Ginger Rogers

Actor, Dancer, Singer
As the saying went about Ginger Rogers, she could do everything that her famous dance partner, Fred Astaire, could do, but she did it backwards and in high heels. That declaration neatly summed up the career of ... Read more »
Born: 07/15/1911 in Independence, Missouri, USA

Filmography

other (74)

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Song Performer (Actor)

Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The 65th Annual Academy Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Happy Birthday, Hollywood! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Texas 150: A Celebration Special 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey 1985 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

The Night of 100 Stars II 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The All-Star Salute to Mother's Day 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Harlow 1965 (Movie)

Mama Jean (Actor)

The Confession 1963 (Movie)

Mme Rinaldi (Actor)

The Bob Hope Show (02/15/61) 1960 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

The June Allyson Show 1959 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

Oh, Men! Oh, Women! 1957 (Movie)

Mildred Turner (Actor)

Teenage Rebel 1956 (Movie)

Nancy Fallon (Actor)

The First Traveling Saleslady 1956 (Movie)

Rose Gillray (Actor)

Tight Spot 1955 (Movie)

Sherry Conley (Actor)

Black Widow 1954 (Movie)

Lottie (Actor)

The Beautiful Stranger 1954 (Movie)

Johnny Victor (Actor)

Forever Female 1953 (Movie)

Beatrice Page (Actor)

Monkey Business 1952 (Movie)

Edwina Fulton (Actor)

We're Not Married 1952 (Movie)

(Actor)

Storm Warning 1951 (Movie)

(Actor)

Once Upon a Honeymoon 1941 (Movie)

Katie (Actor)

The Major and the Minor 1941 (Movie)

Susan Applegate (Actor)

Bachelor Mother 1938 (Movie)

Polly Parrish (Actor)

Fifth Avenue Girl 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Carefree 1937 (Movie)

Amanda Cooper (Actor)

Vivacious Lady 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

Shall We Dance 1936 (Movie)

Linda Keene (Actor)

Stage Door 1936 (Movie)

Jean Maitland (Actor)

Swing Time 1936 (Movie)

Penny Carrol (Actor)

Roberta 1934 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Gay Divorcee 1934 (Movie)

Mimi Glossop (Actor)

Top Hat 1934 (Movie)

Dale Tremont (Actor)

42nd Street 1932 (Movie)

Ann Lowell (Actor)

Gold Diggers of 1933 1932 (Movie)

Fay Fortune (Actor)

A Shriek in the Night (Movie)

Patricia Morgan (Actor)

Broadway Bad (Movie)

Flip Daly (Actor)

Carnival Boat (Movie)

Honey (Actor)

Chance at Heaven (Movie)

Marje Harris (Actor)

Dreamboat (Movie)

Gloria Marlowe (Actor)

Finishing School (Movie)

Pony (Actor)

Flying Down to Rio (Movie)

Honey Hale (Actor)

Follow the Fleet (Movie)

Sherry Martin (Actor)

Having Wonderful Time (Movie)

Teddy Shaw (Actor)

Hollywood: The Golden Years (TV Show)

Actor

In Person (Movie)

Carol Corliss (Actor)

Irving Berlin's America (TV Show)

Actor

Kitty Foyle (Movie)

Kitty Foyle (Actor)

Legends of the Screen (TV Show)

Actor

Lucky Partners (Movie)

Jean Newton (Actor)

Magnificent Doll (Movie)

Dolly Payne Madison (Actor)

Professional Sweetheart (Movie)

Glory Eden (Actor)

Rafter Romance (Movie)

Mary Carroll (Actor)

Romance in Manhattan (Movie)

Sylvia Dennis (Actor)

Roxie Hart (Movie)

Roxie Hart (Actor)

Sitting Pretty (Movie)

Dorothy (Actor)

Star of Midnight (Movie)

Donna Mantin (Actor)

Tales of Manhattan (Movie)

Diane (Actor)

Tender Comrade (Movie)

Jo (Actor)

The Barkleys of Broadway (Movie)

Dinah Barkley (Actor)

The Black Widow (TV Show)

Actor

The Groom Wore Spurs (Movie)

Abigail Furnival (Actor)

