Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spotlight: Ginger Rogers

The actress/singer/dancer was born on this day in 1911.

The extremely talented Rogers first became a star on Broadway in the George and Ira Gershwin musical Girl Crazy, which means diddly-squat to those of us not living in New York City in 1930. Fortunately, a Hollywood contract--and posterity--soon followed.

However, at first her Hollywood stardom did not quite equal her Broadway stardom. For instance, she gets fifth billing in Gold Diggers of 1933, though I will admit the "and" makes her name stand out a bit. More significantly, she stars in the musical film's opening number.

"We're in the Money"--I have no idea why, but dig the way she switches over to pig Latin right toward the end.

Ogersray isay estbay owknay orfay erhay anymay ilmsfay--excuse me, I meant to say, Rogers is best known for the many films she co-starred with Fred Astaire in the 1930s (plus one final one in the late '40s) Though the pairing was and is justly celebrated, they weren't quite equals. Dancing was Astaire's main thing in the 1930s, and if that's all you're concerned with, you're probably better off seeing the man in a movie with Eleanor Powell or Cyd Charrise. Rogers, of course, could dance, too, but it's telling that she rarely gets a solo number. Does that mean we should regard Top Hat or Hold That Fleet as basically Fred Astaire films? Not if you're concerned about more than the dancing. Astaire's singing was OK, but he could barely act--at least not in the 1930s (he had gotten much much better at it by the time the nuclear war drama On the Beach was made in the late 1950s. He must have found the apocalypse inspiring.) Rogers could sing as well as Astaire, and could act circles around him--usually at just that moment he was dancing circles around her. And it's that dichotomy that made them click as a team.

And someone once said, she had to do everything he did, but backwards and in high heels.

A brunette Rogers went dramatic in 1940s Kitty Foyle...

...and won an Oscar.

As good as Rogers was in that, in my opinion her real forte was comedy. Here she is with a young David Niven in 1939's Bachelor Mother.

Let's jump ahead to the 1970s, when a still-vibrant Rogers tripped the light fantastic with none other than Johnny Carson (poor Ed never got the chance to cut in.)

Ginger Rogers died in 1995, but her films endure. Good thing Hollywood called.



  1. My Mum and I would watch Gingers and Fred's movies.Any movie she was in.movies and I so miss that time.
    She also said the shoes never fit and were dyed so she danced in wet shoes too.

    cheers, parsnip, thehamish and fergus

  2. Did not know that about the shoes, parsnip. Rogers was a trouper.