well and was inspired by partners such as Judy Garland in Easter Parade (1948), Vera-Ellen (1921-1981) in The Belle of New York (1952), and with Cyd Charisse (1922-2008) in the most beautiful of these films, Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon (1953), where the lightness and irony are colored by resignation and mild melancholy.

In Minnelli's Ziegfield Follies (1946), Fred Astaire met the musical's new big name, Gene Kelly, and the difference in two styles was obvious: Astaire's elegant and effortless and Kelly's more down-to-earth and technically demonstrative. In later decades, Astaire often played character roles, for example, in On the Beach (1959).

Died on June 22, 1987.

last updated October 2022

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