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (Movie)

Irene Castle (Actor)

The Tenderfoot (Movie)

Ruth (Actor)

The Thirteenth Guest (Movie)

Marie Morgan (Actor)

The Thirteenth Guest (Movie)

Marie Morgan (Actor)

Tom, Dick and Harry (Movie)

Janie (Actor)

Weekend at the Waldorf (Movie)

Irene Malvern (Actor)

You Said a Mouthful (Movie)

Alice Brandon (Actor)

Biography

As the saying went about Ginger Rogers, she could do everything that her famous dance partner, Fred Astaire, could do, but she did it backwards and in high heels. That declaration neatly summed up the career of the Oscar-winning actress, which was marked by her seemingly limitless talents, which included starring in 10 sparkling screen musicals with Astaire, as well as subtle comedies like Stage Door" (1937) and "The Major and the Minor" (1942), as well as heartfelt dramas like "Kitty Foyle" (1940). Rogers had achieved stardom on Broadway before she was 20, and began making feature films shortly thereafter, but it was her collaborations with Astaire that elevated her from movie star to screen icon. Their dance routines were the epitome of class and grace, as well as possessing a chaste sexiness that transcended the censorial limitations of the period. Astaire himself would credit her as one of his best screen partners, but their films together were just the start of her long and storied career. A decade's worth of solo features followed her musical heyday, culminating with her Oscar triumph as a headstrong girl determined to find happiness in "Kitty Foyle." Though her movie career declined in the early 1950s, Rogers remained a star on Broadway and nightclubs for another two decades, as well as a welcome figure on television, where she regaled audiences with stories of her past work. Rogers' star never truly dimmed, both in her lifetime and after it, and her screen presence, whether in the arms of Astaire or on her own, remained one of Hollywood's greatest treasures.

She was born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911 in Independence, MO, the only child of electrical engineer William Eddins McMath and his wife Lela Emogene Owens, a screenwriter and reporter. From an early age, she was referred to as "Ginja," which came from a young cousin who was unable to pronounce "Virginia." Rogers' parents split shortly after she was born, which resulted in an acrimonious custody battle. During this time, Lela Owens was working in Hollywood, so Rogers spent part of her childhood at her grandparents' home in Kansas City. Later, her mother married John Logan Rogers and moved with her daughter to Fort Worth, TX to work as a theater critic. Although never formally adopted by Rogers, Ginger took his surname as her own.

The bubbly child was interested in dance from an early age, performing frequently at local charity shows and school productions, but her passion truly blossomed when her mother brought her along to various stage productions. There, Rogers reportedly danced and sang along with the performers. At 14, she won the Texas State Charleston Competition, which earned her a four-week tour of Texas cities on the Interstate Theatre Circuit. With two redheaded Charleston dancers as her accompaniment, the act, billed as "Ginger and the Redheads," drew such crowds at each stop that the tour was extended to a six-month jaunt through the Western states. Rogers briefly developed a vaudeville act with her first husband, Jack Culpepper, who performed a singing and comedy act under the name of Jack Pepper. Their partnership, billed as "Ginger and Pepper," had an even shorter lifespan than their marriage, which lasted from 1929 until they parted amicably in 1931.

Rogers soon established herself as a solo act with lengthy runs in Chicago and St. Louis. Rogers also sang with Chicago bandleader Paul Ash's orchestra, and traveled with them to New York City to perform at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway in 1929. There, she landed her first stage role as the ingénue in the musical "Top Speed," which earned her critical raves as well as the attention of Paramount Pictures, which signed her to a seven-year contract. In 1930, the 19-year-old Rogers made her feature film debut as a saucy flapper in "Young Man of Manhattan," a breezy show business comedy starring Claudette Colbert and Charles Ruggles. As Puff Randolph, Rogers uttered the immortal line "Cigarette me, big boy," which soon became a national catch phrase. That same year, Rogers earned her first starring role on Broadway in "Girl Crazy." Top billed with another up-and-coming actress-singer, Ethel Merman, the show made Rogers a star, and minted two of her numbers - "Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me" - as instant classics.

