- Ginger Rogers
bgcolour = silver
name = Ginger Rogers
imagesize = 250px
caption = Ginger Rogers
birthname = Virginia Katherine McMath
birthdate = birth date|1911|7|16|mf=y
deathdate = death date and age|1995|4|25|1911|7|16
Rancho Mirage, California
William Marshall (1961-1969)
academyawards = Best Actress
1940 "Kitty Foyle"
Ginger Rogers (
July 16, 1911– April 25, 1995) was an Academy Award-winning American film and stage actress, dancer and singer. In a film career spanning 50 years, she made a total of 73 films, and is now principally celebrated for her role as Fred Astaire's romantic interest and dancing partner in a series of ten Hollywood musical films that revolutionized the genre.
Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in
Independence, Missouri, the daughter of William Eddins McMath, of Scottish ancestry, and his wife Lela Owens, of Welsh ancestry. Her mother separated from Rogers' father soon after her birth, and mother and daughter went to live with her grandparents in nearby Kansas City. Ginger was close to her grandfather, and, in 1939, bought him a home in Sherman Oaks, California(5115 Greenbush Ave) so that he could be close to her while she was filming at the studios.
Rogers' parents divorced and fought for custody, with her father even kidnapping her twice. After they divorced, Rogers stayed with her grandparents, Walter and Saphrona Owens, while her mother wrote scripts for two years in
Hollywood. Several of Rogers' cousins had a hard time pronouncing her first name, shortening it to "Ginya".
When Rogers was nine years old, her mother married John Logan Rogers. Ginger took the name of Rogers, although she was never legally adopted. They lived in
Fort Worth, Texas. Her mother became a theater criticfor a local newspaper, the "Fort Worth Record".
As a teenager, Rogers thought of teaching school, but with her mother's interest in Hollywood and the theater, her young exposure to the theater increased. Waiting for her mother in the wings of the Majestic Theatre, she began to sing and dance along to the performers on stage.
Rogers' entertainment career was born one night when the traveling
vaudevilleact of Eddie Foycame to Fort Worth and needed a quick stand-in. She entered and won a Charleston dance contest and then hit the road with a vaudeville tour. She and her mother toured for four years. During this time, her mother divorced John Rogers, but kept his surname.
At 17, Rogers married Jack Culpepper, another dancer on the circuit. They formed a shortlived vaudeville double act known as "Ginger and Pepper". The marriage was over within months, and she went back to touring with her mother. When the tour got to
New York City, she stayed, getting radio singing jobs and then her Broadway theaterdebut in a musical called "Top Speed", which opened on Christmas Day, 1929.
Rogers' first movie roles were in a trio of short films made in 1929 — "Night in the Dormitory", "A Day of a Man of Affairs", and "Campus Sweethearts".
Within two weeks of opening in "Top Speed", Rogers was chosen to star on Broadway in "
Girl Crazy" by George Gershwinand Ira Gershwin. Fred Astairewas hired to help the dancers with their choreography. Rogers dated him for a while. Her appearance in "Girl Crazy" made her an overnight star at the age of 19. In 1930, she was signed by Paramount Picturesto a seven-year contract.
Rogers would soon get herself out of the Paramount contract -- under which she had made films at Astoria Studios in
Astoria, Queens-- and move with her mother to Hollywood. When she got to California, she signed a three-picture deal with Pathé, which resulted in three forgettable pictures. She landed singing and dancing bit parts for most of 1932 and was named one of fifteen " WAMPAS Baby Stars". She then made her screen breakthrough in the Warner Brothersfilm "42nd Street" (1933). She went on to make a series of films with RKO Radio Picturesand, in the second of those, " Flying Down to Rio" (1933), she worked with Dolores del Rioand again with Fred Astaire.
1933-1939: Astaire and Rogers
Rogers was most famous for her partnership with Fred Astaire. Together, from 1933 to 1939, they made nine musical films at RKO and in so doing, revolutionized the Hollywood musical, introducing dance routines of unprecedented elegance and virtuosity, set to songs specially composed for them by the greatest popular song composers of the day. To this day, "Fred and Ginger" remains an almost automatic reference for any successful dance partnership.
