5 Facts You May Not Have Known About the Great Fred Astaire

  1. As children, Fred and sister Adele were exploited financially by their mother Johanna to move out of Omaha, Nebraska. As a result, Fred refused to take dance lessons.
  2. Fred often wore a top hat during his vaudeville performances with his sister to make him seem taller, for Adele quickly gained three inches on him. Adele was also considered the more talented sibling of their double act.
  3. After Funny Face was completed, Fred and Adele traveled to Hollywood for a screen test at Paramount Pictures. Unfortunately Paramount did not find the Astaires suitable for film, and the screen test has since been lost.
  4. There is a long standing rumor that Fred’s screen test for RKO Radio Pictures was also not well received. It is said that the report on the test said “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”, which Fred later clarified as saying “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances”. Of course the record and test are now both lost.
  5. When offered the idea of becoming a standing partner to Ginger Rogers, Fred was reluctant, for breaking apart from his sister left some emotional scars on him. He told his agent “I’ve just managed to live down one partnership and I don’t want to be bothered with any more”.