Fred Astaire

American dancer, actor, and singer (1899–1987)

Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz (10 May 1899 – 22 June 1987), was an American dancer, actor, singer, choreographer and presenter. He was the most famous stage, movie and television dancer of his day.

Fred Astaire
In You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
Frederick Austerlitz

(1899-05-10)May 10, 1899
DiedJune 22, 1987(1987-06-22) (aged 88)
  • Dancer
  • actor
  • singer
  • choreographer
  • presenter
Years active1904–1981
Phyllis Livingston Potter
(m. 1933; died 1954)

Robyn Smith
(m. 1980)
RelativesAdele Astaire (sister)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • percussion
  • piano
  • accordion
  • clarinet
Fred and Adele Astaire in 1921

Astaire started dancing on the stage with his sister Adèle, as a child, in 1905. Their Broadway career lasted from 1917 to 1932. They became world-famous after WWI, and regularly performed on both sides of the Atlantic.

When she married he started a movie partnership with Ginger Rogers. After that, he danced with a succession of talented American dancers on movie and on television. He appeared in 32 movies. His movie partners included Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, Cyd Charisse: all high-class dancers, and on TV with Barrie Chase. Their An evening with Fred Astaire won nine Emmy Awards in 1958.

Many male dancers of the 20th century were influenced by him, and said so. He owed a lot to the choreography of Hermes Pan, but even more to his own perfectionism and relentless practice.

Astaire was also an excellent actor, and a successful, though personally modest, singer. He introduced some of the most celebrated songs from the Great American Songbook. He married Phyllis Potter in 1933; they had two children. After her death, he remarried in 1980 to Robyn Smith, a female jockey 45 years his junior.


  • Astaire, Fred. Steps in Time, 1959, OCLC 422937
  • Billman, Larry. Fred Astaire – a bio-bibliography, Greenwood Press 1997, ISBN 0-313-29010-5
  • Freeland, Michael. Fred Astaire: an illustrated biography, Grosset & Dunlap, 1976. ISBN 0-448-14080-2
  • Thomas, Bob. Astaire, the man, the dancer. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1985. ISBN 0-297-78402-1

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