Were we still fortunate enough to have him with us, Fred Astaire would be 110 years old today.
A true gentleman and always immaculately dressed, Fred was an entertainer from the old world – a professional dancer from the age of 6, he sang, danced and acted his way into the hearts of movie lovers around the world during the ’30s to the ’70s.
I once saw him on Parkinson: he sat at the piano and pulled out sheets of music handwritten for him by Ira Gershwin. Many of the songs we now consider “standards” were originally written for Fred to sing – “Night and Day” by Cole Porter, “Top Hat” by Irving Berlin and of course the Gershwin brothers with “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and others.
We play a lot of Fred’s music at Circa – not bad for a man who claimed that he “couldn’t sing”. By the back door is a life-sized poster of Fred and Ginger Rogers. Every morning I open up, I meet his gleaming eye and glance at Ginger, reclining in his arms – she looks like the luckiest woman in the world. Yep, they sure don’t make them like they used to.
Happy birthday Fred!
Fred and Ginger: Too Hot to Handle (1935).
Fred: Puttin’ On the Ritz (Blue Skies 1946).