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Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Astaires: Fred and Adele

     If you think you know all there is to know about Fred Astaire, one of the best dancers of twentieth-century movie musicals and cinema partner to several leading ladies; then you may or may not have heard of Fred’s early years. This book, written by classical scholar and modern theater historian Kathleen Riley, traces the origins of Fred’s career in which he and older sister Adele, showing talent early on, relocate to New York City to train and then perform in early twentieth-century vaudeville. Strong family ties with their parents and one another help Fred and Adele cope with early career disappointments but their talents shine through and eventually they attain success on the Broadway circuit during their twenties.

     At first Adele is identified as the more talented of the two, with her natural comic and dancing skills garnering her more recognition. But Fred’s perfectionist drive eventually draws attention to his genius. In their thirties, Adele retires to marriage and Fred takes on Hollywood, performing in several musicals and other films throughout the years.

     Several black-and-white pictures are interspersed throughout the text, highlighting the duo’s performances and relationships with theater notables of the day. A chronology of their theater performances is given and notes and bibliography aid those readers interested in further research.

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