‘Shall We Dance’ in Honor of Fred Astaire’s Birthday Today

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Let’s face it, Fred Astaire was perhaps one of the most recognized and beloved dancers/actors of all time. He was born Frederick Austerlitz on May 10, 1899, so we celebrate his birthday today! Growing up, Fred and his sister Adele learned to dance based on their mother’s suggestion. She reportedly wanted her children to be famous and eventually took them to New York for professional training in 1906.

As they began their careers, their last names were changed to Astaire and they excelled in vaudeville and later Broadway. When Adele decided to retire, Fred’s career only took off from there.

THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, 1949

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He teamed up with the beautiful Ginger Rogers in many films including Top Hat (1935), Carefree (1938), and Shall We Dance (1937), and the two are well-known for their dancing abilities. At first, Fred was hesitant to dance with anyone long-term besides his sister but the chemistry between them was undeniable and created some incredible movie scenes.

Fred’s career spanned over 70 years until his death in 1987 of pneumonia. Some of his best films also include Holiday Inn (1942), Easter Parade (1948), The Band Wagon (1953), Funny Face (1957), and Silk Stockings (1957). In a list of 100 stars, the American Film Insitute named him the fifth-greatest male star of Classic Hollywood cinema in 100 years. He received a plethora of honors during his lifetime including two Golden Globes and a Grammy.

EASTER PARADE, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, 1948.

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Fred tried to retire twice but Hollywood kept calling him back. Even after moving from movies to television, he never really gave up his dancing shoes. He created several musical specials on television in the ’50s and ’60s and his final acting credit was in the 1981 film Ghost Story. He also branched out doing some voice work roles in the ’70s. You may also recognize his voice for narrating the Animagic Rankin/Bass specials including Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970) and The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town (1977).

Fred Astaire, "Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town"

©2023 Miser Bros Press/Rick Goldschmidt Archives


FINIAN'S RAINBOW, Fred Astaire, 1968

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Two biopics are currently in the works about Fred’s life. One focuses on the team of Fred and Ginger while the other on Fred and Adele’s relationship and career with Tom Holland starring as Fred. However, when he was alive Fred turned down many scripts for biopics and stated that he never wanted a biopic about his life and even added a clause requesting it in his will. He said, “It is there because I have no particular desire to have my life misinterpreted, which it would be.” Fans are now divided about the biopic because of this clause.

GHOST STORY, Fred Astaire, 1981

Universal/Everett Collection

Happy birthday, Fred!

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