Friday, January 28, 2011

Feathers, I love ya

So, today is my free Friday post where I can talk about anything!

I'm currently working through Fred Astaire's autobiography, Steps In Time. It took me a while to get into it, I'm afraid, because his writing style is very dry. Plus, a good portion of the book is dedicated, understandably, to his work with Adele and I don't have much of a connection to that. I want to learn about it but I don't get the same excitement from it as I do when I read about him getting to know Ginger or Randolph (or Randy) Scott or David Niven. I'm finally at that part, by the way. I'm not quite finished with it yet but I expect to finish some time on Saturday. I really love reading these autobiographies and reading about their day-to-day interactions with other movie stars. It's so surreal.

One of the things that amazes me is how different everybody's perspective on history is. I watch documentaries and hear stories about Fred and Ginger and then I read their autobiographies and none of the stories seem to quite match up. It's pretty apparent that it's a simple matter of perspective and the fact that everyone misremembers their own history so everything is likely to get muddled. But it's still wacky. For example, I've heard that Fred was very hesitant to do films with Ginger because he didn't want to be teamed up again now that he had finally started establishing himself after his sister's retirement. Well, in his autobio (hope you don't mind if I call it that), he doesn't seem all that bothered by his sister's retirement in the first place - he did know it was coming, and he was all happy about getting to work with Ginger. It's not until Top Hat where he mentions either of them having any issue with being tagged as a team. Plus, the whole Feathers story. The way documentaries tell it and the way Ginger describes it, it was a whole debacle with tempers flaring and arguments ensuing and feathers flying everywhere. But, when Fred tells it, it's like "yeah there were feathers everywhere. It was so frustrating. We didn't think it would work. Then we watched the rushes next day and it was fine. We were so relieved. We laughed the whole thing off." The end. (Definitely major liberal paraphrasing there). It's insane!

Two more points I'd like to point out before ending this little post and going to bed.
1. Phyllis. By all accounts, I don't much care for the woman. She seemed very cold and rarely smiles in pictures. This bothers me a great deal. I don't know why but it does.

2. Adele. She fascinates me. We all know Fred today to be iconic, brilliant, immensely talented, one of the best dancers ever. But everyone seemed to say that Adele was the talent in the family. The reviews of his first show without Adele were incredibly biting, implying that he couldn't make it without her. Why is there no footage of this woman dancing? I'm dying to see her perform. It's really quite maddening.

Okay and one more thing. I absolutely love reading all these bits and pieces about the composers. It's so amazing! Fred Astaire refers to George Gershwin as a hoofer (who knew?) and Ginger Rogers admits to going out with him a couple of times (can you blame her?). I really wish I could have lived back then. It's truly depressing.

Okay, well that's all for Free Friday. Have you guys read any good autobios that you recommend?


  1. I'm reading Rosalind Russell's LIFE IS A BANQUET. She is as spirited in her book as she is onscreen. Her husband penned the preface and mentions that RR's life was filled with laughter. It shows.

    I recommend John Gilvey's tasteful and detailed bio of Marge and Gower Champion, BEFORE THE PARADE PASSES BY. Marge Champion (Gilvey interviewed her for the book) praised the publication.

  2. I had no idea Fred wrote an autobiography!! Uhm, feathers, yeah, Ginger dedicated like 3 pages to the incident. Maybe it *was* a big deal and something frustrating for her, because she designed the whole thing; to Fred it was only a dress I guess.
    I'm reading "My wicked wicked ways", Errol's autobiography; it's really amazing, like an adventure movie. Recently I also read "The times we had" by Marion Davies (kind of amazing); Lucy's and Ginger's autobiographies were terrific. Oh, I really really want to read the two books by David Niven, all the reviews are positive.
    Great post Sally :)

  3. Awww- George Gershwin - such a heartbreaker! I haven't read any autobiographies I can think of but these sound like fun!

  4. Nice post, Sally! I have been wanting to check out Fred's biography, but just haven't had the time... I have heard that he 'downplays' the feathers saga... well, you know, the REAL story might just lie someplace inbetween... but, lest there EVER be any doubt... I will hang with Ginger's side of the story (hope that didn't catch anyone off-guard!) :-]

    KIG, Sally!!!


To reduce comment spammers, I've had to start moderating the comments. Thank you for understanding! I can't wait to approve your comment and engage in classic movie discussion!