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Ginger Rogers’ Century: A Retrospective of Her Life & Work Student Enrichment Seminar

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University invites you to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Ginger Rogers at a cocktail reception and the opening of a retrospective exhibition of her archive GINGER ROGERS' CENTURY. Tribute remarks will be made by five-time Tony Award-winning actress, a six-time Golden Globe winner, a multiple Emmy Award recipient, and a three-time Academy Award Nominee Angela Lansbury and noted film historian, journalist and television personality Nick Clooney. This event is dedicated to our founder Howard Gotlieb on what would have been his 85th birthday.

Monday, October 24, 2011 - 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Richards-Frost Room, Mugar Memorial Library, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, First Floor

Admission: Free & Open to the BU Community

Click here for more information about this event.


London Gallery to Feature Vintage Prints of Hollywood Legends

A London gallery is to hold a Hollywood film star exhibition in July that will feature vintage photographs of many legends like Clark Gable, James Dean and Ginger Rogers.

The National Portrait Gallery's "Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits" will feature around 70 historical pictures taken between 1920 and 1960 that were never before displayed in the U.K.

The exhibition's photos were taken by photographers employed by the studios.

The National Portrait Gallery is in central London located near Trafalgar Square. The exhibition runs from July 7 to October 23.

For more information, click here.


Ginger Rogers at 100: Even with Astaire, always taking the lead

By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer

"I've got enough nerve to do anything!"

- Ginger Rogers in "Swing Time"

"Swing Time," the sixth film that Ginger Rogers made with Fred Astaire, spins the workaday world of a gambler and a dance teacher into gilded heaven, with duets unlike any the two had whipped up before. But nothing tops this 1936 film's final nightclub scene - the one in which Astaire serenades a heartbroken Rogers with that aching vow of celibacy "Never Gonna Dance," then coaxes her into an increasingly explosive waltz that sends them whirling up twin flights of stairs.

Paradise, right? Not yet. On the set's upper level, with its polished floor like black ice, Rogers flies around in tight turns, and this cyclone force carries her right to the edge of the platform - where there's no rail, nothing but her wits to keep her from plummeting. Your heart hops. Part of the wonderment and pain of the moment is that Rogers is completely in character, disconsolate and remote. (Having fallen in love with Astaire's cardsharp, she had hoped to marry him, until the fiancee from his past showed up.) But there's a revitalizing purity in her turns, and with her white gown whipping like wind, she finally spins out the door in celestial glory. All Astaire can do, slumping slack-jawed onto a bench, is watch her go.

That dance went from pas de deux to pas de don't. And Rogers had the last word.

She usually did. In her life, as in her films, Rogers was a distinctly independent woman. She was so modern in her directness, her self-possession, her firm command of her expressive powers - let alone her career - that the arrival of her centennial year, twinned with Ronald Reagan's, comes as a shock. Unbelievably, the actress who died in 1995 would have turned 100 this July.

In a better world, this milestone would be marked with a reissuance of gowns by Irene (run, mink!), with big bands, swinging jazz and dancing in the streets. Short of that, dancers and actors alike can honor Rogers by studying her enduring naturalness, the way she underplayed her parts, keeping her cool even if she was losing her heart. There's ample opportunity for this during the American Film Institute's impressively wide-ranging Ginger Rogers retrospective, on view in Silver Spring through April 7.

All 10 of Rogers's films with Astaire are included, and an equal number of her 63 others: comedies and dramas including "Kitty Foyle," which tracks a living-by-her-wits shop clerk's disastrous love life, for which Rogers won a Best Actress Oscar in 1940. And "The Major and the Minor," with Rogers's clear-eyed schemer masquerading as a child to save money. By that point (1942), Rogers was a huge star, and her benediction enabled Billy Wilder to make his American directorial debut with this sharply observed picture.

As we near Oscar season and its inevitable coronation of actors with looks and charisma but comparatively narrow abilities, the time is right to reconsider Rogers and her remarkable - and undervalued - talents. Even for her time, when actors were typically more accomplished than they are today, Rogers was a golden hat trick. Not only was she a singer-dancer-comedienne, but that multifaceted nature extended to the way she played her parts.