At the end of her Broadway run, she dove into motion pictures, making four pictures in 1930 alone. None were particularly memorable, with Rogers usually playing dizzy blondes, and she soon freed herself of her Paramount contract before lighting out for Hollywood with her mother. Once there, she worked for a variety of studios in unremarkable pictures until 1933's "42nd Street" for Warner Bros. Cast as chorus girl Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell, she established her screen persona as a brassy, worldly-wise girl who dove into songs and dance numbers with boundless enthusiasm. In 1933, she starred in "Gold Diggers of 1933," an opulent musical with choreography by Busby Berkeley, who showcased her in a jaw-dropping rendition of "We're In the Money," which featured the barely clad showgirl dancing before colossal coins while Rogers delivered part of the number in pig Latin.

Rogers was also adept at light comedy, as evidenced by her fast-talking turn as a reporter opposite her second husband, actor Lew Ayres, in "A Shriek in the Night" (1933). But musicals remained her most prominent showcase during this period, and in 1934, she signed with RKO to make "Flying Down to Rio," a romantic comedy with Gene Raymond as a bandleader who falls for a flirtatious Brazilian girl (Dolores Del Rio) while performing in Miami. Billed fourth and fifth in the credits were Rogers as Honey Hale, the band's singer, and Fred Astaire as Fred Ayres, Raymond's assistant. Their first dance together was "Carioca," a ballroom number in which they perform with their foreheads touching. The chemistry between the pair was immediately palpable to viewers, many of whom felt that they stole the picture away from the leads. Astaire and Rogers were soon minted as a screen dance team, and earned their first starring roles in "The Gay Divorcee" (1934), which featured a 20-minute routine to "The Continental" at its conclusion.

Astaire was a notorious perfectionist who often drove stage and screen partners to distraction with his endless rehearsals. But Rogers proved to be not only his most enduring co-star, but also his most durable. She had never performed with a dance partner prior to "Flying Down to Rio," and though an accomplished dancer, lacked certain skills like tap, that would be essential elements of their subsequent collaborations. But she did possess two attributes that helped her overcome these obstacles: she was doggedly determined to succeed, a gift from her ambitious mother that helped her to master difficult steps and routines. And she was a talented actress who was able to convey romance, grace and poise through physical presence and facial expression. The end result was a combination of movement and performance that elevated Rogers and Astaire's 33 paired routines to the vanguard of style in Hollywood dance and provide the ultimate escapism for audiences suffering through the Great Depression.

Keeping RKO studios afloat throughout the 1930s, Astaire and Rogers made 10 films together, beginning with 1933's "Flying Down to Rio" and concluding 16 years later with "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), in which Rogers stepped in for an ailing Judy Garland. Critics and fans found their respective favorites among the pictures, though the most financially successful was unquestionably "Top Hat" (1935), a lively screwball comedy with Astaire as an American tap dancer who attempts to woo a reluctant Rogers. The film featured one of their most memorable numbers, "Cheek to Cheek," in which Astaire wins over the headstrong Rogers through a complex, dreamlike routine that suggested verbal sparring before she succumbed to his charm with her signature deep backbend. The couple would enjoy similar moments of brilliance in subsequent films, like the syncopated "Waltz in Swing Time" from "Swing Time" (1936) which simultaneously expanded the boundaries of screen elegance while poking gentle fun at it, and a lovely foxtrot to "They Can't Take That Away from Me" in "Shall We Dance" (1937), among many other scenes indelibly etched in the minds of musical fans around the world. Despite the acclaim Rogers enjoyed from these films, she was treated as one of the supporting cast by RKO, and in fact, was paid less than many of them. Her mother, Lela Rogers, proved to be her ace in the hole in terms of fostering both financial and artistic respect from the studio. Rogers had been a tough but caring stage mother since her daughter's debut in the 1920s, and personally oversaw the shooting of many of her films to make sure her daughter was regarded as a star.

