YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS £10 (198pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Fred Astaire, By Joseph Epstein
Friday 20 November 2009
Hollywood legend holds that when a film executive watched Fred Astaire's first screen-test, his assessment was grim: "Balding. Can't sing. Dances a little."
Joseph Epstein sets out to prove Astaire's virtuoso ability to dance on screen superseded whatever physical peculiarities he may have had (he wore a hairpiece and had "huge ears"). Astaire's training in tap began in Vaudeville, dancing with his more talented sister, Adele, and culminated in the famously tension relationship he had with Ginger Rogers. Epstein paints a charming picture of an understated man who liked to insist: "I'm just a hoofer".
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