Biography of Fred Astaire (1899-1987)

Fred Astaire.

Actor, dancer, singer and choreographer of American cinema, born on May 10, 1899 in Omaha (Nebraska) and died on June 22, 1987 in Los Angeles (California), whose real name was Frederick Austerlitz.


This illustrious son of a couple of Austrian immigrants, born to dance, it became soon known in circles 'music hall'. Artistic partnership with his sister Adele - which they say was most gifted for dancing own Fred-formed from the age of seven. In 1917, he/she made his debut on Broadway, where it remained for space fifteen years during which participated in the popular musical comedies by Ira and George Gershwin and Kern, in as prestigious as the Ziegfeld and Shubert companies. Their family relationship conditioned them to playing characters with few romantic nuances, but their virtuous numbers were full of humour and self-confidence. Adele left his brother to marry in 1932 with an English lord, so that same year, Fred began his solo career with the cheerful divorce play, medium was not you too nice to the young Astaire, so I was left wanting by the fledgling Hollywood films spoken, Sung and danced.

Experts tend to divide the career of Astaire in three parts, which are his early years (1933-1939) in the RKO; a period of transition, which would go from the year 1940 until 1943; and finally, your contract is designated with Arthur Freed, producer of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer, from 1945, as the start of the third stage, performing in some of the most famous musicals in the history of the genre.

The same year of his debut, in 1933, with the film soul dancer Robert Z. Leonard, a vehicle for showcasing one of the couples in the fashion of those years, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, which plays himself (as also did Nelson Eddy), is flying to Rio de Janeiro (1933), of Thornton Freeland, with Ginger Rogers , who would be his 'partner' over nine of the ten musicals performed for the RKO (not counting his reunion a decade later in coming back to me, 1949, Charles Walters). From here, Fred Astaire, despite that now legendary value judgment that would issue a producer in his first film test: "can't Act, is slightly bald, danced a little," will begin a triumphal March of hits, solo or with the best singers or dancers of the screen: apart from the Rogers, which will be undoubtedly one of the artistic couples most important celluloidHe also worked with Lucille Bremer, Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Cyd Charisse, etc.

In his next film, the cheerful divorcee (1934), of Mark Sandrich, makes first protagonist duo with Ginger Rogers, and also undertakes together which will be your companion in these years, Hermes Pan choreography. Followed by top hat (1935) Mark Sandrich, which performed the choreography, sings a song that will be legendary, "Chek to chek" and is forged an image elegant and full of humor of weightless tap dancer. And the musical comedy of the thirty reach final maturity in the sixth and best film of the couple, on the wings of dance (1936), directed this time by George Stevens , and with music by the winners of the Oscar Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, including the beautiful "The Way You Look Tonight". Whether singing 'A Fine Romance' in a snowy garden, whether it is posing as a mediocre dancer who plays the "Pick Yourself Up" either appears made up of black, a tribute Bill Bojangles Robinson, Fred Astaire starred in a film with fine humor, concise dialogues and a series of numbers which are integrated perfectly into the amorous intrigue.

At the same time, Astaire staged a production of the RKO entitled Lady in distress (1937), by George Stevens, in which his partner was Joan Fontaine. As the experiment did not work too well, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire returned to star in three musical comedies most, Ritmo Loco (1937), Mark Sandrich; Amanda (1938), also of Mark Sandrich, the most comic of the series, and the story of Irene Castle (1939), H.C. Potter, finished which both decided to take different paths. Thus, Astaire, before signing with the Metro, starred in some films which pass unnoticed by the box office without penalty and does not add anything to his career. In 1945 begins with the producer Arthur Freed at MGM, the film with Yolanda and the Thief, Vincente Minnelli, a film in which plays the role of a thief that is unforgettable, and gives the replica Lucille Bremer, who replaced Judy Garlandat last moment.