"Shall We Dance" marked the apex of the Astaire-Rogers collaborations, as well as the final days of the Depression Era musical. Skyrocketing production costs in the face of a national debt made studio chiefs turn to dramas and comedies for their box office take, and the pair would make just two more films, 1938's "Carefree" and "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939). The latter, a biopic of the popular World War I dance team, was considered a failure because of its downbeat ending in which Astaire, as Vernon Castle, dies during military service, but in truth, it was the genre that had collapsed, not the duo's screen popularity. During this period, Rogers had worked tirelessly to maintain her identity as a performer outside of her partnership with Astaire through brassy comedies and emotional dramas. Her naturally brassy persona shone through in the former in pictures like the Broadway showgirls slice-of-life "Stage Door" (1937) and "Roxie Hart" (1942), a highly sanitized biopic of the showgirl whose scandalous murder case was also the subject of the musical "Chicago." But she also excelled at "women's pictures" like "I'll Be Seeing You" (1944), a handkerchief-heavy romance between a shell-shocked soldier (Joseph Cotton) and a convict (Rogers) on furlough.

Rogers' solo career hit its high point with 1940's "Kitty Foyle," a sudsy drama penned by Dalton Trumbo about a working-class girl who falls in love with a wealthy but spineless publisher (Dennis Morgan). She earned the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, and for a time, she was the highest paid and most in-demand actress in Hollywood. Having severed ties with RKO, she moved freely among the studios, cherry-picking quality projects like Billy Wilder's comedy "The Major and the Minor" (1942), with Rogers masquerading as a 12-year-old girl in order to avoid paying a full train fare, and "Lady in the Dark" (1944), an adaptation of the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin musical about a woman publisher (Rogers) undergoing psychoanalysis. Rogers was even the hero of Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak, a girls' adventure novel in the vein of the "Nancy Drew" series penned by her mother. The success of her films and other projects allowed her to purchase a 1,000-acre ranch in Southern Oregon, where she lived with her mother and built a dairy complex that supplied milk to Camp White, a nearby military cantonment, throughout World War II. In 1969, she sold her home in Beverly Hills to live in Oregon permanently until 1990.

Rogers married her third husband, Marine Jack Briggs in 1943, but the marriage ended in 1949, which also marked the decline of her status as a leading lady. Her films had drifted into weak melodrama territory, and with the exception of "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), a charming musical which reunited her with Astaire, and "Monkey Business" (1952), a cute screwball comedy by Howard Hawks that co-starred Cary Grant and a little-known Marilyn Monroe, her output saw few successes. She co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "The First Traveling Saleslady" (1956), one of the last productions by her old employer, RKO Pictures, and flitted between features and television until 1965, when she made her final film appearance as Jean Harlow's mother in the wan biopic "Harlow."

Rogers maintained a reduced profile in the 1950s and early 1960s; she had married actor Jacques Bergerac, a Frenchman 16 years her junior, in 1953, but the union only lasted four years. In 1961, she married bandleader-turned-actor William Marshall, who produced one of her final movies, a lackluster adventure called "The Confession" (1964) with Ray Milland. Marshall's issues with alcohol forced a separation, but the couple did not formally divorce until 1969. Rogers bounced back the following year in the Broadway production of "Hello, Dolly!" The musical, which had starred Carol Channing, had been performing poorly at the box office, but ticket sales soared when she took over as Dolly Levi for an 18-month run. Four years later, she scored a second stage success with "Mame" in London, which ran for 14 months and included a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite the end of her screen career, Rogers' popularity never diminished with moviegoers, who eagerly followed her numerous appearances on talk and variety shows throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She also remained on friendly terms with Astaire, whom she presented a special Academy Award in 1950; when the duo broke out into an improvised dance during an appearance at the 1967 awards, they received a standing ovation from the audience. Rogers kept herself in the public eye as a spokesperson for JC Penney, and even designed a line of lingerie for them. She later launched a successful nightclub tour that took her around the world. Rogers also expressed an interest in women's rights, as noted by a speech at the Congressional Women's Luncheon in 1973, which was later read into the Congressional Record.

