Gelatin silver print, 1936
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers first appeared onscreen in Flying Down to Rio (1933). Their performance of “The Carioca” generated such an enthusiastic response that RKO quickly cast them in what became a historic movie seriesThe Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), Carefree (1938), and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). For MGM, they teamed once again for The Barkleys of Broadway (1949). Astaire and Rogers brought glamour and a stylized elegance to Depression-era audiences. He worked on the main choreography, with Rogers coming in to “button-hook” the work at the end. A classic “Frank and Ernest” cartoon by Bob Thaves declared, “Sure he [Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards . . . and in high heels.” This photograph shows the “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” number at the end of Follow the Fleet.