The key to her appeal is her duality, her mix of high and low, glamour queen and saucepot. Her best performances draw on that mixed allure. Take "The Major and the Minor," in which she is sugary and bashful one minute, and plotting how to land her man between drags on a cigarette in another.

"Swing Time's" furious dance-drama in the nightclub encapsulates Rogers's yin and yang, the vulnerability and the firewall will. (She recounts in her maddeningly unrevealing autobiography, "Ginger: My Story," that after weeks of rehearsals, 48 takes went into filming that number, and shooting finished at 4 a.m. Hours before, her feet started bleeding, and choreographer Hermes Pan told her to go home. "I wanted to get the thing done," she writes, and she stuck it out.) Rogers was appealingly earthy, a fleshly dream with a knockout body. Yet when she danced, she could make you believe she'd float away if Astaire weren't holding onto her. She was silk in his arms.

Could any other actress move so well yet be so stable, so versatile? Not Cyd Charisse, the better dancer but less convincing performer. Not Eleanor Powell, the tap queen with more power than purr, and a singing voice that, like Charisse's, had to be dubbed. Jean Arthur did the comedy but not the dancing. The heartbreakingly gifted but troubled Judy Garland was a victim of the very fragility that made her so watchable - in fact, she was tapped to star in "The Barkleys of Broadway," the last of the Fred-and-Ginger films, but, in the parlance of the day, dropped out for health reasons.

Rogers had it all, plus the power of illusion. She was a paradox, at once weightless and grounded. Heaven and earth, united in a pair of kid pumps.

"She made it look easy," says Mike Mashon, head of the Library of Congress's Moving Image Section. "She was never showy. The Astaire films were about as showy as she got. But look at her next to him in those films; she's so much more natural in front of the camera than he is."

Astaire was a virtual movie novice when he made his first screen appearance with Rogers, dancing the Carioca in 1933's "Flying Down to Rio." But Rogers had 19 films under her belt, after an adolescence climbing up through song-and-dance acts, comedy routines and Broadway musicals (including the Gershwins' "Girl Crazy," alongside a newcomer named Ethel Merman.)

Her level-headedness and work ethic were much praised in Hollywood, and no wonder. She'd grown up around work. Rogers was born in Independence, Mo., to a single mother who brought her only child to the office with her from infancy, rescued her twice from kidnapping attempts by Rogers's father and would go on to manage her career with an iron grip.

Rogers picked up dancing on the fly: At age 14, she picked up the Charleston from a vaudeville acquaintance, won a dance competition with it and parlayed that into a road show. She spent years charming live audiences before heading to Hollywood, and it shows in her films - in her way with a zinger, her comic timing and her spontaneous, living reactions to the other actors in her scenes.

In "Stage Door," the 1937 film about a boarding house full of ingenues trying to make it in show biz, Rogers and Katharine Hepburn - fire and ice - are unwilling roommates. "Don't you ev-uh get tired of quarreling?" chides the snarkily superior Hepburn. "Why, can't you take it?" snaps Rogers, not about to be dressed down. Za-zing!

But watch her gaze at Astaire in "Top Hat" as he woos her with Irving Berlin's gently bouncy song "Isn't This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)?," how Rogers's eyes consume him, how her face brightens by degrees. I find it impossible to pick a favorite Fred-and-Ginger number, but this one is high on my list. She's decidedly unglamorous, in baggy jodhpurs and riding boots, and rain, thunder and lightning slash through the music. Yet once they start dancing, the effect is pure gold: the thumpy rhythms of their feet on the wooden floor of a park pavilion, the couple's shared power and mutual athleticism, their whizzing quickstep that feels like the Earth's been knocked off its axis and the effortless, ecstatic, romantic joy of it all.

