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Fred Astaire, 1940
Regarded by many as the greatest dancer in showbiz, Fred Astaire revolutionized the movie musical with his elegant and seemingly effortless dance style. This particular photo was taken in 1940 to promote the upcoming film You’ll Never Get Rich. At first glance, you may miss some of the details in the colorization. If you look closely at the skin, you will see that even the most subtle blemishes have been taking into account.
Fred Astaire was born Frederick Austerlitz on May 10, 1899 in Omaha, NE. The son of Austrian immigrant Frederic “Fritz” Austerlitz and his wife Johanna, Astaire was ushered into dancing classes by his mother at the young age of six with the intent to rid him of his frail physique. Not only was Fred a child prodigy but his older sister Adele was an exceptional dancer as well. After observing the natural talent between the two children, Johanna Astaire wanted both Fred and Adele to receive the best training possible and soon moved both children to New York City in 1905.
Over the next several years the Astaire children toured the country performing their Vaudeville act and gaining popularity. Fred and Adele became quite successful as a duo and soon began performing on Broadway in multiple shows together until Adele retired in 1931. Seeing Adele’s retirement as an opportunity to pursue other ventures, Fred began auditioning for films. Although his first screen tests didn’t go over so well, he eventually landed a role as a featured dancer in the Joan Crawford-Clark Gable vehicle Dancing Lady. This led to more prominent roles starring alongside starlets such as Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth.
As Fred’s film career began to wind down, he began working in television and even did some songwriting. Astaire received his only Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. He also won an Emmy Award for his work on the television special A Family Upside Down in 1978. Astaire also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981.
In 1987, Astaire was hospitalized for pneumonia and passed away on June 22 in Los Angeles, California. Former actor and president Ronald Reagan, upon learning the news, called Astaire “an American legend” and “the ultimate dancer.” Ginger Rogers said Astaire “was the best partner anyone could ever have.” At first glance, you may miss some of the details in the colorization. If you look closely at the skin, you will see that even the most subtle pock-marks have been taking into account.
The full size original black and white photo is below along with my full size colorization.