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Ginger Rogers

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In George Stevens' VIVACIOUS LADY (1937), 6-foot 3-inch Jimmy Stewart (a biology professor) marries 5-foot 4.5-inch Ginger (a night club singer named Francey La Roche) but then must decide how to introduce her to his small-town, conservative parents, played by Charles Coburn and Beulah Bondi. Also featuring Hattie McDaniel and Jack Carson, the whole cast seems to have a good time with this film.

BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) is slightly more serious fare with Ginger playing a sales-girl who works at the toy counter of a department store and finds an abandoned baby, only to be accused of being its unwed mother. David Niven (playing the son of the department store's owner) comes to her rescue however, and with Charles Coburn in the cast and Garson Kanin directing, comedy becomes the order of business -- successfully too. This film was RKO's biggest money-maker of 1939 and their biggest "sleeper" hit of the decade.

By now, Ginger had successfully established herself not only as capable in non-musical settings, but also as one of Hollywood's favorite representatives of "Miss America Ordinary." In FIFTH AVENUE GIRL (1939) she plays an unemployed young woman who is hired by an unhappy millionaire to pose as his mistress in an effort to shock some life back into his stuffy, lackadaisical family. Though the film was not much of a box-office success, Ginger once again received praise for her talents as a comedienne and was especially stunning in costumes by Howard Greer and flattering photography by her favorite cameraman, Robert de Grasse.

In 1940 Ginger's blonde tresses went dark (though she succeeded in keeping them hidden from the press until this film's release) and she began to get a few of the more serious dramatic roles she had coveted so long. 

Above is a still of Ginger comforting Joan Carroll in Gregory La Cava's THE PRIMROSE PATH, in which she played (with almost no makeup) the daughter of a prostitute who falls in love with a man of more respectable heritage. Though it sounds typical, the acting is good all around and makes for a nice romance.

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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