Where is Fred Astaire when you need him?


In reponse to this St Pete Times article, my brother Mack sent this in…

Dear Mr. Fleming,

Regarding Ginger Roger infamous line that ‘she did exactly what Fred
did for half the pay, backwards and in heels’, please consider that …

She only deserved half the pay since it was Fred that carried her.

He went on to dance very well with other leading ladies (Cyd Charisse, Audrey Hepburn, Barrie Chase) and even performed once with
with Gene Kelly. Meanwhile Ginger… did not. That is, Ginger really
never danced again in the same romantic fashion with another leading
man. No other man was an Astaire, not even Mr. Kelly.

For Ginger to have ever compared her dancing abilities with Fred
Astaire’s creative mastery is ridiculous at the very least. He made
memorable dance scenes all by himself in several movies and really
didn’t need Ginger at all.

Fred could also sing better than Ginger as demonstrated by all
those Gershwin and Cole Porter tunes he made so popular. Ginger had
one mediocre vocal with ‘Let yourself go’ in 1936.

In fairness, Ginger was a talented actress long before Fred came
along but it was still Fred who made the world notice her. Her acting
abilities were excellent and her success was very well deserved. Her
dance talent was also tremendous. She was so beautiful, so graceful
and all the while making Fred’s performance so much easier. She was
the perfect partner for him no doubt about it.

The reason for my addressing this issue today is only because I find
it annoying that the current musical ‘ Backwards in High Heels’ is so
offensive to the history of Fred Astaire, in my opinion. It’s like
listening to a Gloria Steinem rant about fish, men and bicycles.

One again history is being rewritten to accommodate women’s
interest. At no time was Ginger Rogers ever in the same dancing
league as Fred was. In fact Fred proved this issue perfectly all by
himself himself. Or, more specifically, he danced with a chair and
the chair looked very talented indeed.

Thanks for your time,
M. Beasley

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2 thoughts on “Where is Fred Astaire when you need him?

  1. Astaire was good, but he is so revered that it becomes sacrilege to suggest that he was not the epitome of cinema dance. I think he was most charming when he danced with Ginger. Ginger had real charisma. As far as your comment about Mr. Kelly not being Mr. Astaire, I grateful that he was not, because I find Kelly’s dancing more aesthetically pleasing. Gene Kelly has the power to instill pure joy in the viewer!

    1. Essentially Mr. Astaire created the art of dance for broadway and the silver screen. He was dancing from the time he was 4 years old and that was about 1902 or 1903. By the time the early 30’s came along Mr. Astaire had established himself as the icon of modern dance, at least for men. He almost exclusively created the ‘Continental’ the combination of dance and song together. Thats the reason for the reverence.

      As for Gene Kelly his only knock is that he wasn’t first. Thats it. He was considerably younger than Fred but he certainly garnered Mr. Astaires respect. Although a fantastic dancer Mr. Kelly really didn’t produce the overall body of work that Fred Astaire did. This is probably because Americas taste in movies and music was changing and dancing roles were not quite as popular during the late 50’s and 60’s as they had been earlier. Mr. Kellys ‘singing in the rain’ bit was as perfect as the masters work.
      Plus, It’s all in what you like.

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