Day 70 of Colourisation Project – July 16
No-one could ever dance as gracefully as Ginger Rogers. Even when executing the most technically difficult steps, she could make it look as easy as skimming the top of soft butter with a butter knife. And when she danced with Fred Astaire…well, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my adolescent face.
Born Virginia Katherine McMath on this day July 16, in 1911, Ms Rogers was an American Oscar winning actress, singer and dancer. Appearing in films, on stage, on radio, and on television throughout much of the 20th century, Rogers held an elevated Hollywood status. In 1942 she was Hollywood’s highest paid star.
Born in Independence, Missouri and with a career spanning over 62 years, Rogers had achieved stardom on Broadway before she was 20, and began making feature films shortly after. Rogers made 73 films. Together with the ever debonaire screen legend and dancing partner, Fred Astaire, she revolutionised the musical films genre in a series of ten Hollywood musicals, which I will list here because I have seen everyone at least two or three times; Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Carefree, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, and The Barkleys of Broadway.
It’s been said many times; she could do everything that Fred Astaire could do, but she could do it backwards and in high heels with class and grace. Don’t believe me? You can check out her prowess on the dance floor here. Fred Astaire aside, she achieved great success in her own right winning an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Kitty Foyle in 1940. She ranks 14th on the American Film Industry’s 100 Years…100 Stars list of actress screen legends.
Rogers married 5 times and had no children. In 1991, she published her autobiography, Ginger: My Story, in which she talks about the importance of her religious affiliation with Christian Science. Believers argue that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone and when she suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and dependent on a wheelchair, she refused to see a doctor or go to a hospital.
She died of a heart attack at home on April 25, 1995, at the age of 83.
“I’d do three or four pictures between those I made with Fred. We weren’t Siamese twins. I always wanted to stretch out and do some things as me, alone, by myself. I did, and among the things was ‘Kitty Foyle.’ ”