In 1986, Rogers fulfilled a lifelong ambition to direct when she oversaw an off-Broadway production of "Babes in Arms" in Tarrytown, New York. She made her final screen appearance in a 1987 episode of "Hotel" (ABC, 1983-88) before publishing her autobiography, Ginger: My Story, in 1991. Rogers then settled into a series of well-deserved accolades from her peers. Chief among these was the Kennedy Center Honors, which paid tribute to her in 1992. The event was somewhat overshadowed by Astaire's widow, Robyn Smith, who refused to allow film clips of her husband with Rogers to be shown during the subsequent CBS broadcast. Rogers' final public appearance came in March of 1995, when she received the Women's International Center Living Legend award. A month later, on April 25, 1995, Rogers died of congestive heart failure at the age of 83 while at her winter home in Rancho Mirage, CA. She was interred at the Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, CA in a plot next to her mother, and only a short distance away from the grave of Fred Astaire.

Relationships

Fred Astaire

Companion
met in 1930 when he did uncredited dance direction on "Girl Crazy" dated briefly

Lew Ayres

Husband
Acted together in "Don't Bet on Love" (1933) Separated in late 1930s

Greg Bautzer

Companion
prominent Hollywood attorney close friend to many top film stars dated and was involved with Rogers for a time c. late 1940s/early 50s

Jacques Bergerac

Husband
Married 1953; he was 25, she was 42 at time of marriage

Jack Briggs

Husband
He was a 22-year-old Marine whom she met while touring with the USO during WWII Married 1943; purchased a ranch together in Oregon

Cary Grant

Companion
co-starred with Rogers in "Once Upon a Honeymoon" (1942) and "Monkey Business" (1952) had a romantic relationship in the 1940s, briefly reprised in the 50s

Rita Hayworth

Cousin
Popular film star of the 1940s and 50s; one of WWII's most famous pin-ups; began career in dancing act with her father; films include "Blood and Sand" (1941), "Gilda" (1946), "Miss Sadie Thompson" (1953) and "Pal Joey" (1957); starred in a segment of the anthology film "Tales of Manhattan" (1942), but a different one than the one which highlighted Rogers; not all sources confirm that Rogers and Hayworth were cousins

Howard Hughes

Companion
involved with Rogers during late 1930s

Gerard Marshall

Husband
Appeared together in stage tour of "Bell, Book and Candle" (1958) Started film production company together in Jamaica 1963, which resulted in "The Confession/Quick, Let's Get Married" (1964)

William McMath

Father
separated from Lela McMath when Rogers was a small child

Jack Pepper

Husband
Married 1929; performed duo act "Ginger and Pepper"

Lela Rogers

Mother
acted as Ginger's manager married second husband John Rogers while working as a newspaper reporter in Kansas City (divorced 1929) worked for a time at RKO teaching and promoting new talent wrote a series of fiction books centered around daughter's character for Whitman publishers in the 1940s "friendly witness" during the HUAC trials of the 1940s and 50s made brief appearance as mother of Rogers's character in "The Major and the Minor" (1942) died in 1977

John Rogers

Step-Father
adopted Ginger Rogers after her father's death divorced from Lela McMath in 1929

George Stevens

Companion
involved with Rogers in an on again/off again affair when she was separated from Lew Ayres in the late 1930s directed Rogers in "Swing Time" (1936) and "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

Milestones

1995

Last public appearances included those at a photo session for a Vanity Fair magazine issue dedicated to Hollywood and at a Screen Actors Guild tribute (Rogers was one of the original 100 members of the actors union when it was founded in the early

1991

Made television appearance as guest interviewee along with June Allyson, Jane Powell, and Esther Williams on "Burt Reynolds Conversations With..."

1988

Unsuccessfully sued the Italian producers of Fellini's film "Ginger and Fred" for invasion of privacy

1987

Made directorial debut staging a revival of the musical comedy play, "Babes in Arms"

1987

Appeared in the "Hail and Farewell" episode of the ABC series "Hotel"

1983

Career feted on the syndicated documentary TV special, "Legends of the Screen"

1980

Performed a capsule version of her touring show at Radio City Music Hall

1980

Starred in a summer production of "Anything Goes" opposite Sid Caesar

1978

Recorded an album of songs in England for EMI called "Miss Ginger Rogers"

1975

Starred onstage in the spring in Chicago in romantic comedy, "Forty Carats", then toured with show during the summer

1972

Signed a seven-year deal to act as traveling fashion consultant for J.C. Penney Stores

