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Publisher's Summary

There is no denying that the career of Ginger Rogers cannot be entirely divorced from that of Fred Astaire. The unlikely pairing - Rogers was a statuesque blonde while Astaire fell well short of the masculine ideal expected of male movie stars - only made their screen romance more dreamlike, even as the physical contrasts between them melted away during their protracted dance numbers. Not only were Astaire and Rogers the preeminent box office attraction of the time period, but they remain the most recognizable faces of the musical genre as a whole. It is telling that, as Edward Gallafent notes, the duo are identified simply as Fred and Ginger, with no need to even provide their last names. Moreover, not only are films such as Top Hat (1935) and Shall We Dance (1937) cornerstones of the musical, but one of the great achievements of the Fred and Ginger team is that they never fell out of public favor. Indeed, the completeness of the Fred and Ginger pairing was punctuated by the fact that there was no bitter breakup between them, making it so that audiences are left only with the seamless screen romances between them.

Considering the immense success of their films together, it is entirely understandable that Astaire and Rogers are joined at the hip in the eyes of the public. However, an appreciation for the Fred and Ginger musicals is only enhanced by knowledge of the personal backgrounds of the two stars. After all, the fact remains that Astaire and Rogers came from vastly different cultural backgrounds, and at the time that they met, their careers had unfolded in dissimilar ways. Astaire was a national celebrity for his skills as a stage performer (mainly with his sister Adele), while Rogers was raised in a more archetypal Midwestern setting and her professional success was reached entirely through cinema. While Astaire made a name for himself through his dancing, Rogers was more recognized for her singing talents. Clearly, it is still possible to discern fundamental differences between their professional talents, contrasts that would become more distinguishable once they ceased making films together.

American Legends: The Life of Ginger Rogers profiles the life and career of one of America's most famous entertainers.

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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