Croce, Hyam and Mueller all consider Rogers to have been Astaire's finest dance partner, principally due to her ability to combine dancing skills, natural beauty and exceptional abilities as a dramatic actress and comedienne, thus truly complementing Astaire: a peerless dancer who sometimes struggled as an actor and was not considered classically handsome. The resulting song and dance partnership enjoyed a unique credibility in the eyes of audiences, as bluntly expressed by
Katharine Hepburn: "She gives him sex, he gives her class." Most of the films in which the two appeared had several very difficult numbers to be rehearsed dozens of times. Of the 33 partnered dances she performed with Astaire, Croce and Mueller have highlighted the infectious spontaneity of her performances in the comic numbers " I'll Be Hard to Handle" from "Roberta" (1935), " I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket" from " Follow the Fleet" (1936) and " Pick Yourself Up" from " Swing Time" (1936). They also point to the use Astaire made of her remarkably flexible back in classic romantic dances such as " Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" from "Roberta" (1935), " Cheek to Cheek" from " Top Hat" (1935) and " Let's Face the Music and Dance" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936). For special praise, they have singled out her performance in the "Waltz in Swing Time" from "Swing Time" (1936), which is generally considered to be the most virtuosic partnered routine ever committed to film by Astaire. She generally avoided solo dance performances: Astaire always included at least one virtuoso solo routine in each film, while Rogers only performed one: "Let Yourself Go" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936).
Although the dance routines were choreographed by Astaire and his collaborator Hermes Pan, both have acknowledged Rogers' input and have also testified to her consummate professionalism, even during periods of intense strain, as she tried to juggle her many other contractual film commitments with the punishing rehearsal schedules of Astaire, who made at most two films in any one year. In 1986, shortly before his death, Astaire remarked: "All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn't do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger. No no, Ginger never cried". John Mueller sums up Rogers' abilities as follows: "Rogers was outstanding among Astaire's partners not because she was superior to others as a dancer but because, as a skilled, intuitive actress, she was cagey enough to realize that acting did not stop when dancing began...the reason so many women have fantasized about dancing with Fred Astaire is that Ginger Rogers conveyed the impression that dancing with him is the most thrilling experience imaginable". According to Astaire, "Ginger had never danced with a partner before. She faked it an awful lot. She couldn't tap and she couldn't do this and that ... but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong."
Rogers also introduced some celebrated numbers from the
Great American Songbook, songs such as Harry Warrenand Al Dubin's " The Gold Diggers' Song (We're in the Money)" from " Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933), "Music Makes Me" from " Flying Down to Rio" (1933), " The Continental" from " The Gay Divorcee" (1934), Irving Berlin's " Let Yourself Go" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936) and the Gershwins' " Embraceable You" from " Girl Crazy" and "They All Laughed (at Christopher Columbus)" from "Shall We Dance" (1937). Furthermore, in song duets with Astaire, she co-introduced Berlin's " I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket" from "Follow the Fleet" (1936), Jerome Kern's " Pick Yourself Up" and "A Fine Romance" from " Swing Time" (1936) and the Gershwins' " Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" from "Shall We Dance" (1937).
In 1939, Rogers requested a break from musicals, saying, "I don't want to make a musical for the next year. Don't get me wrong—I'm not ungrateful for what musicals have accomplished for me. However for the last four years I've been doing the same thing with minor variations." After breaking with Astaire, her first role was opposite
David Nivenin " Bachelor Mother".In 1941, Ginger Rogers won the Academy Award for Best Actressfor her starring role in 1940's "Kitty Foyle". She enjoyed considerable success during the early 1940s, and was RKO's hottest property during this period. However, by the end of the decade, her film career was in decline. Arthur Freedreunited her with Fred Astaire for the last time in " The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949) which, while very successful, failed to revive Rogers' flagging career and commentators of the time were keen to remark, somewhat unkindly that the 1949 film highlighted how much the elfin girl of the 1930s had dissapeared to be replaced by a robust framed, athletic woman.She continued to obtain more minor film roles throughout the 1950s. She played Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway in 1965. In 1956, Ginger Rogers was the debut act at the grand opening of Hotel Rivierain Havana, Cuba, dictator Fulgencio Batista's collaboration project with gangster Meyer Lansky.
In later life, Rogers remained on good terms with Astaire: she presented him with a special
Academy Awardin 1950, and they were co-presenters of individual Academy Awards in 1967. In 1969 she had the lead role in a production of Mamefrom the book by Jerome Lawrenceand Robert Edwin Leewith music and lyrics by Jerry Hermanat the Theatre Royal Drury Lanein the West Endof London, arriving for the role on the Liner QE2from New York, her docking heralded the maximum pomp and ceremony at Southampton. The production ran for 14 months and featured a performance by Royal command for Queen Elizabeth the Second.The Kennedy Center honored Ginger Rogers in December 1992, an event which when shown on television, was somewhat marred when Astaire's widow, Robyn Smith (who permitted clips of Astaire dancing with Rogers to be shown for free at the function, itself), was unable to come to terms with CBSfor broadcast rights to the clips. [http://www.variety.com/article/VR102225?categoryid=13&cs=1]
In 1940, Rogers purchased a 1000-acre (4 km²)
ranchbetween Shady Cove, Oregonand Eagle Point, Oregon, along the Rogue River, just north of Medford. The ranch, named the 4-R's (for Rogers's Rogue River Ranch), is where she would live, along with her mother, when not doing her Hollywood business, for 50 years. The ranch was also a dairy, and supplied milk to Camp White for the war effort during World War II. Rogers loved to fish the Rogue every summer. She sold the ranch in 1990 and moved to Medford.
