Friday, June 24, 2011

Fred Astaire's autobiography "Steps in Time" - Review/Reflections by Robert Steven Mack

While I returned to school last fall, I discovered that of the eighty kids going through sixth grade that there were few others besides me who had seen a film with Fred Astaire short of even knowing who he is. And that’s a shame because Mr. Astaire, who had a career spanning nine decades was one of the greatest performers who ever danced his way into the minds of people like me and inspiring them to go beyond their limits of imagination.

Selected movies: Fred Astaire (May 10, 1899-June 22, 1987) was a dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, and producer. He started out in vaudeville at age five with his sister and worked their way up to Broadway. In 1931 they split up and Fred made his motion picture debut in 1933 with the film “Dancing Lady.” In the same year, he and Ginger Rogers made their first movie together. They would make eight more in the thirties and one more in the fifties. Throughout the forties and fifties Mr. Astaire made several more movies with MGM, Paramount, and Twentieth Century Fox. His last film was Ghost Story in 1981. Some of his films include: Dancing Lady (1933-danced with Joan Fountain), Flying Down To Rio (1933-first film with Ginger Rogers), Top Hat (1935) Swing Time (1936), Damsel In Distress (1937-first film without Ginger Rogers), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), You’ll Never Get Rich (1941-with Rita Hayworth), You were Never Lovelier (1942), Ziegfeld Follies (1945), Blue Skies (1946-with Bing Crosby), Three Little Words (1950-with Red Skelton & Vera Ellen), The Band Wagon (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Funny Face (1957-with Audrey Hepburn), Silk Stockings (1958-last film for MGM) , Finial’s Rainbow (1968-last musical film), The Towering Inferno (1974), Ghost Story (1981).

Fred Astaire’s autobiography – Steps in Time:I must say that I did not know what to expect when my mother first got Astaire’s “Steps In Time,” for me in November of last year. At the time I had yet to read a full-blown Hollywood memoire. The book is quite simply written and down to the point. Mr. Astaire cleverly gives his story in a sleek fashion. It is written for anybody who has seen at least five of his films. The great artist starts his book out by talking about his age, temper, and image but after that gives you a factual, sometimes quite humorous account of his life on the set and off. You only wish he could have given you the complete details of his life before he thought his career was over, as the book was written in 1959. Let me say this: you could not get a better account of his life than in Steps In Time.

Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

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