You know what?? I must start this... with an applegy! I 'THOUGHT' I had (and I had - I know I had) ..done the story on Fred Astaire.. I know I had because A) I remember doing it... B) When I started the site - Fred was amongst the first... & C) Because a friend who had previously read it- went back to read it agaain and twas gone. I DID NOT remove it - DID NOT KNOW it was removed - and nearly temporarily shut my site down while I got it back up. For without Fred Astaire - NO SITE on Hollywood... and especially one called Hollywood Legends, is complete! My embarrassing apologies for this slip - to ANY who might've tried looking Fred up... I want it known, that in NO WAY did I mean to exclude Fred from the legends lineup - for he IS up at the top amongst a FEW others that is essential to ANY Hollywood entertainers story site. My feeling is that when I moved the site from where it started as a Yahoo! geocities site (remember those??) and somehow it got left out for some stupid reason. Again - this is VERY VERY VERY embarrassing!! To say the least!! Ishhh! Annnyway..
Try doing a google search for Fred Astaire.. and dancing schools in your area will probably pop up! 😂 But it IS fitting. The song 'Putting on the Ritz' is referenced for Freds sake... There you have it! Indeed - he showed us what putting on the ritz is - many times over! Defining it & setting the bar very, VERY high! To this day, it remains untouched! Before I go ANNY further - I must THANK Kristie McNabb for her INVALUABLE help on this 'un!
What tickles your fancy?? For Fred? Twas a pair of tap shoes!! NO DOUBT about it - this guy was a TRUE lean, mean, dancin' machine, (just watch!! He'll dance long as you care to watch!! FoSho! 👍)! To my knowledge (which is extensive on Fred) - no one has EVER out tapped this fella. He indeed could tap a tap that would make paps - jaw drop!! FO REALS!
Mack Sennett went to see Fred Astaire at the Hollywood Bowl to .."see what all the fuss hu-bubbl-lou was about. Said he - "He came out to this wowing roaring thunderous crowd... took a bow... then tilted his right foot up. From there his foot turned into a blur. I never have seen anything like it. Through the blur - each tap was heard AND felt! Through the blur I DID see that his shoes were black and grey - but there's only so much you can see through a blur.' He continued - "I didn't know the human body could move so skilled and beautifully. There could've been a shooting star flying through the air and still - I don't know if it'd have been that wonderful. I went to see what the fuss was all about - and I left as 'part' of the buzz creating the fuss!' 'I was mesmerized the entire time!' ... Words of sincerity from the Father of Comedy, Mack Sennett. I've never been big on critics- UNLESS it is - Mack Sennett talking. He was SPOT on & could tell you what was perfect, and what needed to be worked on if you were an actor. He discovered IMO the greatest entertainer of All-time, Sir Charles Chaplin!! MmBut yeah - HERE is Mack Sennett's story, THIS is Fred Astaire's - and it begins NOW...
Fred Astaire was born Fredrick Austerlitz, on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska. They lived here in this modest home. The son of immigrants - and brother to a persistent dancin' sista! His sister, Adele, had to pull (with all she HAD) for Fred to join her on the dance floor. Fred resisted at every level. When she 'FINALLY' got him to dance with her... He AMAZED Adele, and even himself.
He would state in later interviews that he 'agreed as a goof to his sister - to humor her.' 'Something, however, took over... It was as if something was stimulating my feet, and legs.'
Fred and Adele's immigrant father was very skilled in 'brewing' as his trade. It needs noted that skill in brewing is a fine trade, if you have the talent for it... Which Fred and Adele's daddy did! My dad has a friend who is a brewer/distributor of fine beer and as a result.. His fridge is always plentiful with unusual beer and labels for it. FoSho'Nuff! After seeing Fred and Adele's dance from a glance - he was mesmerized. All of a sudden - Fred and Adele's brother/sister act was BEAUTiful for an idea! Magnified no doubt I am sure by the green money tinge of it - smell and ALL!
After quitting his job - the family moved to New York with a new goal... 'Vaudeville!!'
It was the summer of 1905 - and a beaming father had BIG plans for his 2 young ones. They began their training here. Fred and Adele quickly established a perfect, rousing routine. The scenario was a perfect one... For Fred's weaknesses turned out to be Adele's strong suits.. And vice-a-versa. Fred and Adele's mother suggested they use the last name, 'Adaire' after an estranged family members. And history 'has it!' In New York -
This was their dwelling place. 2nd floor! I'm sure the occupants below them had ever present sounds of dancing in their heads a-constant! I can't say what 'their' reaction was - but if it were me?? I'd kill the radio, any hums, or animal making noise in the vicinity, soz I could hear Fred & Adele, tappin'!! (JUST KIDDIN'!! So sad one must put that now-a-day. If one didn't - the opportune for the FBI knocking on the door'd be there.) My point? Those melodic sounds of the duo dancing, would indeed be sweet visions and music to my head!
They created a routine in which Fred would wear his top hat and tails for the 1st half, and a lobster suit, to end it out in the 2nd half. Fred's daughter has said that 'they used the top hat to make Fred look taller.' Adele's outfit in the routine never changed. Their first public performance was in a New Jersey theater. It was a RAVING, RAGING, success! A local newspaper dubbed the duo... 'The best act in Vaudeville!' Apparently unaware they weren't 'IN' Vaudeville... Yet anyway! Thomas Edison was reportedly there shooting it, though, I have not found the evidence of that - but if I do - I will throw it up with an update IMMEDIATELY!
