A Tribute to Fred Astaire
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(This article was originally written in May, 1999, in celebration of the Astaire Centennial. It has been updated several times since then.)
Many say he was the greatest dancer in movie history. Some even say he was one of the greatest jazz singers. His acting ability improved with age; in fact, his first and only Oscar nomination came in 1975, for Best Supporting Actor in The Towering Inferno, when he was 76 years old. On the other hand, there was the studio drone whose opinion reportedly was, “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.”
Balding or not, there has never been anybody else quite like Fred Astaire. He made 51 theatrical films and TV movies, and not one of them could be called “bad.” Even The Over-the-Hill-Gang Rides Again (1970) and The Amazing Dobermans (1976) were enlivened by his presence.
With Ginger Rogers, who did everything Fred did, but backwards, he was one-half of the most famous dance team ever. He was also a master choreographer, known for a perfectionism that was in stark contrast to what appeared to be an almost effortless grace on the screen.
You can learn almost anything you want to about Fred Astaire and his long career by visiting the sites listed in this four-part article.
Part I: Introduction
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find His Movies
Part IV: Photos, Art, and Posters