This week, I'm going to celebrate with you the artistry of two performers who were great song-and-dance stars who could also pull off dramatic roles with great credibility.
The first was born in May of 1899 in Omaha, Neb., Frederick Austerlitz — we know him as Fred Astaire. He was born into a wealthy family and started studying dancing from the age of four. Fred and his sister Adele became a very popular Vaudeville act and they went on to Broadway and then to Hollywood. Reportedly, Astaire received an unflattering evaluation in his first screen test. Nevertheless, he was cast as a dancer in an MGM feature film.
Most of Astaire's roles were for RKO, where he danced with Ginger Rogers. But it was at MGM that Astaire was paired up with our second star, born Frances Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minn., but better known as Judy Garland.
Garland was 23 years Astaire's junior, but like Astaire, she was part of a family act with her sisters, the Gumm Sisters. Unlike Astaire, however, Garland wasn't from a wealthy family. Her father managed the cinema in Grand Rapids and her mother accompanied the silent films on piano.
When Judy and Fred met up at MGM, it was in Easter Parade. One of the songs from that film,"We're a Couple of Swells." is considered a classic.
We'll hear that song on this week's Flicks in Five.