Their show went on and on and on and on. All the while the duo was developing a sweet and unique following of admirers.. From newspapers to the general public... It seemed EVERYONE in and around the New York, New Jersey area was talking about the rising duo!! Word spread quick and fast and then??
KER-CHAaannNG! You knew that was coming, didn't you?!? Fred and Adele quickly nabbed a Vaudeville contract with the famed Orpheum Theater circuit. The duo went from performing in a relatively small area - to playing Illinois, west to Cali, and EVERY southern state in-between. The duo was in HIGH demand! Sometimes doing 2-3 shows a day at the same or different (varied) venues. After 2 years their contract was nearing completion - and here come - the Gerry Society! The same exact group who attempted to stick it to Buster Keaton's dad - after a performance in which young Buster was thrown 'likeuhRAGDOLL' across the stage. They even had Buster's dad in handcuff.. That is until Buster breezed through adjusting his bowtie smiling. Upon that they let him go... But yeah! THAT group.. After listening to them present their bull shit for what seemed like forever (no doubt wishing they had a shovel for the smellies of the bull shit that I am sure was getting knee deep)... the smellies (Gerry Society) left.
Fred & Adele's dad had been facing a dilemma for a few months anyway. It seemed the course of nature had spoken.. Giving Adele a lift of 3 inches in height over her brother Fred. This lift so generously provided by nature had made them look awkward in performance.. Like they were out of sync. So 'that' - along with the visit from the smellies (Gerry Society) - Fred and Adele's dad deemed it best to take some time off to let nature finish in taking her course. They now had the money abundant to do so.. and chose not to renew their contract upon expiration of it...
After the break - the duo resumed dance - stronger, longer, bigger, and better than ever! Word spread quick and the New York Times wrote as the headline... THE DANCING DUO..IS BACK!' Fred, at the young age of 14, had a tick for music and thus... GREAT taste. As such - he was given the reins of choice of music for he and his sister. As we now know - Fred had GREAT taste in music!! In 1917, the duo broke onto Broadway (which was just a couple blocks from their dance school they started at,) with a new energy and new routine. As usual the duo razz-a-ma-dazzy-dazzled 'em!! Invites to play at theaters all over were plentiful, & in HIGH demand! By 1918 - Fred was beginning to (without meaning to) steal Adele's thunder. Nevertheless - the 2 went hand in hand.
The duo continued to, razz-a-ma-dazzy-dazzle em, until Adele was married in 1932. She retired to be a full-time wife yet, didn't retire her name fosho.. Atta Girl! I don't blame her one bit - I'd have done the same. Fred 'tried' to be happy for her but, inside it was heartbreaking for him. Twas showbiz though and 'the show must go on'... which is just what Fred did! On his own - he innerweaved threads and moves he had wanted to do for years.. The result?? EXPLOSIVE shows was just a start.. & finding a ticket to one of these shows was a rarity! Hollywood, (namely RKO), began to say 'haaaay'... Offers were made - some considered. Finally - they made him an offer he couldn't refuse and a screen test was ordered by the IMO 'confused' stepson of LB Mayer - David Selznick (prez of RKO)... Who coincidentally signed Fred. The screen test?? As grapevine has it - the reel (now missing) had a note attached on it that read... 'Can't act, slightly bald, can dance a little.' Who said early Hollywood 'ALWAYS' got it right?? To make the matter even more insulting - David Selznick felt the desire to respond saying... 'I am uncertain about the man but feel - in spite of his enormous ears, and a bad chin line - that his charm is so tremendous &comes through even on this wretched test.' No doubt, Fred didn't know whether to laugh, or cry.. To hug 'em or give 'em the flying finger... While trying to figure how to move forward! But he did and his debut on the big screen came in 1933, when RKO lent him to MGM to appear alongside Joan Crawford in the appropriately titled 'Dancing Lady.' What would follow was a sweet Hollywood history!! Though most famous for his part'ner-ship with Ginger Rogers ... his other 'sex appeals' were
Fred remained unusually active into his 80s.. Just TRY finding an 75 year old skateboarder nowadays. He took up skateboarding in his early 70s. He broke his wrist on his grandson's skateboard at age 78. Fred was a lifelong horse racing enthusiast and on June 24, 1980 - married a 36 year old racehorse jockey named Robyn Smith. A famed horse jockey, who'd made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1972. Their forever and ever lasted only 7 years & was marred by Fred's health problems.
Nearing the end of his life - Fred was living here. Here's his gate... He'd been ill with pneumonia in the weeks leading to his death. Mr. Jacko was purported to have visited Fred and told Michael... 'I didn't want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was, Thank you Michael.'
On the morning June 22, 1987... Fred died from pneumonia, at the age of 88. The world of entertainment was a LOT sadder!! R.I.P. Fred! Thanks for the musicals! No doubt your now doing SOLD OUT shows in heaven! You can leave your virtual respects here for Fred here.
MMmmhmm .. Fred was had by Sid! The result?
EVERYONE loved Fred!! Mister Jacko loved Fred! He was great friends with legend Robert Stack! One of my all-time favorite pix!
Wanna see his star?? His siggy?? His daughters home? Hellu Ava!