Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10 - Fred Astaire

Dancer, choreographer and singer Fred Astaire was born Frederick Austerlitz on May 10, 1899, in Omaha. At age 6 he and his sister performed a vaudeville dance act, and by the 1920s they danced in stage musicals in New York and London. In Hollywood, despite a lackluster screen test, he made his mark in “The Gay Divorcee” (1934), dancing and singing Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” with Ginger Rogers. Of the 31 musical films in his career, he made 10 with Rogers, including “Top Hat” (1935), “Follow the Fleet” (1936), “Swing Time” (1936), “Shall We Dance” (1937) and “Carefree” (1938). Six were RKO Radio Pictures’ biggest moneymakers. Several of Astaire’s most famous dance scenes occurred in “Royal Wedding” (1951), including the song "You're All the World to Me" in which he danced on the walls and ceiling of a specially-made set. The gravity-defying trick was accomplished by rotating the entire set (along with an attached camera and camera operator) on an axis while Astaire remained upright.

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