The Astaires: Fred and Adele by Kathleen RileyThe Astaires: Fred and Adele by Kathleen Riley

The Astaires: Fred and Adele

byKathleen Riley

Paperback | May 6, 2014

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Before "Fred and Ginger," there was "Fred and Adele," a show-business partnership and cultural sensation like no other. In our celebrity-saturated era, it's hard to comprehend what a genuine phenomenon these two siblings from Omaha were. At the height of their success in the mid-1920s, theAstaires seemed to define the Jazz Age. They were Gershwin's music in motion, a fascinating pair who wove spellbinding rhythms in song and dance. In this book, the first comprehensive study of their theatrical career together, Kathleen Riley traces the Astaires' rise to fame from humble midwestern origins and early days as child performers on small-time vaudeville stages (where Fred, fatefully, first donned top hat and tails) to their 1917debut on Broadway to star billings on both sides of the Atlantic. They became ambassadors of an art form they helped to revolutionize, adored by audiences, feted by royalty, and courted socially by elites everywhere they went. From the start, Adele was the more natural performer, spontaneous, funny, and self-possessed, while Fred had to hone his trademark timing and elegance through endless hours of rehearsal, a disciplined regimen that Adele loathed. Ultimately, Fred's dancing expertise surpassed his sister's, and theirpaths diverged: Adele married into British aristocracy, and Fred headed for Hollywood. The Astaires examines in depth the extraordinary story of this great brother-sister team, with full attention to its historical and theatrical context. It is not merely an account of the first part of Fred's long and illustrious career but one with its own significance. Born at the close of the1800s, Fred and Adele grew up together with the new century, and when they reached superstardom during the interwar years, they shone as an affirmation of life and hope amid a prevailing crisis of faith and identity.

About The Author

Born in Australia and educated at Sydney and Oxford Universities, Kathleen Riley is a classical scholar and modern theater historian. She is the author of Nigel Hawthorne on Stage and The Reception and Performance of Euripides' Herakles: Reasoning Madness. At Oxford in 2008 she convened the first international conference on the art and...
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The Astaires: Fred & Adele
The Astaires: Fred & Adele

by Kathleen Riley


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Details & Specs

Title:The Astaires: Fred and AdeleFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:May 6, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019935894X

ISBN - 13:9780199358946

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of illustrationsJohn Mueller: ForewordAcknowledgementsPrefaceIntroduction: Moaning Minnie and Goodtime Charlie1. Opening the bill2. Over the top3. Dancing comedians4. Nightingales in Berkeley Square5. Fascinating rhythms6. The golden calf7. Frater, ave atque vale8. By myself9. After the danceChronologies:1. (a) The shows1. (b) Charity performances2. Other notable events in theatre, 1917-1933NotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Riley writes with zest and authoritative expertise, displaying a grace and elegance equal to her subjects." --Publishers Weekly