Rogers, who was an only child, lived for much of her life with her mother, Lela Rogers (1891–1977), who was a newspaper reporter, scriptwriter, and movie producer. Lela was also one of the first women to enlist in the Marine Corps, and was a founder of the
Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.
Rogers' mother "named names" to the
House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC), and both mother and daughter were staunchly anti-Communist. They had an extremely close mother-daughter relationship — Rogers's mother even denied Rogers's father visitation rights after their divorce.
Rogers' first marriage was to her dancing partner
Jack Pepper(real name Edward Jackson Culpepper) on March 29, 1929. They divorced in 1931, having separated soon after the wedding. In 1934, she married her second husband, actor Lew Ayres(1908 – 1996). They separated quickly and were divorced in 1941. In 1943, she married her third husband, Jack Briggs, a Marine. They divorced in 1949.
In 1953, Rogers married her fourth husband,
lawyer Jacques Bergerac. 16 years her junior, he became an actor and then a cosmetics company executive. They divorced in 1957 and he soon remarried actress Dorothy Malone. Her fifth husband was director and producer William Marshall. They married in 1961 and divorced in 1971.
Rogers was good friends with
Lucille Ball(a distant cousin on her mother's side) for many years until Ball's death in 1989, at the age of 77. Ball did not seem to share Rogers' political views, but evidently still valued her friendship, as did Bette Davis, a Democrat who definitely did not share her views and called her a "moralist", but still professed to enjoy her company. Ginger Rogers appeared with Lucille Ball in an episode of "Here's Lucy" on November 22, 1971, where, with Lucie Arnaz, she gave a demonstration of The Charleston, in the famous "high heels".
Rogers was a cousin of actress/writer/socialite
Phyllis Fraser(whose acting career was brief).
It has been said in books and other publications that Rogers was
Rita Hayworth's cousin, but they were not blood relatives. Hayworth's maternal uncle, Vinton Hayworth, was married to Rogers' maternal aunt, Jean Owens.
Rogers would spend the winters in
Rancho Mirage, California, and the summers in Medford, Oregon. She died on April 25, 1995, of congestive heart failure, at the age of 83, in Rancho Mirage, and was cremated. Her ashes are interred in the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemeteryin Chatsworth, California.
Portrayals of Rogers
No film portrayals have been made of Ginger Rogers, most likely because
Fred Astairestipulated in his will that no film representations of him were to ever be made. As Roger's career history is inevitably linked to Astaire it is unlikely an accurate portrayal could be made of her on film. No portrayal was made of her in The Aviator2004, in spite of the fact that many of her fellow actresses who like she, dated Howard Hughes, were portrayed. Rogers image is one of many famous woman's images, of the 1930s and 1940's, to feature on the bedroom wall in the Anne FrankHouse in Amsterdam, a gallery of magazine cuttings, pasted on to the wall and created by Anne and her Sister Margo whilst in hiding from the Nazis, since the House became a Museum, the gallery the Sister's created has been preserved under glass, Roger's image is one of the larger and more prominant which clearly indicates her mass and global appeal amongst the young of the time. A musical about the life of Rogers, entitled "Backwards in High Heels", premiered in Folrida in early 2007. [ [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/107055.html Playbill News: Sold Out Florida Stage Run of Ginger Rogers Musical Gets Added Performances ] ]
Quotations about Rogers
* "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels." [In a 1982
Frank and Ernestcartoon. Often incorrectly attributed to Faith Whittlesey, Ann Richards(who said it in a 1988 speech), or to Ms. Rogers herself, but the official [http://www.gingerrogers.com/about/quotes.html Ginger Rogers website] attributes it to Thaves. The quote is given in its more usual form, but it appeared in the comic as "Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards... and in high heels."]
* "Fred gave Ginger class, and Ginger gave Fred sex."
Katharine Hepburn, actress. Variants include "Astaire gave her class, and Rogers gave him sex" and "He gave her class, and she gave him sex appeal."