How very different their dancing is from what passes for ballroom today. Rogers and Astaire take the form to Elysian heights because they take their audience along with them. The characters they play are screwy and sympathetic enough to feel real. And they carry that into their dancing, which is not about technique, glorious as it is, but about storytelling - the direct communication of body and spirit, barely implied but perfectly clear. You can watch their numbers over and over and see more in them every time. Next to them, even the best of the jackknife legs and splayed-out lifts on "Dancing With the Stars" or "So You Think You Can Dance" look like horrifying mutations from Planet Schlock.

Part of Rogers's secret lay in what she learned on the road. Live theater works different muscles in actors, and survival in that world is one reason that performers such as Rogers, Astaire and other greats from Hollywood's Golden Age still seem so alive today, so warmly three-dimensional.

"You develop a feeling for the audience, and a sense of rhythm and timing," says Jeanine Basinger, historian and Wesleyan University film professor. "People who went around the country from town to town learning their craft, having to fill in for another performer, going on no matter what, finding out how to make it work when it was dying - those kinds of experiences don't exist anymore."

Rogers, Basinger says, "knows how to talk you through a song and make the lyric mean something. How to create a conversation through a song, how to create a conversation with a dance, how to have a conversation with a fellow actor. In all cases, it was about rhythm, timing, action and response."

In looking at Rogers in her own right, I find myself wondering what a Fredless life would have been like for her. As much as she is identified with Astaire, she had the multiple gifts and the drive to have succeeded without him.

Indeed, most of Rogers's work over the decades - she made movies into the 1960s - did not involve singing and dancing. And during the height of the Astaire years, from 1933 to 1939, she made 21 films without him. Astaire needed her more than the other way around. His films with other dance partners never attained the popularity or high art that the best ones with Rogers did. To the extent that his legacy as one of the world's greatest dancers rests on his film work, it's arguable he would not have made such brilliant movies and become so big without the uniquely seductive matchup with Rogers.

Rogers's name is forever linked with Astaire's, but she is hardly a second banana. Matching her warmth and steeliness to his nervous perfectionism, she elevated the greatest dancer of the day. She had hotshot composers - Gershwin, Kern, Berlin - writing for her films, much as Tchaikovsky wrote for the Russian ballet. She ran with intellectuals, entrepreneurs and celebrities alike; among her many wooers were New Yorker founder Harold Ross, aviation magnate Howard Hughes and actor Cary Grant. She had five husbands and no children, and when she wasn't in front of a camera, she was probably on the tennis courts - a natural athlete, she was said to have had near-professional skill - or at her Oregon ranch.

The AFI retrospective is a rare and welcome chance to see the Rogers roles that have been all but forgotten - the hard-luck career women, survivors in the big city, plucky individualists who won't give up.

She played against the prevailing stereotypes. "Real characters, that's what I was after," she wrote. Occasionally Rogers turned down some plums, such as the female lead in "It's a Wonderful Life" - which she described as "such a bland character."

Ironically, the down-market heroines Rogers championed were all but doomed to slip out of the public consciousness. "The simple fact is they're the traditional women's films that are down at the bottom of everybody's critical ash heap," Basinger says. "They still are. Nobody wants to see a movie about the working girl Kitty Foyle who doesn't murder anybody. These kinds of movies don't gain respect."

Yet Rogers put her most famous persona - the divine firecracker in feathers and furs - behind her and pursued her own path. She didn't want to be limited, either to musical comedies or goody-goodies; she didn't want them to define her. She wanted the last word.

The nerve.



Ginger Rogers Paper Doll book now available

Ginger Roger's beauty, grace and talent delighted us on the silver screen, and CMG is proud to announce this officially licensed paper doll book by Marilyn Henry which is sure to please with costumes representing Ginger's films such as Top Hat, Swing Time, Carefree, Fifth Ave Girl, Kitty Foyle, Flying Down To Rio, Lady In The Dark, Follow The Fleet, In Person, and Roberta. There are two beautify dolls and more than 40 costumes and accessories to cut out and enjoy. Additionally there is a brief biography of Ginger's life and career provided by fashion expert, David Wolfe.

