'Ello Followers! (all 40 of you!)
It's St. Valentine's Day and what better way to celebrate, but to talk about my favorite on-screen couple, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? There is no better way, so we shall proceed:
Heaven, I'm in Heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.
Cheek to Cheek from Top Hat (1935)
Fred Astaire, born Frederic Austerlitz Jr. in 1899, started dancing at a young age. He danced successfully alongside his sister Adele until 1932 when she retired in favor of marriage. At that point, Fred went to Hollywood and got a part in 1933's Dancing Lady. That same year, he played in Flying Down to Rio alongside a girl named Ginger Rogers.
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in 1911. When she was 14 she won a Charleston contest, she was in vaudeville until she was 17, and in 1929 she went to Hollywood. She had a first real breakthrough in 42nd Street (1933). And later that year, she got a part in Flying Down to Rio.
That’s where the partnership began, fourth and fifth billing in someone else’s vehicle, but they were well-received. Even though, at first, Astaire didn’t want to repeatedly team up with Rogers they made 10 movies in all: Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936), Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall we Dance? (1937), Carefree (1938), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), and The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).
Nine movies over the period of six years and one later film starring the same pair begs the question “why did they make so many movies together?”. Of course, a probable reason is the fact that they, as a pair, were the third top box-office draw (after Shirley Temple and Clark Gable) during the 30s. Then there’s this little thing about their being perfect together…
Freddie and Ginger are my favorites, so any thoughts to come are completely biased, but who can honestly say that they weren’t great together, anyway?
Chemistry? Ginger and Fred had buckets of it. Have you ever seen them look at each other?! There’s more in one of their mutual glances than some couples have in a whole movie. And, while they did have some steamy stares, even their smiles at each other are contagious. I don’t think anyone ever looked as if they had as more pure fun working together than Fred and Ginger. Take for example the “Pick Yourself Up” scene from Swing Time – they smile the whole darned time.
Ginger claims they weren't best friends off-screen, even though she does admit that they had fun while they were working. She also said of Freddie, “I adore the man. I always have adored him. It was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me, being teamed with Fred”. The great man repays the compliment in saying of his favorite leading lady, “Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually, she made things very fine for the both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success.”
Fred and Ginger were a perfect pair, and their personalities meshed like nothing else. Freddie was all charm, and Ginger was purely adorable. While Fred was happily tapping his way into our hearts, Ginger was right behind him with all of the spunk someone could ask for. Not to mention, they’re both witty and have great comedic timing, which brings me to think there may not be any one couple who are more purely fun to watch than Freddie and Ginger.
Of course, no article about Astaire and Rogers would be complete without an ode to their dancing. Fred Astaire was easily the best dancer of his or any generation, and Ginger Rogers was his most famous partner. The funny thing is, Ginger didn’t really dance - Freddie said, "Ginger had never danced with a partner before Flying Down to Rio. She faked it an awful lot. She couldn't tap and she couldn't do this and that ... but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong." When they danced it was like magic. Like a song. It was love come to life. I can’t say this without touching on their chemistry again, but watching Freddie dance with Ginger is love – sweet romance in its purest form.Even if Ginger wants to complain about it [she said: After all, it's not as if we were Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. We did have careers apart from each other.], I think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ names will always be connected. Can we keep from remembering them together when they were so wonderful? I think not! Trying to remember Fred without ever mentioning Ginger or vice versa would be like trying to remember the sky and not ever taking the stars into account!
Heaven, I'm in Heaven, and the cares that hung around me through the week, seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.
"Cheek to Cheek" from Top Hat (1935)
Happy St. Valentine's Day to all you lovely people!
Until Later On~