Now we have the next best thing: an evocative biography of the Astaires, who literally grew up in show business, becoming stage-savvy veterans before they were of age. Theater historian Kathleen Riley has conducted exhaustive research, with access to the Astaire family scrapbook and personal correspondence, and laid out their extraordinary success story with grace and charm. It isn’t often that one encounters a show business book as beautifully written as this.
Riley brings to life the workaday world of vaudeville—both big and small-time—as well as the heady excitement of success on Broadway and London’s West End. As popular as Fred and Adele became in New York, they were truly the toast of the town in London, winning over critics, audiences, and even the royal family. There are wonderfully amusing examples of vintage British magazine ads where the duo endorsed a variety of products, from throat lozenges to fountain pens.
Interestingly, it was Adele who commanded the lion’s share of attention and praise; no one disparaged Fred, but in many people’s minds she was the standout of the two, not because she was the better dancer but because she had a thousand-watt personality. When she decided to marry an Englishman and retire from the stage, there was genuine concern as to how Fred would fare on his own. Imagine that!
This book is a rare treat and a worthy substitute for that time machine I keep dreaming about.
RT @leonardmaltin: 'Inside Llewyn Davis' has an incredible cast--but is difficult to recommend to anyone but a Coen camp follower http://t.…Posted 20 hours ago
@leonardmaltin I heard "The Wolf of Wall Street" recently screened for critics in Los Angeles. Have you seen it? Thoughts?Posted 21 hours ago
I always enjoy talking movies w/@LeonardMaltin. Here's the podcast of my conversation with him @AmericaWeekend today. http://t.co/ZIX7265HD3Posted 22 hours ago
@leonardmaltin I aired our conversation this morning, and it's up now as a podcast (http://t.co/iU7duphO86). Thanks again for doing it!Posted 22 hours ago