Len Goodman, head judge of “Strictly Come Dancing” ( “Dancing with the Stars” in the U.S.) has always admired Fred Astaire and this
April,2015 TV program,” FOR THE LOVE OF FRED ASTAIRE” gave Len the chance to spend some time following in the great man’s footsteps.
Fred’s stage and film career is talked about, interspersed with very brief dance clips from his films. Made me wonder if anything more than a 20 second video clip was too expensive for the production company.
Len travelled to New York and Hollywood and talked to Fred’s daughter,Ava who said her father was his own worst critic.
Singer/musician Michael Feinstein surprised me by saying that Fred hated his own voice and excised the singing sequences of his dance numbers from his own 16mm prints of his films.
I’ve never heard that before. If it’s true, poor Fred, didn’t he listen to the great songwriters like Porter,Kern,Berlin who loved him singing their songs.
Choreographer,Randy Skinner told Len,
“Fred labelled himself the outlaw style because he brought ballroom,ballet and then tapping all together for the first time.”
Barrie Chase, who was Fred’s dance partner in TV shows of the late 1950s, said Fred was “heaven to dance with, he was a perfectionist,always demanding that you give your very best.”
There was no clip of Fred and Barrie dancing. Barrie always seemed closest to Cyd Charisse’s balletic style of dancing.
Mentioning Fred’s dance partners after Ginger, there were brief ( very brief) video clips of Fred with Rita Hayworth,Audrey Hepburn, then a mention of Eleanor Powell which was accompanied by a clip of ROYAL WEDDING with Jane Powell!
Len’s obvious affection for Fred Astaire shone through, for example when Len put on protective gloves to unwrap Fred’s dancing shoes from TOP HAT. And he concluded the program by saying,
“For me, Fred Astaire was more than a dancer. He was part of the orchestra. His body became an instrument. His lower body was the percussion,always beating out the rhythm,sharp and clear. His upper body was the melody ,moving, free flowing.
Fred Astaire – he was the complete dancer.”