Eldergay Thread Warning: Did Ginger Rogers hate Fred Astaire?
They were both on Broadway before Hollywood, but Fred and his sister were superstars long before Ginger entered the picture. Ginger had a 3 year head start in Hollywood before Fred got there, but Fred's first roll was playing himself!
I imagine with the first couple of pictures it was smooth. Then Ginger found out that Fred was getting a cut from the box office and she wasn't had to have chapped her hide.
But let us say up front, Ginger won and Oscar for Kitty Foyle. Fred's Oscars were honorary.
Roll? Oh my!
[quote] but Fred's first roll
Ginger's hurt feelings were soothed by fucking their director, George Stevens, on [italic]Swing Time[/italic].
Didn't Astaire say that his favorite dance partner was Rita Hayworth?
Ginger was an ornery bitch and drank too much.
Eleanor Parker was the best dance partner Astaire ever had -- she could match him step for stop. However, Eleanor was too macho for him. She made him look like the woman.
I have always heard that they were professional toward one another -- cordial but not especially close. Ginger never thought she got enough credit for what she did; she loved that quote that "He gave her class, but she gave him sex[iness]."
I know she drank a bit, but I never heard that she was a lush or in any way unprofessional when filming.
They were both bigots.
I think you mean Eleanor Powell.
If one cane trust "answer.com:"
Actually Fred Astaire always balked at naming anyone as his favorite dance partner. However near the end of his life he stated that Rita Hayworth was his favorite.
"Actually Fred Astaire always balked at naming anyone as his favorite dance partner. However near the end of his life he stated that Rita Hayworth was his favorite."
Wouldn't it have been more gallant of him to say his sister?
Although I guess maybe by the time you get old, you don't care and figure you might as well answer with the truth.
R8 could you please elaborate?
It's telling that in a thread asking about Rogers people devolve to Astaire.
He made more money, had artistic control, had larger parts in their movies (except in "Swing Time"), and enjoyed longer, more varied success. Their partnership benefited both of them tremendously, but he walked away with the reputation of being an artist while she remained "his" partner, despite the "Kitty Foyle" Oscar and other charming, natural performances.
I didn't find her especially good as time went on. She took no risks. She wasn't very smart. In her dotage - on screen - she was rather repulsive to me. But in her prime she smarted at what it meant to be a woman at the top of her game and to find herself incapable
As the comment from a Frank and Ernest cartoon (quoted by Ann Richards) said - she did everything Astaire did, except backwards and in heels.
But I never heard that she hated Astaire. She wanted his respect, and he was rather a pisspot about giving it.
God, though, that mother of hers.
She was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood when they broke up their screen partnership in 1938. He was voted Box Office Poison along with Hepburn, Dietrich and Mae West.
Have you ever seen her in The Major and the Minor? One of the funniest female performances in screen history.
Yeah, Fred and Ginger were never exactly chummy, but I don't think they hated each other.
Ginger's mother was a Mama Rose.
Wasn't Ginger an ultra-conservative who supported McCarthyism?
The only partner Fred ever had who took attention away from him was Judy Garland. When they danced together, you watched HER, not him.
Rita was the most elegant, beautiful partner Fred ever had. The title of one of their films "You Were Never Lovelier" is a perfect and true one.
Eleanor Powell was the most technically proficient. The best tap number (in my opinion) ever committed to film is "Begin the Beguine" from Broadway Melody of 1940." Timeless in its perfection, with a high gloss black and white MGM set. She and Fred were jaw droppingly good in it but, as others have noted, she was too masculine for him. There was no balance. At best there was a mutual respect for talent.
Fred and Ginger were celluloid magic. There was an alchemy between them that, whether or not they were close personal friends, just jumps off the screen. It's one of those "undefineable" somethings that happens once in awhile. They both were class personified with regard to how they always referred to each other or mentioned each other in interviews. Very few ever, I think, really knew how they felt. It was clear that by the end of the 30's not only were THEY tired of working together, so was America. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle was a pale shadow of their earlier success.
[quote] Eleanor Powell was the most technically proficient. The best tap number (in my opinion) ever committed to film is "Begin the Beguine" from Broadway Melody of 1940."
So true. I have watched this so many times and I am mesmerized by her. I barely notice Fred though he's sure not bad.
