ASTAIRE: The Man, The Dancer by Bob Thomas

ASTAIRE: The Man, The Dancer

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This lackluster biography is subtitled ""With Comments from Fred Astaire""--but don't expect surprises, self-analysis, or even professional detail; Thomas' quotes from some recent Astaire interviews are almost all bland or inconsequential. Instead, the material here is largely derived from Astaire's Steps in Time memoir, from recent gatherings of anecdotal tributes--and, more freshly, from interviews with Barrie Chase and Astaire's wife Robyn. Those familiar with past writings on Astaire will find virtually nothing new in the coverage of his early and middle career: teenage vaudeville and N.Y. stardom with sister Adele (Fred the perfectionist, Adele the charmer); from Broadway to Hollywood, where he very reluctantly became half of another team (""Fred's relations with Ginger have remained ambivalent""); ups and downs through the 1950s, with brief attempts at retirement. But, throughout, there are slightly more revealing details on Astalre's private life: the grief over his first wife's death; his love of the horseracing milieu; his close working relationship with Barrie Chase;and his June/December romance and marriage with ex-jockey Robyn Smith--who quite frankly tells of her agressive courtship (with brief mention of hostility from Fred's family). Anyone seriously interested in Astaire-the-dancer (or singer), then, will have to look elsewhere--to Arlene Croce, Benny Green, and others--for vivia theater-history, for critical appreciation of his achievements. But some readers might be satisfied by this quick once-over, sprinkled with mildly personal touches and illustrated with 100 black-and-white photos.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's