Happy Birthday Frederick Austerlitz Fred Astaire
10 May 1899 - 22 June 1987
“When you talk about Fred Astaire, you talk about heaven. What more can I say?” - Johnny Green, Hollywood Speaks! An Oral History, 1974
“He was not just the best ballroom dancer, or tap dancer, he was simply the greatest, most imaginative, dancer of our time.” - Rudolph Nureyev, 1987
Fred Astaire was simply one of the most influential performers in film history. Not only did he revolutionise the way dance was performed and captured on film, he also had a profound influence on music and hollywood in general. In a time when the world needed something joyous, they got Fred Astaire; a talented, charismatic performer whose charming smile was exactly what movie-goers wanted. Notorious for being a perfectionist and crippled with self-consciousness he floated across the screen with effortless grace that continues to amaze today. Though he was never convinced of it, there can be no doubt that he achieved perfection.And at age seventy-eight, he broke his left wrist while riding his grandson’s skateboard.
You know, you so-and-so, you’ve a little of the hoodlum in you. - James Cagney on Fred Astaire in Top Hat, White Tie and Tails, from Top Hat (1935)
Fred Astaire with Johnny Green and His Orchestra
The Way You Look Tonight (1936)
Fred Astaire plots out new routines at his in-laws’ home in Aiken, S.C. by George Karger for LIFE, December 1940.
George Karger, who has photographed enough dancers to qualify as an expert, came back from South Carolina with the report that he had found the world’s most perfect material for dance pictures. In the first place, Astaire’s every motion is so graceful that it is impossible to photograph him in an awkward position. In the second, due to Astaire’s movie training, the camera never caught him with an arm in front of his face. “With some dancers you have to wait for hours,” he said, “but with Astaire, every motion made a picture.”
Favourite Classic Films (in no particular order)
Easter Parade (1948), dir. Charles Walters
Why didn’t you tell me I was in love with you?
→ Easter Parade (1948)Don Hewes: A girl dancer has to be exotic; she has to be - a peach.
Hannah Brown: I suppose I’m a lemon!
365 Film Challenge - Funny Face
Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire practicing the ‘Shorty George’ routine from You Were Never Lovelier on top of the studio roof, 1942