[quote]Yeah, Fred and Ginger were never exactly chummy, but I don't think they hated each other.
I remembering hearing somewhere (TCM?, AMC?) that during the "cheek to cheek" dance Rogers wore a ostrich feather dress on purpose to annoy Astaire. The feathers keep blinding him and getting in has mouth. He demanded a costume change but "Mama Rose" was having none of it. a mighty row ensued but the dress stayed in.
Top Hat is a classic by the way. Love it.
I saw some interview with Ginger later in life where she said, "People refer to 'the Fred Astaire movies'... well, you know, I was in them too..." and she said it with a bitchy tone that implied she had a real chip on her shoulder about it.
The comment surprised me since I don't think anyone actually does refer to the movies the two of them made as "Fred Astaire movies" - always "Astaire-Rogers" or "Fred and Ginger" movies. It's his movies with OTHER partners like Hayward, Charisse, etc. that people might refer to as "Fred Astaire movies". It was like she was looking for a reason to be bitter, whether it was true or not.
"The only partner Fred ever had who took attention away from him was Judy Garland. When they danced together, you watched HER, not him."
Some of us watched them both
"during the "cheek to cheek" dance Rogers wore a ostrich feather dress on purpose to annoy Astaire. The feathers keep blinding him and getting in has mouth."
That dress was magic on film, whoever they insisted that it be kept regard less of inconvinience was right. The damn thing wafts, and makes them look almost like they're dancing in slow-motion when they're not - it made the number absolutely dreamlike.
I ought to post that on the "best gown or dress in film" thread, if nobody else has. Has anyone else got it in their threadwatcher?
The search function is still broken
I did post about Bernard Herrmann the costume designer who designed Ginger's gowns in that Edith Head/Jean Louis thread....though I neglected to mention the ostrich feather gown specifically. I'll bump that thread for you now r23.
IIRC Fred writes about that dress in his autobiography Steps in Time and says that while the feathers were annoying, they were well worth the magic the gown created for the number. He was no fool.
He also writes about the heavily beaded gown Ginger wore in Follow the Fleet in the rooftop dance (is the number Change Partners?) the sleeves of which would fly up and slap him in the face. Again, he still appreciated the beauty of the dress.
For me Fred was at his best with Cyd Charisse, and later Barrie Chase. Audrey Hepburn was simply far too young for him in the otherwise perfect Funny Face.
But he and Ginger are an equal team in their movies together, I have never though found her interesting or attractive on her own and she seems to have been a very right wing bigot too, with her dreadful mother.
That would be Bernard Newman, not Bernard Herrmann!
While I can believe that Ginger might have been a Republican, I'd like to see some documentation that she was a right-wing McCarthyite. Her close friend (and cousin-in-law) was the great liberal Democrat Bennett Cerf.
As I recall, Ginger paid for her stubbornness about the feather dress. He rehearsed her until her feet bled. He was a terror to work with, a perfectionist. Relentless, according to her.
She ultimately respected him, and grudgingly acknowledged that he was a master, but there was always the residual resentment that she never felt that she got her props. She felt she was his equal, not one of his many partners.
I can see why she'd feel that way. After all. Other women are mentioned as dancing with Astaire, but Fred and Ginger were an institution. I think she felt he didn't respect her, and was too hard on her.
But he was so huge at the time,there's no way they'd have worked together as successfully as they did if he didn't appreciate her talent.
I wonder. Did Fred ever acknowledge her? Was his "Rita Hayworth was my favorite" a deliberate slap at Ginger, or a way to show kindness to Rita.
R17 is correct. Ginger testified before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HUAC) and she named names. She was also very public in her support of Sen. McCarthy.
Her mother guided her career as a Mama Rose, and both Ginger and Mom were Arch -Conservatives.
No worse than Reagan who was an FBI informant while President of SAG.
Fred's nickname for Ginger was Miss Wasp.
I do not think she hated him - but she was a bit perturbed that she was not given much credit for her work with him and without him.
She came through town in a play headed for Broadway - that never made it - and several of us were in the cast as pick ups. Ginger had a lot of facial hair. She was slow on the take with lines, and I don't think ever said everything she was supposed to say. During intermission, she was always running lines for the second act.
We could only speak to her in character onstage, and if she spoke to us offstage, we were to refer to her as Miss Rogers...not that she ever spoke to anyone.