1970

Toured US in the musical, "Coco"; attracted media attention when she refused to utter one four-letter word in the script

1967

Reunited with Fred Astaire on Academy Awards broadcast, when they presented the writing awards; did a 30-second impromptu dance bit together while en route to the podium which received a huge audience response and caused considerable media hubbub

1965

Final dramatic film role, played Jean Harlow's mother in the biopic, "Harlow"

1964

Rogers and husband G. William Marshall set up production deal to make their own films, shooting in Jamaica; encountered production, budgeting and bureaucratic problems on the one film they made, "The Confession", starring Rogers; resulting film turned out

1964

Played the Queen on a TV version of Rodgers's and Hammerstein's musical version of "Cinderella", with Leslie Ann Warren in the title role

1963

Made a pilot for a TV comedy series, "The Ginger Rogers Show", in which she played twin sisters Elisabeth and Margaret Harcourt; option on possible series not picked up

1959

Starred in tour of a bound-for-Broadway musical comedy, "The Pink Jungle", opposite Agnes Moorehead; play performed in several cities, but show had various problems with script, cast and production and the show never made it to Broadway

1959

Made Las Vegas performing debut at the Riviera Hotel

1959

Starred in a live British TV adaptation of the musical, "Carissima"; oddly enough, the role as staged gave her the opportunities to neither sing nor dance

1958

Starred in TV variety special, "The Ginger Rogers Show"

1957

Starred in last feature film for seven years, "Oh Men! Oh Women!"

1954

Starred in first film not made in the United States, the British-produced "Beautiful Stranger" (U.S. Release title, "Twist of Fate")

1954

Made TV debut in "Tonight at 8:30", a version of three short plays by Noel Coward

1951

Returned to Broadway to star in a dual role Louis Verneuil's unsuccessful comedy, "Live and Let Love"; for one part she was billed as "Ginger Rogers" and for the other she was credited under her birth name "Virginia McMath"; show closed after 51 performan

1951

Made last of four appearances on the cover of "Life" magazine, in connection with her return to Broadway after 20 years

1950

Presented Fred Astaire with a special Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony for 1949 films

1949

Reunited with Fred Astaire when called on to replace an ailing Judy Garland in "The Barkleys of Broadway"

1948

Displeased with the scripts RKO sent her, Rogers and studio ended her nonexclusive contract by mutual consent

1946

First film made through nonexclusive RKO deal in three years, "Heartbeat", was also her last for the studio for a decade

1946

Starred in rare historical drama, "Magnificent Doll", in which she played First Lady Dolley Madison

1944

Highest-paid woman in the US, earning over $250,000; was also America's 8th highest paid person overall that year

1943

Starred in first film in color, Paramount's "Lady in the Dark"; film also featured the famous mink and sequins gown which cost over $30,000 at the time and was later donated to and kept on display at the Smithsonian Institute; Rogers' entire wardrobe for

1940

Opted not to renew her exclusive contract with RKO and began free-lancing; signed nonexclusive pact with the studio

1939

Last RKO musical with Fred Astaire, "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle"

1939

Invited to place her hand and footprints and her signature in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater

1938

First of four appearances on the cover of "Life" magazine

1937

Enjoyed notable success without Astaire in "Stage Door"

1936

Radio debut in "The Curtain Rises" with Warren William on "Lux Radio Theater"

1934

First co-starring vehicle with Astaire, "The Gay Divorcee"

1933

Played early showcase part in RKO's "Professional Sweetheart"; one of her earliest films which was built up as a "vehicle" for her talents

1933

Signed with RKO

1933

Famous career moment: performing cheerful Depression-era anthem, "We're in the Money", in pig Latin in "Golddiggers of 1933"

1933

First film with Fred Astaire, "Flying Down to Rio", in which they played supporting roles

1932

Named one of the WAMPAS "Baby Stars" of 1932

1932

First top-billed role in "The Thirteenth Guest"

1932

Composed song, "The Gal Who Used to Be You" which she sang in a short film, "Hollywood on Parade #1"

1931

Moved out to Hollywood; first West Coast-produced feature, "The Tip Off"; made several films for RKO-Pathe

1930

Made feature film debut at Paramount's studios in Astoria, Queens, as a Jazz Age flapper in "Young Man of Manhattan", in which she uttered a line which enjoyed a nationwide popularity, "Cigarette me, big boy!"

