With his older sister and dance partner Adele, vaudeville performer Fred Astaire became the toast of Broadway during the Jazz Age while partnering with composers George and Ira Gershwin to redefine American musical theatre. After Adele's retirement in 1931, Astaire tried his luck in Hollywood, pairing with Ginger Rogers at RKO for a total of 10 films, including "Top Hat" (1935), "Follow the Fleet" (1936) and "Shall We Dance?" (1937). A self-punishing perfectionist, Astaire hid his torturous process behind a mask of suave self-composure, playing the sardonic American graced with a distinctly European sensuality. The Astaire-Rogers films proved a tonic for an anxious nation during the Great Depression. In later years, Astaire would take to the dance floor with a number of new partners, among them Eleanor Powell and Rita Hayworth, while also playing second banana to crooner Bing Crosby in the musical comedies "Holiday Inn" (1942) and "Blue Skies" (1946). Coaxed out of retirement for MGM's "Easter Parade" (1948), Astaire went on to headline "Royal Wedding" (1951), in which he danced seemingly weightless on walls and ceilings, and "The Band Wagon" (1953) with Cyd Charisse. Nominated for Academy Awards for his dramatic work in Stanley Kramer's "On the Beach" (1959) and Irwin Allen's "The Towering Inferno" (1974), an aging Astaire rode out the final third of his brilliant career as the elder statesman of American song and dance, who British writer Graham Greene called "the nearest approach we are ever likely to have to a human Mickey Mouse."