On opening night, when she entered....and the audience applauded for her....she pranced around like a little pony and did a few dance steps. Unfortunately, she wasn't doing a musical.
Sadly, both Fred AND Ginger testified at the McCarthy hearings.
And I'm with the posters who said Judy AND Rita were the stars who took attention away from Astaire....as was Betty Hutton, but for all the wrong reasons.
I would have loved to have seen Fred with Betty Grable. Or Jessie Matthews (whom Fred wanted for A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS and who MGM sought for one of the BROADWAY MELODYs)
Oh....it WAS a musical....how could I forget? Ginger does mention it in her autobiography.
It would have been wonderful for Astaire to film with Jessie Matthews -- wasn't she rejected by Hollywood because of some scandal in England?
If you watch Astaire and Rogers' reunion in "Barkleys of Broadway", there's just no doubt about their chemistry: it's just magic (I'm thinking of the rehearsal scene where she's wearing pants, can't remember the song.)
[quote]She took no risks.
I disagree. Playing decidedly unglamorous and vulgar Roxie Hart was a hell of a risk.
That's too funny, R33. I can imagine us searching at the same time across the interwebs.
Cyd was too much woman for Astaire. She had to wear flats and was too voluptuous for Fred's manner of dance as partner. Fred did batter with waif type very feminine women. Rogers was the best partner for Fred and they had the most entertaining dance partnership in the history of film, so far.
I always liked the joke:
What's old, wrinkled, and smells like Ginger?
Fred Astaire's face.
Who are these peeps? Y'all sound mad old.
21 years old
Fred's favorite partner was Cyd Charisse, because he preferred partners who had been classically trained. For the record, Ginger and Rita were first cousins, a good bit of trivia. Ginger was definitely the most conservative big female star in Hollywood in her time. Both she and her mother testified before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, which Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with. He was too busy being godfather to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
[quote]I wonder. Did Fred ever acknowledge her?
When he discussed the grueling rehearsals they went through, he said that everyone cried and said they couldn't do it, except Ginger.
Fred stated that his favorite co-star was Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn. He was sooooo gay-like, very feminine.
Ginger Rogers was NOT Rita's blood relative. Rita's mother's brother, Vinton Hayworth, (Rita's uncle) was married to Ginger's mother's sister, Jean Owens (Ginger's aunt).
[quote]Ginger had a lot of facial hair
Judy Garland once sent her a gift to be opened before an entire film crew. It turned out to be a shaving mug.
[quote]Judy Garland once sent her a gift to be opened before an entire film crew. It turned out to be a shaving mug.
r45 - and on the set of Barkleys, the movie in which Judy had been replaced by fuzz-nuts.
Many thanks for the clarification, R44. Another trivia item bites the dust.
r40, if you don't know who the fuck Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are then you need to go fucking EDUCATE yourself, dumbass. You sound "mad" IGNORANT.
R48, is it very fashionable today to brag ignorance about events that happened before you were born. It's like Before Me and After Me. kinda like BC and AD.
[quote]As the comment from a Frank and Ernest cartoon (quoted by Ann Richards) said - she did everything Astaire did, except backwards and in heels
Love Ann Richards, but no, Ginger didn't. In many of their early numbers he either literally danced around her or performed more difficult steps (check out the "Cheek to Cheek" number from Top Hat). Also, in every one of their films he performed a solo dance when she's not even on screen.
Ginger's mother testified before HCUA in 1948, the year of the Hollywood Ten, but neither Rogers nor Astaire ever did so. There was some flap over a wartime film Ginger made (Tender Comrade) in which various Rosie the Riveter types save money by living together. Ginger's line "Share and share alike--that's the American way" was later labelled Commie by the right, but to my knowledge she never testified. She left that job to dear old Mom.
BTW, I remember in 1968 when Gene Kelly came out for Humphrey, Astaire declared for Nixon.
When all is said and done, Ginger remains Fred's best partner. Maybe not dancing partner, but screen partner. Cyd Charisse looked better dancing with Gene Kelly (though reading between the lines of her joint autobiography with Tony Martin, it's clear she preferred Astaire). Rita Hayworth was a terrific dancer, but that's too much estrogen for Fred to handle, though I do love their "I'm Old Fashioned" number.