1930

Returned to Broadway as female lead (at age 19) of George and Ira Gershwin's successful "Girl Crazy", earning $1,000 per week; introduced the song standards "Embraceable You" and "But Not for Me"; first met Fred Astaire (whom she dated briefly), who helpe

1930

Played female lead in her first feature musical film, "Queen High"

1929

Appeared in a number of short subjects including "A Night in a Dormitory" (1929) and "Office Blues" (1930)

1929

Success on Broadway in supporting role in musical "Top Speed" (singing "Hot and Bothered") led to screen test at Parmount's Astoria, Long Island Studio; signed by Paramount

1928

Worked as band singer with Paul Ash's orchestra in New York (date approximate)

1926

Began working regularly on the vaudeville circuit: billed as "Ginger and Her Redheads", toured Oklahoma and Texas with two other dancers, after winning a statewide Charleston contest in Texas; the two "redheads" who performed with her had finished second

1925

Briefly worked as substitute dancer for Eddie Foy in vaudeville

1917

Offered a part in a Fox film while mother was working as a scriptwriter; mother refused to let her work after the first day

Appeared in touring stage shows, regional and summer stock performances of such musicals as "Annie, Get Your Gun", "Tovarich" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"

Was in unique position of being RKO's only top boxoffice star under long-term contract; first major solo hit after the series co-starring Astaire, "Bachelor Mother", RKO's biggest hit of 1939

Mother Lela Rogers testified as a "friendly witness" before the infamous HUAC "witch hunt" anti-leftist trials which resulted in the Hollywood blacklists of the late 1940s and early 50s

Enjoyed earliest solo starring successes in such films as "Romance in Manhattan" and "In Person"

Moved with family to Forth Worth, Texas while in high school; took part in school dramatics and took dancing lessons

Travelled abroad extensively for the first time

Left Paramount; made a number of films for Warner Brothers

Appeared in successful international touring nightclub and stage retrospective of her career, "The Ginger Rogers Show" (taped for Italian TV; also did a song and dance number to "The Carioca" on American TV program, "The People's Command Performance"); la

Made London stage debut; was the highest-paid performer ever to appear on London stage up until that time (earning 5000 pounds--at the time the rough equivalent of $12,000--per week for a 56-week run), in the musical "Mame"

Subject of a custody battle between parents when they separated; at one point the infant Rogers was kidnapped by her father

Replaced Carol Channing (who opened the musical) in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway; was critically acclaimed in the role and enjoyed great boxoffice success; performed in the show for a year and a half until February 1967, then toured nationally with the sho

Guest starred occasionally on TV on shows such as "The Love Boat" (in an episode reuniting her with former co-star Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.)

Vaudeville act expanded to include other dances such as the Spanish-flavored Valencia; also did comedy patter routines involving baby talk and comic wordplay

Rogers and Astaire appeared together on motion picture exhibitors annual poll of top ten box office stars three years in a row, placing 4th, 3rd and 7th

Bonus Trivia

.

"You bring out a lot of your own thoughts and ideals when acting ... You know, there's nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are lots of strong women who are ... helping ... mothering strong men; they want to remain unseen. It's kind of nice to be able to play a strong woman who is seen." --Ginger Rogers

.

"She gives him sex, and he gives her class." --Katharine Hepburn's explanation of the onscreen chemistry between Rogers and Astaire, offered at a time when the team was at a popular and critical peak and Hepburn's popularity was ebbing

.

"When you have a dancing partner, there's always going to be a time that the girl is gonna cry. With almost every girl I danced with, I'd get, 'Waaahh ... I can't do it.' 'Oh, you can, shut up, get on, do it.' Ginger didn't do that." --Fred Astaire

.

"The hardest-working gal I ever knew." --Fred Astaire

.

"In more than 60 films, she was our picture of the American girl." --from the Kennedy Center Honors Salute of 1992 (it should be noted that Rogers made more than 70 films, not counting film shorts)

.

She also received a honorary doctorate of fine arts from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 1972.

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