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July 16: Happy Birthday Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck


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.”

~Bob Thaves

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.

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