[R45] Judy had to be removed from the set, all the time shouting 4 letter words at Ginger-snap! Ginger ran off in tears when she opened the shaving mug. You gotta admit, that was funny. Judy had quite enough at that point!
Why would Garland have been on a set she'd been fired from?
She was still under MGM contract and had free run of the place. The studio didn't terminate her contract until 1950 or 1952, IIRC.
R30 as has been pointed out, the "McCarthy hearings" were separate from the House Committee on Unamerican Activities. Joeseph McCarthy was a U.S. Senator and his committee and his reign of terror lasted for a remnarkable 18 months or so.
The House committee was around for years. They were much more destructive, and had a profound and lasting affect on careers. They destroyed lives and livelihoods. McCarthy's Senate committee was also very destructive and destroyed lives.
they didn't want Ginger to do what Fred did -- her part was meant to make her look weak and at his 'disposal.'
Ginger, Judy, Piaf and....?
She was rather wonderful in Stage Door. It seems like she lost her spark as she aged, unlike say, Katherine Hepburn or Roz Russell.
Very interesting. Remember it was the studio heads who brought about the inquisition in Eden, not John Wayne or even Richard Nixon. The studios were so overrun with reds that it was almost impossible to function, particularly after they struck Warner Brothers after WWII. It is my understanding that the assassin of Trotsky was trained in the red cells of Holywood, because they were the most reliable soldiers of Stalin.
Wasn't Fred a demanding perfectionist ?
r57 I always thought Ginger was quite sparkly and spunky still in the early 50s in Howard Hawks' Monkey Business co-starring Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe.
[quote]Eleanor Parker was the best dance partner Astaire ever had
You mean Eleanor Powell....lol.
[quote]She took no risks.
I think that unglamoraous and vulgar Roxie Hart was a huge risk.
"The Major and The Minor" is one of my favorite Ginger films.
She was also good in "Storm Warning" with Doris Day and humpy, hunky and hairy Steve Cochran (Rumored to be hung right up there with Milton Berle and Forrest Tucker.)
One of those "That's Entertainment" films slowed down that chicken feathered dance to show the feathers flying off of the dress as they whirled hither and yon. Fred was also smacked in the mouth by a feather or two. Good times.
In an old Laverne and Shirley episode. Squiggy was talking about one of their neighbors and he referred to him as "Fred, upstairs." I laughed for 10 minutes. I was easily amused when I was a youngergay.
She was very sassy and spunky in most of her non-Astaire films in the 30s and 40s.....really an entirely different persona than the soignee and cold mannequin she projected in the Astaire films.
I thought she showed a lot of warmth in the Fred & Ginger movies. In which one(s) was she soignee and a cold mannequin?
Photo at R55, was Edith Piaf's opening night (Sept. 1950) at The Versailles, a popular NY club in the late 40s and 50s.
THE MIDNIGHT EARL - TRIUMPH: Edith Piaf, the French chanteuse, proved beyond doubt that she's the biggest chi-chi cafe attraction today when Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, Sonja Henie, Faye Emerson (with Skitch Henderson), Yvonne de Carlo, Robert Montgomery, Dan Dailey and Connie Haines all attended her Versailles opening. Never been such a glamour turnout in my time.
I'm not elder enough to know about this. I asked my friend Google and found Earl Wilson's column.
I was surprised to read several years ago that while Astaire re-recorded all of his own taps for the final soundtrack, choreographer Hermes Pan usually re-recorded Ginger's taps. You're seeing Fred and Ginger, but you're hearing Fred and Hermes Pan. Regardless, I love the Astaire movies with Rogers far more than any of the movies without her.
Ginger and Hepburn absolutely hated each other when they were both at RKO in the 30's. "Stage Door" was a real battle for them. Kate referred to Ginger as "Ginger-snap", and thought she was very common.
Lucille, Ann, Eve and Adolph
In fairness to Ginger-snap, Katie Hepburn thought any girl who liked to kiss boys was "common."
I like Rogers up until 1942. After that she's unwatchable. She has a nasty edge and her kiddie impersonations got old very fast.
The movie THE HARD WAY was based loosely on Ginger's marriage to Lew Ayres and her mother's destruction of said union. Rogers even recognized it when she read the script.
I can't think of his name but one of the people who Rogers named was the screenwriter of her film FIFTH AVENUE GIRL who she claimed made her spout communist propaganda.