Young Man of Manhattan" (1930)
*"The Sap from Syracuse" (1930)
Queen High" (1930)
Follow the Leader" (1930)
Honor Among Lovers" (1931)
*"The Tip-Off" (1931)
*"Suicide Fleet" (1931)
*"Carnival Boat" (1932)
The Tenderfoot" (1932)
The Thirteenth Guest" (1932)
*"Hat Check Girl" (1932)
*"You Said a Mouthful" (1932)
*"42nd Street" (1933)
*"Broadway Bad" (1933)
Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933)
*"Professional Sweetheart" (1933)
*"Don't Bet on Love" (1933)
A Shriek in the Night" (1933)
Rafter Romance" (1933)
*"Chance at Heaven" (1933)
*"Sitting Pretty" (1933)
Flying Down to Rio" (1933) (*)
Twenty Million Sweethearts" (1934)
Finishing School" (1934)
*"Change of Heart" (1934)
The Gay Divorcee" (1934) (*)
Romance in Manhattan" (1935)
*"Roberta" (1935) (*)
*"Star of Midnight" (1935)
Top Hat" (1935) (*)
*"In Person" (1935)
Follow the Fleet" (1936) (*)
Swing Time" (1936) (*)
*"Shall We Dance" (1937) (*)
Stage Door" (1937)
Vivacious Lady" (1938)
Having Wonderful Time" (1938)
*"Carefree" (1938) (*)
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939) (*)
Bachelor Mother" (1939)
5th Ave Girl" (1939)
*"Primrose Path" (1940)
*"Lucky Partners" (1940)
*"Kitty Foyle" (1940)
*"Tom, Dick and Harry" (1941)
*"Roxie Hart" (1942)
Tales of Manhattan" (1942)
The Major and the Minor" (1942)
Once Upon a Honeymoon" (1942)
Tender Comrade" (1943)
Lady in the Dark" (1944)
*"I'll Be Seeing You" (1944)
Week-End at the Waldorf" (1945)
*"Magnificent Doll" (1947)
*"It Had to Be You" (1947)
The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949) (*)
*"Perfect Stranger" (1950)
*"Storm Warning" (1951)
*"The Groom Wore Spurs" (1951)
We're Not Married!" (1952)
*"Monkey Business" (1952)
*"Forever Female" (1953)
Twist of Fate" (1954)
Black Widow" (1954)
Tight Spot" (1955)
The First Traveling Saleslady" (1956)
*"Teenage Rebel" (1956)
*"Oh, Men! Oh, Women!" (1957)
*"The Confession" (aka "Quick, Let's Get Married" and "Seven Different Ways")(1964)
*"George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey" (1984)
(*): performances with Fred Astaire
*"A Day of a Man of Affairs" (1929)
*"A Night in a Dormitory" (1930)
*"Campus Sweethearts" (1930)
*"Office Blues" (1930)
*"Hollywood on Parade" (1932)
*"Screen Snapshots" (1932)
*"Hollywood on Parade No. A-9" (1933)
*"Hollywood Newsreel" (1934)
*"Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 3" (1936)
Show Business at War" (1943)
Battle Stations" (Narrator, 1944)
*"Screen Snapshots: The Great Showman" (1950)
*"Screen Snapshots: Hollywood's Great Entertainers" (1954)
What's My Line?" (1954)
*"Glitter" (1984) (pilot for series)
* [http://www.us.imdb.com/title/tt0395313/ Fred Astaire (1986 archive footage), The 100 Greatest Musicals, Channel 4 television, 2003 ]
*Fred Astaire: "Steps in Time", 1959, multiple reprints.
*Arlene Croce: "The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book", Galahad Books 1974, ISBN 0-88365-099-1
*Hannah Hyam: "Fred and Ginger - The Astaire-Rogers Partnership 1934-1938", Pen Press Publications, Brighton, 2007. ISBN 978-1-905621-96-5
*John Mueller: "Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films of Fred Astaire", Knopf 1985, ISBN 0-394-51654-0
*Ginger Rogers: "Ginger My Story", New York: Harper Collins, 1991
* [http://www.reelclassics.com/Actresses/Ginger/ginger.htm Ginger Rogers biography from Reel Classics]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE1DC143AF933A15753C1A967958260 John Mueller's 1991 "New York Times" review of "Ginger: My Story"]
NAME= Rogers, Ginger
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= McMath, Virginia Katherine
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Actress
DATE OF BIRTH=
July 16, 1911
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
April 25, 1995
PLACE OF DEATH=
Rancho Mirage, California
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