Disclaimer: Clicking on the links in this post may result in unwanted spoilers. Read at your own risk.
This post was coming eventually. I was sure of it. I mean, he has my heart, he’s on my blog banner, he was a big inspiration in starting tap lessons, the music he introduced is just plain wonderful, etc. I do have a second, logical reason though. I’ve posted links to my favorite Astaire videos on my blog before, but the links are all broken now. The user that was my main source of Astaire videos has decided to shut down his/her YouTube account. *sniffle* I’ve decided to compile a list of all my favorite Astaire songs before someone decides to take these treasures off YouTube, for whatever stupid reason.
Before I get to the man himself, I’d like to focus on my favorite partner of his, Ginger Rogers. I’m not sure who Astaire’s favorite partner was, but hands down, Ginger was the best in my opinion. She was a fine, fine actress, and responded to Fred’s dancing perfectly. Yes, she might not have been as technically skilled as his other partners, but those two produced a wonderful magic that I can’t even begin to describe. Aside from the fact that she was a wonderful actress and decent dancer, I love her dresses. Every time I see Ginger in them, it makes me wish I knew how to make dresses so I could wear them myself. Even if the style was decades before my time, I really wish we could get back to wearing Old Hollywood dresses. There is a notable exception, however, and a rather famous one at that. Check out this ostentatious dress! Would you wear it? Personally, I wouldn’t. There is a story behind the dress, according to IMDb…
For the “Cheek to Cheek” number, Ginger Rogers wanted to wear an elaborate blue dress heavily decked out in ostrich feathers. When director Mark Sandrich and Fred Astaire saw the dress, they knew it would be impractical for the dance. Sandrich suggested that Rogers wear the white gown she had worn performing “Night and Day” in The Gay Divorcee. Rogers walked off the set, finally returning when Sandrich agreed to let her wear the offending blue dress. As there was no time for rehearsals, Ginger Rogers wore the blue feathered dress for the first time during filming and as Astaire and Sandrich feared, feathers started coming off the dress. Astaire later claimed that it was like, “a chicken being attacked by a coyote”. In the final film, some stray feathers can be seen drifting off it. To patch up the rift between them, Astaire presented Rogers with a locket of a gold feather. This was the origin of Roger’s nickname “Feathers”. The shedding feathers episode was recreated with hilarious results in Easter Parade in which Fred Astaire danced with a clumsy, comical dancer played by Judy Garland.
Feather dresses aside, I do have my top three favorite dresses. My third is from the musical comedy Roberta. Did you know that the dress Ginger is wearing is actually her own? What fashion sense! My second is from the same movie, in this lovely scene. I think my jaw dropped the first time I saw her in that dress. It would make a gorgeous black dress, but I wonder what color the dress really was? Finally, my absolute favorite dress is in this beautiful, yet heart-wrenching number. There are no words. All know is that this my dream dress. I actually found a replica on Etsy, but it’s extremely expensive. Definitely out of my budget range. Click here if you feel like ogling and drooling.
Fred Astaire got his start in vaudeville, along with his sister Adele. I’m not sure what it was like, but if it was anything like this, boy did I miss out! He learned how to dance at a young age, though his sister initially outshone him. The dances he learned, like the Foxtrot, were initially popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle. Like I’ve said before, he’s my preference over Gene. Who else could dance so well that he puts sober people to shame when he’s slightly inebriated? (I know this isn’t a song, but this is one of my favorite videos.) His first pairing with Ginger was in the movie Flying Down to Rio, where they played secondary characters.
Out of all the Old Hollywood celebrities I know about, he’s introduced the most songs from the Great American Songbook. Take this Cole Porter song, for instance. I love this song, really. In modern times, one might view such a song as sexually predatory with a side order of stalker. The same goes for most of his movies. I choose not to look at it that way. Every time I’ve watched his movies, I’ve been uplifted, and my belief in fairy-tales has been restored. Sure the plots can be poor, but isn’t that a characteristic of fairy-tales? Moving on, a question for the younger people, near my age: Does this ditty sound familiar? How about this Gershwin song? This is actual my favorite number in the entire Astaire-Rogers movie series. It just enraptured me. Here’s the same song once again in Fred and Ginger’s final film together. Absolutely breathtaking. Then, there’s this annoyingly addictive song. (The title in the video is incorrect, but a glance at the description shows that the user actually knows the correct title.) There’s more, but that’s all I can think of at the moment.
Of course, Fred did amazing movies without Ginger, too. Check out these smooth moves! After this movie, Fred initially planned to retire, which upset a lot of people. Unfortunately, he couldn’t because he had to replace Gene Kelly in Easter Parade after Gene broke his foot. These songs tend to get stuck in my head all the time. There’s this one. (All that for a bunny?) Next, is this odd song that is surprisingly fun to sing. Finally, there’s this cute montage. I can’t forget his pairing with Audrey Hepburn, but I really only liked the title song.
I could go on, and on, listing more songs, but I won’t. If I’ve really piqued your interest, watch the movies. I’d like to leave you with one last number that I find quite hilarious. No, Fred isn’t in it, but it’s from one of his last movies called Silk Stockings. Enjoy.