On Fred Astaire

One of Hollywood’s greatest and most influential dancers, Fred Astaire wowed audiences on stage and on-screen. He also introduced several musical standards such as "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Way You Look Tonight". Hear about the great talent from his contemporaries and friends.

1. Katharine Hepburn

"It was thrilling, thrilling, Freddy Astaire's talent. Extraordinary. I don't think he was vain at all, I think he was just brilliant. Not at all vain, and an absolute perfectionist, which is always nice."

2. Leslie Caron

"He was perfectly formed for dancing... He had this incredible speed and tremendous nervous energy, and a remarkable breathing capacity... He didn't think too much of his singing, but a lot of very professional singers think he was marvelous. I think he's absolutely wondferful, and of very pure pitch."

3. Nancy Reagan

"Fred and I were at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at the same time, but unfortunately I never worked with him or knew him well… However, everyone on the lot knew about him – what a perfectionist he was, how he would work for months rehearsing a dance sequence until he got it down just right.”

4. Cyd Charisse

"The first time I danced with him professionally was in a little thing called Ziegfeld Follies.... I just danced around him, and I was thinked to think that I was doing even that. When you worked with him, he was a gentleman, and in private, he was a gentleman. In public, he was a very humble, sweet man, a marvelous person."

5. Audrey Hepburn

"He had style. His clothes were always very casual, and terribly, extremely elegant, because he had such taste. Was he good-looking? I think so, because charm is the best-looking thing in the world, isn't it?"

6. Roddy McDowall

"The public reacts to certain people, like Fred Astaire and Myrna Loy, with great deference. They set a tone in a room, they set an atmosphere... There was a muted joy about him, but you'd never think of rushing up to him and being effusive. There was something royal about him."

7. Ginger Rogers

"[Fred's] tastes and reactions were very closely allied to mine. His desire for perfection was a quality not unknown to me in my outlook toward performance. I've always agreed that the best actor, dancer, singer, is the one who recognizes quality and looks to that as his target in every department of his theatrical efforts... I can't think of any performer of the screen or stage I would rather have performed alongside..."