Here's the kind of screen magic that repeatedly healed my broken heart, made me smile and gave me the spirit to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the "Pick Yourself Up" number in SWING TIME (1936).
In Ginger Rogers, Astaire did have a perfect partner for those times. They changed the game of the Hollywood musicals with their 1930s original film musicals scored by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. In other film assignments that didn't co-star Astaire, Ginger Rogers proved to be one of the top comedy actresses of her day in such films as Billy Wilder's THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR, in TOM, DICK AND HARRY, in ROXIE HART, BACHELOR MOTHER, STAGE DOOR, LUCKY PARTNERS and VIVACIOUS LADY. Ironically, the two greats of Hollywood musicals each got one Oscar nomination in their long careers and those nominations came for work in dramatic films. In the 1970s, Astaire was up for Best Supporting Actor for wearing a trademark tux and getting dirty in the box office blockbuster all-star disaster thriller, THE TOWERING INFERNO. Ginger Rogers won a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar for a solid, truthful performance as a strong-willed, loyal, white collar career woman named KITTY FOYLE (1940), a movie with a definite feminist vibe.
There's a popular quote that "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire, except backwards and in high heels." Was Ginger a multi-talented movie star? Yes. Did she deserve equal billing, equal pay and equal benefits? Absolutely. Did she do everything Fred did? Not exactly. Ginger never lifted and twirled Fred.
CAREFREE (1938) showcases Ginger's comedy chops and it boasts another original score by Irving Berlin. At a country club dinner dance, popular radio personality Ginger coaxes stuffy psychiatrist Fred to get up and dance "The Yam."