We feature a couple of Golden Age greats today. I was able to find a picture of the two of them together—that’s Stanwyck on the left, with Rogers standing next to her second husband, actor Lew Ayres.
“Sure he [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did…backwards and in high heels.”
Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) began her entertainment career as a Fort Worth, TX, teenager when vaudevillian Eddie Foy recruited her as a stand-in for his act one night. By the time she was nineteen she was starring on Broadway in the Gershwins’ Girl Crazy. She was signed by Paramount the same year, but soon moved to Warner Brothers and then RKO. At Warner’s she had supporting roles in classic musicals like 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, but it was at RKO that she became a star.
Rogers’ second film at RKO was a musical titled Flying Down to Rio. It starred Gene Raymond and Dolores Del Rio, with Rogers as half of the “beta couple” opposite one Fred Astaire. Between 1933 and 1939 Astaire and Rogers were paired for nine musicals with RKO, with Top Hat and Swing Time being the acknowledged classics. During this period Rogers also appeared in a number of non-musical, non-Astaire films which established her acting credentials. One of her best roles was in Stage Door.
When it comes to the Academy Awards, there are winners and losers. It may be an honor to be nominated, but the fact of the matter is they only hand out so many statues every year. Over the course of a career in showbiz, there are a limited number of opportunities to win an Oscar. For varying reasons, some of the most famous actors and actresses in Hollywood history never took home the prize. In the April 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, they compiled a list of the ten most famous actors who never won.