In these years, Astaire filmed some of the best numbers of his career, as the tunes of Broadway 1955 (1953), beside Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, or as the from Ziegfeld Follies (1946), both directed by Minnelli, alongside some of the best dancers and singers of the American musical, such as Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams , Cyd CharisseJudy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Fanny Brice and the own Lucille Bremer; also many of the most innovative, with partners as diverse as a MOP, a coat rack or furniture, the walls and even the ceiling of the room of Royal Wedding (1951), Stanleydonen. Also in these years made some of the best solos of the history of the American musical, the Easter Parade (1948) and the beautiful Moscow (1952), both of Charles Walters, especially.

Between 1955 and 1957, a more mature Astaire intervened in three musical romantic: dad long legs (1955), Jean Negulesco, who joined to a young Leslie Caron; A face with angel (1957), Stanley donen, was the opportunity to watch together to Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, that already had interpreted the role thirty years earlier in dishes of Broadway, and the beautiful in Moscow (1957), Rouben Mamoulian, a musical remake of Ninotchka of Garboand Lubitsch , making perfect couple with Cyd Charisse, in what would be the last film of its magnificent director.

Since then and until the end of his career, he/she participated in musicals, such as the Valley's Rainbow (1968), Francis Ford Coppola; It was co-narrador in those musical anthologies titled once upon a time in Hollywood (1974), Jack Haley Jr. and Hollywood, Hollywood (1976), Gene Kelly, and made it very clear that, in addition to dancing, it could be a superb dramatic actor, in the final time (1959), Stanley Kramer. Academics decide then to reward his dramatic skills and nominated to the Oscar by the Colossus in flame (1974), John Gillermin, who will not win because the Godfather II hoarder year is part and Robert de Niro. But, many years earlier, in 1949, the Academy had already recognized him with an honorary Oscar for his contribution to the development, technique and Visuality of the American musical, for which, without doubt, has been its most dazzling star.


1933: Soul of the dancer; Flying to Rio de Janeiro. 1934: The cheerful divorced (and choreography). 1935: Roberta (and choreography); Hat Cup (and choreography). 1936: follow the fleet (choreography); On the wings of dance. 1937: Miss in disgrace (and choreography); Crazy rhythm. 1938: Amanda (and choreography). 1939: the story of Irene Castle. 1940: The new melody of Broadway 1940; At the end alone. 1941: Since that kiss. 1942: Holiday Inn; Dancing was born the love (and choreography). 1943: the limit is the sky (and choreography). 1945: Yolanda and the Thief.1946: Ziegfeld Follies; Blue Sky (and additional music). 1948: Easter (and choreography not accredited) parade. 1949: coming back to me. 1950: Three Little Words (and choreography); Let's Dance. 1951: Royal Weddings. 1952: The beautiful New York. 1953: 1955 Broadway melodies. 1954: Deep in My Heart. 1955: Pope long legs (and choreography). 1957: A face with angel (choreography); The beauty of Moscow. 1959: The final hour. 1961: His pleasant company (and choreography). 1962: the mysterious Lady in black. 1968: Rainbow Valley. 1969: Midas Run. 1974: Once upon a time in Hollywood (conarrador); The towering Inferno. 1976: Hollywood, Hollywood (conarrador); The amazing dobermans. 1977: A taxi mauve. 1981: A macabre history.

Actor in a Television Series: 1968-70: It Takes a Thief.

Productions in which gave his voice: 1964: Paris - When It Sizzles (non accreditato). 1970: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Narrator). 1977: Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town.

Invited in Television Series: 1953: General Electric Theater - in the episode entitled a Imp On a Cobweb Leash-. 1954: Toast of the Town.1961: Alcoa premiere - in the episode titled Blues for a Hanging-. 1964: The Hollywood Palace. 1978: Battlestar Galactica - in the episode titled The Man with Nine Lives.

TV productions: 1970: The Over the Hill Gang Rides Again.1978: A Family Upside Down. 1979: The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. 1984: george Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey.


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PASSEK, Jean-Luc, et to the. Dictionary of cinema. (Librairie Larousse, 1986), (Spanish version of Miguel Urabayen Cascante [Madrid: Rialp, S.A., 1991]).