Whether you viewed one of his movies in a high school music class or you are familiar with his work because your parents and grandparents were fans of his films, chances are you have heard of Fred Astaire at some point in your life. From "Funny Face" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo" to "A Family Upside Down," "Swing Time' and "The Amazing Dobermans," a wide array of Fred Astaire famous roles are sure to be appreciated by viewers of all ages for centuries to come.
Who is Fred Astaire?
Born Fred Austerlitz on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska, Fred Astaire is one of the most highly acclaimed actors in American history. His charm and wit combined with his exceptional singing, dancing and choreography skills made him a household name when he and dancing partner Ginger Rogers changed the face of the musical comedy genre forever throughout the 1930s.
Starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, "Funny Face" was written by Leonard Gershe and released in 1957. In "Funny Face'-which is based on the 1927 Broadway musical of the same name-Fred Astaire portrays a fictional character named Dick Avery who is a fashion photographer. Avery's boss, Maggie Prescott, who is played by Kay Thompson, sends him out on an assignment to find a "fresh new face." Astaire's character finds that fresh new face in Hepburn's character, Jo, an employee at a bookstore in Greenwich Village. Avery takes Jo to Paris to transform her into one of the world's hottest fashion models and ends up falling in love with her along the way. The film features such famous songs as "S'wonderful," "He Loves and She Loves" and "How Long Has This Been Going On."
"The Amazing Dobermans"
Fred Astaire switches gears and trades musical comedy for action and adventure in 1976 with his role as Daniel Hughes in "The Amazing Dobermans." In the film, a gambler named Lucky Vincent-played by James Franciscus-has a stroke of bad luck and ends up owing Solly Kramer, a mobster portrayed by Jack Carter, more than $12,000. Astaire's character is a born-again Christian who owns a team of highly-trained Doberman pinschers and rescues Lucky from the evil intentions of Solly and his fellow mobsters. After Lucky convinces Hughes to come up with an act featuring his dogs and to take the act to the carnival, Lucky uncovers Solly's plan to rob the circus of its box office revenue. Lucky, Hughes and the pack of Doberman pinchers attempt to foil the plot through a series of entertaining and action-packed events.
Although Fred Astaire enjoyed a considerable amount of success starring in his own films over the course of his career, few movies are more memorable than those that shared the spotlight with his partner Ginger Rogers. One such film-"Swing Time'-was released in 1936 and stars the famous pair as John "Lucky" Garnett and Penny. Astaire's character is both a dancer and a gambler who plans to marry a woman named Margaret, whose father requires Garnett to earn $25,000 before he wil be permitted to marry his daughter. After traveling to New York, Garnett meets Penny, a dance instructor, and the two team up to perform at elegant clubs throughout the city. While Garnett dances his way to earning the $25,000 he needs to marry Margaret, he develops feelings for Penny and is forced to choose between his fiancee and his new love who taught him how to dance.