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Fred Astaire was an American dancer of stage and film who is best known for a number of successful musical comedy films in which he starred with Ginger Rogers.
Gene Kelly - Remembered (2:06)
Born on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska, Fred Astaire is regarded by many as the greatest popular music dancer of all time. Astaire is usually remembered for his pairings with Ginger Rogers.
Watch a short video about Fred Astaire and find out who this dynamic dancer called his favorite dance partner.
While filming "Singin' in the Rain," Gene Kelly was ill, his suits were shrinking underneath the hot lights, and he filmed for days in the rain. Despite all of this, he managed to perform one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
Gene Kelly made his mark on Hollywood and, through his work both in front of and behind the camera, transformed the movie musical.
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Around this time, Astaire received his only Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. He also won an Emmy Award for his work on the television special A Family Upside Down in 1978. More accolades soon followed. Astaire received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981.
A few years later, Astaire was hospitalized for pneumonia. He died on June 22, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. With his passing,
Hollywood had lost one of its greatest talents. Former actor and president Ronald Reagan, upon learning the news, called Astaire "an American legend" and "the ultimate dancer." Ginger Rogers said Astaire "was the best partner anyone could ever have."
Off-screen, Astaire was more casual than his upper-crust characters. He was devoted to his family. Astaire and his first wife, socialite Phyllis Baker Potter, married in 1933 and had two children together, Fred Jr. and Ava. He also helped raise her son from an earlier union. Fred and Phyllis remained a couple until her death in 1954.
Astaire shocked friends and family when he remarried in 1980. His second wife was Robyn Smith, a famous jockey. Despite a more than 40-year age difference, the pair's mutual interest in horses and racing turned into romance. After his death in 1987, his widow has been a fierce protector of his name and image. She has filed numerous lawsuits to prevent any unauthorized uses of his likeness or name. In 1997, however, she granted permission for film clips of Fred Astaire to be changed and used for a series of vacuum cleaner commercials.
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