For more information and to purchase this great book please visit: www.PaperStudioPress.com


97th Birthday Anniversary

Today marks the 97th anniversary of the birth of Hollywood icon, Ginger Rogers. Born in Independence, Missouri on July 16th, 1911, Ginger was destined for stardom. Although no longer with us, today serves as a reflection on the legendary accomplishments of Ginger Rogers!


It’s Oscar Time!

Winning an Academy Award is the most prestigious honor that those in the film industry can achieve throughout their careers. Recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences denotes true talent and success. During March of each year, new men and women are honored for their achievements during the previous calendar year. However, this time is also used to celebrate the accomplishments of past winners, legendary actors and actresses whose performances were so great that they too were awarded with the discipline's top award. CMG Worldwide remembers and commemorates its many clients who have achieved Oscar-worthy success.

Helen Hayes won an Academy Award in 1932 for Best Actress in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" and for Best Supporting Actress in 1970 for "Airport". Her amazing career spanned over 40 years. She was the first primarily stage actress to win an Academy Award.

Nominated 10 times, Bette Davis received Academy Awards for Best Actress in 1935 for ?Dangerous? and in 1938 for "Jezebel". Often called the "First Lady of the American Screen", she is remembered for her perseverance when breaking into the film world which had for so long been dominated by men. Her accomplishments as an actress served as an inspiration for many that followed her.

Ginger Rogers won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1940 for her role in "Kitty Foyle". Rogers had an astounding career, earning top success as the highest paid actress during the 1940s. She is most well known for her many films with legendary dance partner Fred Astaire.

Mickey Rooney remains one of the greatest actors of all time, having earned two special awards from the Academy. In 1938, he received a Special Award for bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and setting a high standard of ability and achievement. In 1982, he received an honorary award, in recognition of his 60 years of versatility and variety of memorable film performances.

Ingrid Bergman won three Academy Awards, Best Actress in 1944 for "Gaslight", Best Actress in 1956 for "Anastasia" and Best Supporting Actress in 1974 for "Murder on the Orient Express". Her honors, given over a period of 30 years, truly represent the magnificence of her film career, which spanned 50 years and produced over 50 films.

Sir Laurence Olivier was also honored three times by the Academy. In 1946, he was given a Special Award for his outstanding achievement as an actor, producer and director in bringing "Henry V" to the screen. He was honored with a Best Actor Award in 1948 for "Hamlet". In 1978, he was given an Honorary Award, recognizing the full body of his work for the unique achievements of his entire career.

In 1961, Sophia Loren won an Academy Award for Best Actress in "Two Women". In 1991, she was given an Honorary Award for her many successes and contributions to film throughout her career. Over the years, Loren has lit up the screen with her inspiring and moving performances.

Walter Matthau won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1966 for his role in "The Fortune Cookie". This early role led to great success for him throughout the remainder of his career, which spanned 50 years. He continued to use his talent for comedy to bring humor to the screen in many of his roles.

In 1970, Lillian Gish was given an Honorary Award for her many amazing contributions to film throughout her career. Known for her legendary beauty and grace, Gish was intensely committed to her career as actress. Her amazing versatility is demonstrated through her vast work in film, TV and radio.

In 1972, Liza Minnelli won an Academy Award for her role in "Cabaret". Incredibly talented with her acting, singing and dancing abilities, Minnelli has dazzled audiences in film and onstage performances throughout her career, becoming a legendary entertainer.

CMG Worldwide recognizes the outstanding achievements of many on its client roster during Oscar time. On Sunday, March 5, more outstanding individuals will be elected into this elite group of men and women to be honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Coming Soon: “Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume 2″

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Warner Home Video will release "Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume Two" on DVD, completing the collection of films that starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Last year's release of the first volume of the collection featured the critically acclaimed films "Top Hat" and "Swing Time", along with "Follow the Fleet", "Shall We Dance" and "The Barkleys of Broadway", the couple's final film together.

"Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume Two" will include the films "Carefree", "Flying Down To Rio", "The Gay Divorcee", "Roberta" and "Story of Vernon and Irene Castle". All five films are new to DVD and have been newly remastered.

Also being offered for the first time is "Astaire and Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition". The special edition DVD set features all 10 of the dance duo's films along with the documentary "Astaire and Rogers: Partners in Rhythm", a glorious salute that includes candid photos, behind-the-scene tidbits and sidelights about famed collaborators Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, among others.

"Astaire and Rogers Ultimate Collector's Edition" includes an exclusive 10-song soundtrack CD from the team's movies, a set of collectible behind-the-scenes photo cards, reproductions of the "Shall We Dance" and "Roberta" press books and a mail-in offer for four Astaire and Rogers movie posters. For consumers who already own "Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume One", a special Ultimate Collector's Edition will be available which will contain empty sleeves to accommodate the five remastered and restored films released last year.

To Pre-order your copy of "Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume Two," simply log on to Amazon.com.


Ginger Rogers classic film Gay Divorcee (1934) continues to inspire current filmmakers

Originally appeared in the UK's Telegraph on June 6, 2006

By Benjamin Secher

The American independent film writer and director Walt Stillman tells Benjamin Secher how Mark Sandrich's The Gay Divorcee (1934) inspired his work.

'I'm not sure how this will tie in to your question," says Whit Stillman, adopting the nervous yet determined gaze of a man who is about to give an extraordinary answer to an ordinary question, "but I think some of Fred Astaire's dance performances prove the existence of God."

Since sitting down, half an hour earlier, the celebrated director of Metropolitan (made in 1991, but released on DVD for the first time next week) has been talking in the kind of disarmingly articulate sentences favored by the preppy characters in his most famous film. But the thought of a suave, faun-faced man hot-stepping across the screen leaves him dumbstruck. "Some of Fred Astaire's dances are simply transcendental," he reiterates, at last. "And The Gay Divorcee has two of them."

Mark Sandrich's 1934 film marks the first production in which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers shared top-billing; the moment that sealed their reputation as the golden couple of musical cinema. The pair went on to work with Sandrich often - most famously in Top Hat - but Stillman believes that they never topped The Gay Divorcee. "It is," he says, "a true original from the golden age of cinema."

The film, adapted from a stage musical, introduces us to an unhappily married American beauty (Rogers) who voyages to London to seek her aunt's advice on how best to arrange a divorce. Astaire is the friend of a lawyer who is hired to help. After falling in love with Rogers, he determines to win her reluctant affections, jumping through various farcical hoops along the way.

But the delightfully footloose plot counts for nothing compared to the unforgettable dance sequences, including the two glorious numbers in which Stillman sees God, and which even the most atheistic viewer will recognise as pure cinematic heaven.

In the first, set in a moonlit ballroom, an argument blossoms into song and dance, Fred and Ginger's barbed banter melting into the gentle lyrics of Cole Porter's Night and Day as they glide across the floor. "The scene starts out completely minimalist, just nothing, and then turns into one of the most romantic dance sequences ever," says Stillman. "Everything comes together in that episode: the best performances, the best song, the best dancing."

The second dance, set on the esplanade of a grand Brighton hotel with a supporting cast of hundreds, is fabulously overblown. High-kicking chorus girls nestle in revolving doors, synchronised couples whirligig around their balconies, and Fred and Ginger ripple down a monumental marble staircase as silkily as cream over strawberries. It is, quite literally, show-stopping. "That dance sequence must be one of the longest ever done. I clocked it this morning at 18 minutes," says Stillman. "I think the small things in it are greater than the big things." He smiles like a child in a sweetshop. "But the big things are wonderful too."

Stillman's fanatical love of musical comedies stretches far beyond Fred Astaire. "If I could, I would go to see Guys and Dolls every single night," he says. "That would be my favorite thing in life". Which rather begs the question: why has he never made a full-blown musical himself? "I'd absolutely love to," he says. "I've thought about it a lot. In a funny way, I consider all my films to be musical comedies in the form of something else."

