Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

Can’t act; slightly bald; can dance a little.

Note from casting director on his first screen test

Fred Astaire did not exactly inspire confidence in the producer who first signed him to a Hollywood production company.

I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.

David O. Selznick

The doubts didn’t last long.

He starred in two musicals during his very first year in Hollywood, the second of which elicited this review from Variety magazine:

He’s assuredly a bet after this one, for he’s distinctly likable on the screen, the mike is kind to his voice and as a dancer, he remains in a class by himself.

He went on to make dozens of films, win two Academy Awards and multiple Golden Globes, and revolutionize the way dance was presented in film—both from a technical perspective and as a storytelling device.

Today you’ll find him memorialized in songs by Madonna, Donna Summer, and Too Short, and as a member of the Film, Television, and Grammy Halls of Fame.