Ginger Rogers began dancing as a child and won a Charleston contest at 14, which put her on the vaudeville circuit. Her success took her to Broadway in 1929, where she received flattering notices despite Top Speed’s short run. At the same time she was making her (full-length) film debut in Young Man of Manhattan. In 1930 she starred in the Gershwins’ Girl Crazy where she made a hit introducing “Embraceable You” and “But Not for Me.”
When the show closed she went to Hollywood and, after nearly 20 films, was paired with Fred Astaire in Flying Down to Rio. The pair was such a hit, even though they did not star in the movie, that they made eight more mostly stunning films together as headliners. Rogers also starred in several noteworthy comedies: Star of Midnight (1935) with William Powell, The Major and the Minor (1942) with Ray Milland, and Monkey Business (1952) with Cary Grant. Her dramatic roles were equally fine: Stage Door (1937), with an all-star cast; Kitty Foyle (1940), for which she won a Best Actress Oscar; and Weekend at the Waldorf (1945), a remake of Grand Hotel.
Rogers took on Broadway again, revitalizing Hello! Dolly in 1965 and taking Mame to London for a 14-month run in 1969. She was a frequent guest on television, an accomplished painter and sculptress, and an award winning tennis player and skeet shooter. Her inimitable “little girl” voice is remembered fondly (by those old enough to recall) in her early 1940’s recording of Alice in Wonderland. In 1992 she received the Kennedy Center award for lifetime achievements.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com
Role: Non-Classical Artist