Right, R70. She took on that combination of hard-brass edge and dumbshit awshucks that seemed to suggest anger, laziness and a mind on other things.
Her early career showed her with a nuanced depth she never regained. And of course the older she got the worse she got. Like her intelligence just leaked out of her.
What are some of these films she was so bad in in the late 1940s/50s?
I only know her later work from Monkey Business and The Barkeleys of Broadway (both in the 50s) and love her in both.
I've always had the feeling it was Hermes Pan she hated.
Did she ever tap much in those Astaire/Rogers films? What numbers? I thought most of the taps were Fred solos.
Supposedly Fred and Ginger had hooked up a few times in New York in the early 30s before he was married and came to Hollywood. So Mrs Astaire was always giving Ginge the side eye (and this is also why there are no kissing scenes in Rodgers and Astaire movies)
Ginger Rogers makes me gag whenever I see even a picture of her. I just get this terrible feeling when it comes to her. Actually, it's the same with James Stewart and John Wayne...
He was so unattractive, even as a kid watching Rogers-Astaire films, I wondered why would a good looking woman go for a fug like him.
According to Robert Osborne, she liked Fred Astaire very well. She just did not want to be percieved as "the student" or even moreso, allow a svengali situation, and went on her own.
 Reagan and his then-wife, Jane Wyman were FBI informants during World War II. At that time Reagan was a very vocal Democrat.
[quote]What are some of these films she was so bad in in the late 1940s/50s?
Try, "Forever Female" which is a really grade Z rip off of "All About Eve". Even though it's from only 1952, the talent and thrill is GONE!
Because she was on their board of directors, Ginger appeared in a production of Our Town at my friend's college in the early 70s.
She played The Stage Manager but because she was too lazy/busy to learn her lines, they gave one of the students many of her lines and called him The Assistant Stage Manager.
It's funny how some Golden Age actresses who were so hugely popular in their prime are so ill-remembered now. I'm talking to you, Ginger!
Also, Greer Garson, Jeanette MacDonald, Betty Hutton, Norma Shearer....who else?
r32: Matthews was involved in a big divorce scandal in 1930 when she seduced Sonnie Hale away from his wife Evelyn Lane. The trial featured "steamy" letters written by Matthews to Hale: "the court was told about the heavenly nights enjoyed by her husband and his devastatingly attractive mistress, and listening to the sexually explicit love letters which Jessie Matthews had written to her married lover, which his wife had discovered.
'My Darling,' she wrote in one that was read aloud, 'I want you and need you badly, all of you, and for a very long time. I am lying here, waiting for you to possess me. The dear little boobs, which you love so much, are waiting for you also.'"
'Dear little boobs'?
Presumably, RKO was nervous about importing the saucy Jessie to post-code America.
Fred and his sister were friendly with Matthews.
So many opinions from folks who know nothing of what they speak.
You couldn't pay me enough to be a "celebrity."
Judgement, judgement, judgement; and what's not know as fact, is simply fabricated.
God save me from simple-minded, gossipy little nobodies of the forgotten brigade.
Dr. JH Dreisdale
Read about Ginger in No Pickle No Performance.
Ask anyone who did Dolly with her about the receiving line.
Ask anyone who did Nanette with her about the conductor changing jackets for her numbers.
Ask anyone in the orchestra pit of the London Mame about the Christmas Jellybeans.
Then once you've done that watch Harlow or The First Traveling Saleslady or Quick Let's Get Married.
Wonder what she was like in Coco or Molly Brown or Annie Get Your Gun or Calamity Jane or Tovarich or Forty Carats or any of the other stage pieces she did.
Rita Hayworth danced with such joyous abandon. You can tell she is not really trained, just a natural. Not everyone can get away with that, but Rita was a very good "natural", but she has no technique at all. I love her for it!
I know someone who did Tovarich was Rogers. He said she was the worst person he ever worked with, and he worked with almost everyone including Bacall.
Harold J. Kennedy in No Pickle...says that of all the ladies he worked with (and he worked with many, as the book details) Ginger was the coldest, and one of the toughest, and cheap too. He did Bell Book & Candle with her. He acted in the show and directed her in it, and she insisted on her then-husband, who had no acting experience at all, as her co-star.
And he wrote it in the 1970s when she was still alive and well and working!