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The History of Fred Astaire

# Dance Culture

Frederick Austerlitz, born on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska, became a monumental figure in the world of dance and entertainment. His over seventy years career brought revolutionary changes to film and television through his innovative style. Astaire's exceptional talent has left an enduring legacy, cementing his status as one of the greatest dancers in history.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Fred Astaire's introduction to the world of dance began at an early age. Alongside his sister, Adele, he formed a vaudeville act, "Fred and Adele Astaire," which quickly gained popularity. The duo's impeccable timing, elegance, and charm captivated audiences, leading to their Broadway debut in 1917. Their success continued with a series of hit shows, including "Funny Face" (1927) and "The Band Wagon" (1931).

Transition to Hollywood

After Adele retired in 1932, Fred Astaire faced the challenge of transitioning from a successful stage career to the burgeoning film industry. His screen test was famously noted as unimpressive, with one executive stating, "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." However, this critique did not deter him. In 1933, Astaire made his film debut in "Dancing Lady" and subsequently signed with RKO Radio Pictures.

The Astaire-Rogers Era

Astaire's partnership with Ginger Rogers became one of the most iconic duos in cinematic history. Their chemistry on-screen was undeniable, and together, they redefined dance in film. They starred in ten films together, including classics such as "Top Hat" (1935), "Swing Time" (1936), and "Shall We Dance" (1937). Their routines were characterized by intricate choreography, seamless synchronization, and a blend of elegance and energy that captivated audiences worldwide.

Innovation in Dance and Film

Fred Astaire was not just a performer; he was a visionary who revolutionized dance on film. He insisted on full-body shots to showcase the choreography without the distraction of cutaways or close-ups. His collaboration with choreographers like Hermes Pan resulted in some of the most memorable dance sequences in film history. Astaire's routines were meticulously crafted, blending various dance styles, including tap, ballroom, and jazz.

Later Career and Legacy

Astaire's career continued to flourish well into the later years of his life. He starred in successful films such as "Easter Parade" (1948) alongside Judy Garland and "Funny Face" (1957) with Audrey Hepburn. In addition to his film work, Astaire ventured into television, winning an Emmy for his performance in "An Evening with Fred Astaire" (1958).

Fred Astaire's influence extended beyond the dance floor. He was a fashion icon known for his impeccable style and sophisticated demeanor. His contributions to music are also noteworthy, having introduced many classic songs that became standards, such as "Cheek to Cheek" and "Puttin' on the Ritz."

Personal Life

Astaire was married twice, first to Phyllis Potter from 1933 until her death in 1954, and then to Robyn Smith in 1980. He had two children, Fred Jr. and Ava, with his first wife. Despite his public persona, Astaire was known to be a private and humble individual, dedicated to his craft and family.


Fred Astaire passed away on June 22, 1987. His story is a testament to the power of talent, perseverance, and passion, forever etching his name in the annals of dance history.



Fred Astaire's journey from vaudeville to Hollywood stardom is a testament to enduring artistry and influence. His dedication to perfecting his craft and pioneering dance on film has left a lasting legacy, enchanting and inspiring generations. For dance enthusiasts and classic cinema lovers alike, Astaire's contributions are a timeless reminder of the magic created when talent meets opportunity..

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