Metropolitan, which earned Stillman a well-deserved Oscar nomination, feels in many ways like a musical that never was. Despite being set during the debutante season in New York City, in which every night brings another society ball, there is scarcely a glimpse of dancing contained within its elegantly written scenes. Instead, we are treated always to the aftermath of the musical moment, the talky after-parties where the young characters sit around in their gowns and dinner jackets, absurdly anatomising society or making charming, fragile attempts at romance.

"I like to think the film has the soul of a musical comedy: a certain kind of joy or transcendence that we feel in music and dance," says Stillman. "People call that spirit escapism, but I think that is a pejorative way of looking at it. Take The Gay Divorcee. That film was made, between wars, at a time when in Europe and the States things were very tough. Yet even then people made an effort to seek out something happy. They were aspiring to be as beautiful as possible, to be as well dressed as possible." It is an era in which Stillman, unfashionably dapper with his floppy fringe and blue blazer, might have felt at home.

"Everything was aiming higher; there was no aspiring to lower," he continues. "In today's society you can see that, OK, some things like medicine, or telecommunications might be at the highest point they've ever been, but I think that it should be recognised that there has been a decline elsewhere."

"I think, for example, that the change in cinema is best understood in terms of decline and decadence." He slowly, sadly shakes his head. "Something great was achieved with films like The Gay Divorcee that hasn't been touched since."


Ginger Rogers dances her way to DVD

As the so-called "greatest dance duo in Hollywood history", Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dazzled the world with their fancy footwork and enchanted moviegoers with their breathtaking onscreen chemistry.

Rogers, a small-town girl from Independence, Mo., won the hearts of adoring fans around the country as Astaire's romantic interest and dancing partner in a series of 10 song and dance films With their cheek-to-cheek magnetism, the pair thrilled an American public heavily affected by the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Now, nearly 60 years after the couple's final film together, film buffs can relive those magical Rogers and Astaire moments, in unbelievable, digitized clarity, with the five-disc "Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1" DVD.

Released by Warner Bros. Home Video, the DVD includes the 1935 Oscar Nominated film, "Top Hat", "Swing Time" (1936) and "Follow the Fleet", "Shall We Dance" (1937) and the only technicolor film the pair ever made together, "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949).

From Astaire's crooked top hat, perfectly placed atop his tuxedo-clad body, to Rogers' beaded evening gowns, sparkling like stars in the night sky, the inseparable duo's most memorable moments have been re-mastered and captured on DVD for the world to enjoy all over again.

Also included in the five disc set are retrospectives that offer information on the Astaire-Rogers magic and a number of vintage shorts, cartoons and trailers. In addition, three of the five discs include commentary by musical comedy experts and Astaire's daughter.

The "Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1" makes a perfect gift for any fan of classic American cinema and can be purchased by visiting www.amazon.com.


The Launch of the Official Ginger Rogers Web Site

On Monday October 14, 2002, CMG Worldwide launched the Official Ginger Rogers Web Site. This site includes such sections as About Ginger Rogers, Shopping, Community, Business Inquiries and Site Information. Each section contains well-researched information to answer any kind of question you might have about Ginger Rogers.

The About Ginger Rogers section has everything you want to know about Ella, including an in-depth biography on his life. The news category has the latest updates and monthly schedules of Ginger's TV appearances. The About Ginger Rogers section also includes career highlights, photos, quotes and fast facts about Ginger's life.

The Shopping Section contains products and videos that relate to the famous star of 42nd Street

The Community Section is for fans of Ginger Rogers. It includes a page for Tribute sites and a Downloads page for Ginger screen savers and wallpapers.

The Business Inquiries section provides info for companies who wish to use the name or likeness of Ginger Rogers in any commercial fashion.

The Site Information section includes such categories as feedback, site credits, terms of use and privacy policy.

Whether you're a fan of Ginger Rogers or just learning about his career, you'll find plenty of interesting facts on his official Web site.