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Fred Astaire

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In 1948, Gene Kelly was scheduled to make Irving Berlin's EASTER PARADE with Judy Garland, but he broke an ankle and MGM talked Astaire out of his "retirement" to fill in. Fred plays an established song-and- dance man who attempts to break in a new partner (Judy) after his old partner (Ann Miller) leaves him to go solo.  At left is a still of Fred and Judy singing "A Couple of Swells," one of the film's most memorable numbers.  The success of EASTER PARADE lead the studio to plan another Astaire-Garland vehicle for the following year, but this time it was Judy who had to pull out due to illness, prompting Fred's reunion with Ginger Rogers in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY (1949), their tenth and final film together.


Fred and Judy singing "Snooky Ookums" in EASTER PARADE (1948).

Music Clips from EASTER PARADE:

Click here "A Couple of Swells" sung with Judy Garland (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).
Click here
"It Only Happens When I Dance with You" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).
Click here
"Steppin' Out with My Baby" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

(For help opening these files, visit the plug-ins page.)


Quickly becoming a staple of the Arthur Freed musical unit at MGM, Astaire was next cast alongside Red Skelton (at piano, left) and Vera-Ellen in THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950) Review, the story of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby's rise to fame -- including "some of their songs and some of their adventures."  Actually, the plot involves many more songs than adventures.

In addition to the loaded song list however, THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950) Review also features some memorable dance numbers, most notably "Thinking of You" and "Mr. and Mrs. Hoofer at Home," both danced by Astaire and Vera-Ellen.

Click hereHear Astaire and Anita Ellis (who dubbed Vera-Ellen's voice) sing some of "Where Did You Get That Girl?" from THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950). (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

Even More Memorable Quotations:

  • "I don't want the very best. I want you." --as Don Hewes in EASTER PARADE (1948).
  • "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?" --as Don Hewes in EASTER PARADE (1948).
  • "Read a book sometime. It might improve your brain." --as Bert Kahlmer in THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950).
  • "I like weddings as long as they're not mine." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
  • "There's a fellow who won't take 'Yes' for an answer." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
  • "I nevah had no muddah. We was too poor." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
  • "I always smile when I'm heart-broken." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
  • "I am not Nijinsky.  I am not Marlon Brando.  I am Mrs. Hunter's little boy Tony -- song and dance man." --as Tony Hunter in THE BAND WAGON (1953).
  • "No, Les, you haven't changed a bit.  You look desperately ill as usual." --as Tony Hunter in THE BAND WAGON (1953).
  • "She came at me in sections -- more curves than a scenic railway.  She was bad.  She was dangerous.  I wouldn't trust her any farther than I could throw her.  She was selling hard, but I wasn't buying." --as Tony Hunter in THE BAND WAGON (1953).
  • "Who would ever have believed that human beings would be stupid enough to blow themselves off the face of the earth?" --as Julian Osborne in ON THE BEACH (1959).

In 1951, after both June Allyson and then Judy Garland had to drop out, Fred made ROYAL WEDDING Review with MGM's rising soprano Jane Powell. Loosely based on Astaire's early career with his sister Adele, it's the story of a brother-sister song-and-dance act which breaks up when both decide to get married. The plot of this film isn't anything to rave about (nor are Powell's three solos), but memorable numbers include "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life" and "Every Night at Seven."

Click here"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life" (clip) sung with Jane Powell (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

ROYAL WEDDING (1951) Review also features two wonderful Astaire dance solos: "Sunday Jumps" features Fred partnered with a coat rack, while in "You're All The World to Me" (above) he dances on the walls and ceiling of his hotel room. (The furnishings were anchored and the room was built inside a rotating "barrel" which turned simultaneously with the camera, permitting the impressive special effects.)


After their success together in THREE LITTLE WORDS, Fred combined with 'fifties dance sensation Vera-Ellen for a second time in MGM's THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952).  Set in the Gay 'Nineties, the film features Fred as a playboy chasing Vera-Ellen the missionary and also co-stars Marjorie Main.  The song list includes such Harry Warren - Johnny Mercer tunes as "Oops," "Baby Doll," and "(I Wanna Be a) Dancin' Man."  Overall however, thanks to a weaker-than-usual plot and some special effects-laden dance numbers, THE BELLE OF NEW YORK was not a critical or box office success.  Nevertheless, as eggs go, it has its points.

Click here"(I Wanna Be a) Dancin' Man" (clip) from THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

(For help opening this file, visit the plug-ins page.)

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Last updated: October 19, 2010.
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