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The Astaires: Fred & Adele

by

The Astaires: Fred & Adele Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Before "Fred and Ginger," there was "Fred and Adele," a show-business partnership and cultural sensation like no other. In our celebrity-saturated era, it's hard to comprehend what a genuine phenomenon these two siblings from Omaha were. At the height of their success in the mid-1920s, the Astaires seemed to define the Jazz Age. They were Gershwin's music in motion, a fascinating pair who wove spellbinding rhythms in song and dance.

In this book, the first comprehensive study of their theatrical career together, Kathleen Riley traces the Astaires' rise to fame from humble midwestern origins and early days as child performers on small-time vaudeville stages (where Fred, fatefully, first donned top hat and tails) to their 1917 debut on Broadway to star billings on both sides of the Atlantic. They became ambassadors of an art form they helped to revolutionize, adored by audiences, feted by royalty, and courted socially by elites everywhere they went. From the start, Adele was the more natural performer, spontaneous, funny, and self-possessed, while Fred had to hone his trademark timing and elegance through endless hours of rehearsal, a disciplined regimen that Adele loathed. Ultimately, Fred's dancing expertise surpassed his sister's, and their paths diverged: Adele married into British aristocracy, and Fred headed for Hollywood.

The Astaires examines in depth the extraordinary story of this great brother-sister team, with full attention to its historical and theatrical context. It is not merely an account of the first part of Fred's long and illustrious career but one with its own significance. Born at the close of the 1800s, Fred and Adele grew up together with the new century, and when they reached superstardom during the interwar years, they shone as an affirmation of life and hope amid a prevailing crisis of faith and identity.

Review:

"In this comprehensive coverage of Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele Astaire, Riley (Nigel Hawthorne On Stage) offers a splendiferous glimpse of gaiety, scintillating style, syncopated rhythms; and lost glamour, noting, 'The story of the Astaires conjures up a vanished world.' Leaving their hometown of Omaha in 1905, the two began in vaudeville as child performers, receiving vocal and dance training in New York. While touring the country in 1908 — 1909, one manager said, 'The girl seems to have talent, but the boy can do nothing.' By 1917, both were on Broadway in the patriotic Over the Top, and during the next 15 years they were showered with accolades as they performed in London and New York. The celebrated siblings split up after Adele married in 1932. Offering fascinating anecdotes and surprising details, Riley contrasts Fred's perfectionism with Adele's alluring impudence: critic Richard Watts found her 'funny and bewitching.' Riley writes with zest and authoritative expertise, displaying a grace and elegance equal to her subjects. Her scholarly skills are showcased in this effervescent, spirited history, with a concluding 'Chronologies,' an informative 18-page chart, printed sideways, that lists all Astaire shows with their musical numbers, production personnel, and theaters. 50 b&w halftones." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Before 'Fred and Ginger', there was 'Fred and Adele', a show business partnership and a cultural sensation like no other. It is difficult in our celebrity-sated era to comprehend what a genuine phenomenon the Astaires were. At the height of their success in the mid-1920s the siblings were seasoned transatlantic commuters, ambassadors of an art form they had helped to revolutionize, adored by audiences, feted by royalty, and courted socially by the elite in just about every field of endeavour. They seemed to define the Jazz Age, a fascinating pair who wove fascinating rhythms in song and dance. The story of Fred and Adele Astaire is extraordinary and it is told here in depth and within its historical and theatrical context. It is not merely the first part of Fred's long and illustrious career; it holds a significance and a fascination of its own, as well as having implications for Astaire's subsequent career, which have not been fully appreciated.

The story of the Astaires is also the story of an era. Born at the close of the nineteenth century, they, in effect, grew up together with the new century. Manifestly children of their time, they glamorously embodied the interwar style they had partly originated. At the same time, their appeal as performers was based largely on their apparent defiance of the darker aspects of the interwar psyche. They were an affirmation of life and hope in the midst of a prevalent crisis of faith and identity.

About the Author

Born in Australia and educated at Sydney and Oxford Universities, Kathleen Riley is a classical scholar and modern theater historian. She is the author of Nigel Hawthorne on Stage and The Reception and Performance of Euripides' Herakles: Reasoning Madness. At Oxford in 2008 she convened the first international conference on the art and legacy of Fred Astaire.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations

Foreword by John Mueller

Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction: Moaning Minnie and Goodtime Charlie

Chapter 1: Opening the bill

Chapter 2: Over the top

Chapter 3: Dancing comedians

Chapter 4: Nightingales in Berkeley Square

Chapter 5: Fascinating rhythms

Chapter 6: The golden calf

Chapter 7: Frater, ave atque vale

Chapter 8: By myself

Chapter 9: After the dance

Chronologies:

1. (a) The shows

1. (b) Charity performances

2. Other notable events in theatre, 1917-1933

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780199738410
Author:
Riley, Kathleen
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Musicals
Subject:
Music | Popular Music | Music Theatre, Popular Song, & Film Music
Subject:
Biography-Entertainment and Performing Arts
Publication Date:
20120331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
50 photographs
Pages:
266
Dimensions:
6.4 x 9.2 x 1 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Dance » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Dance » General
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Musical Theater
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Jazz
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography » General
Featured Titles » Arts
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics

The Astaires: Fred & Adele New Hardcover
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Product details 266 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199738410 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this comprehensive coverage of Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele Astaire, Riley (Nigel Hawthorne On Stage) offers a splendiferous glimpse of gaiety, scintillating style, syncopated rhythms; and lost glamour, noting, 'The story of the Astaires conjures up a vanished world.' Leaving their hometown of Omaha in 1905, the two began in vaudeville as child performers, receiving vocal and dance training in New York. While touring the country in 1908 — 1909, one manager said, 'The girl seems to have talent, but the boy can do nothing.' By 1917, both were on Broadway in the patriotic Over the Top, and during the next 15 years they were showered with accolades as they performed in London and New York. The celebrated siblings split up after Adele married in 1932. Offering fascinating anecdotes and surprising details, Riley contrasts Fred's perfectionism with Adele's alluring impudence: critic Richard Watts found her 'funny and bewitching.' Riley writes with zest and authoritative expertise, displaying a grace and elegance equal to her subjects. Her scholarly skills are showcased in this effervescent, spirited history, with a concluding 'Chronologies,' an informative 18-page chart, printed sideways, that lists all Astaire shows with their musical numbers, production personnel, and theaters. 50 b&w halftones." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Before 'Fred and Ginger', there was 'Fred and Adele', a show business partnership and a cultural sensation like no other. It is difficult in our celebrity-sated era to comprehend what a genuine phenomenon the Astaires were. At the height of their success in the mid-1920s the siblings were seasoned transatlantic commuters, ambassadors of an art form they had helped to revolutionize, adored by audiences, feted by royalty, and courted socially by the elite in just about every field of endeavour. They seemed to define the Jazz Age, a fascinating pair who wove fascinating rhythms in song and dance. The story of Fred and Adele Astaire is extraordinary and it is told here in depth and within its historical and theatrical context. It is not merely the first part of Fred's long and illustrious career; it holds a significance and a fascination of its own, as well as having implications for Astaire's subsequent career, which have not been fully appreciated.

The story of the Astaires is also the story of an era. Born at the close of the nineteenth century, they, in effect, grew up together with the new century. Manifestly children of their time, they glamorously embodied the interwar style they had partly originated. At the same time, their appeal as performers was based largely on their apparent defiance of the darker aspects of the interwar psyche. They were an affirmation of life and hope in the midst of a prevalent crisis of faith and identity.

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