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Frederic Austerlitz, Jr., was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 10, 1899. He entered show business at the age of 5, and, in partnership with his sister Adele, was successful in vaudeville and on Broadway. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Fred went to Hollywood. The man who evaluated Astaire's first screen test was not impressed -- "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." -- but he was signed by RKO anyway.
Astaire's first film appearance was in Dancing Lady (1933, while on loan to MGM), and it was in this film that he first wore the top hat and tails which became his trademark. He began his highly successful partnership with Ginger Rogers later that same year, co-starring with her in Flying Down to Rio (1933); the two would make a total of nine pictures together for RKO. He later appeared opposite a number of partners through various studios.
Astaire left the movie scene in 1945 to open the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, on which he concentrated his efforts through 1947. He then returned to film to star in more musicals through 1957, and subsequently performed a number of straight dramatic roles in film and television.
Fred Astaire died in Los Angeles on June 22, 1987.
Astaire was married twice
This page was last updated on 01/22/2017.