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Summary

"No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business." (Mikhail Baryshnikov)

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

Virtually all famous actors are regaled by the public, but even still, Fred Astaire occupies a privileged position in American pop culture. The specific films in which Astaire acted may not be especially famous in their own right - most people likely cannot recall the title of Top Hat (1935), his most decorated film - but Astaire's dancing prowess invariably creates a lasting impact on viewers. Instead of tying his fame to a single film, Astaire's genius lay in constructing his star persona around a specific set of iconographic imagery that has become embedded within American culture. Across his films, the recurring iconic images of the top hat, cane, and coat tails, as well as the image of Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers, all constitute a timeless symbol for elegance that continues to captivate viewers who are unfamiliar with the plots of his films. There have been other film musical actors who were proficient dancers, Gene Kelly chief among them, but none was able to perform with the seamless elegance of Astaire, and none has been remembered nearly as well.

Astaire's dancing numbers epitomized grace and gaiety, making it seem as though he was carefree.

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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interesting but narrator was awful

Interesting look at his life and motivation. worth listening to despite the monotonous mechanical narrator

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Profile Image for Blackeagle
  • Blackeagle
  • 10-06-21

Dancing Legend

I have and will always be a huge fan of the multitalented Fred Astaire. The book was Informative but I did not like the fact that it seemed to defame him because of his height or looks by comparison to Gene Kelly or Bing Crosby they were all legends in their own way. The narrator was ok he just needs to stop trying to impersonate these legends.

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Profile Image for J. Augustine
  • J. Augustine
  • 12-07-20

Learn more about Fred Astaire in under 90 min...

I was first introduced to Fred Astaire as an older teen back in the mid-2000s. I loved classic movies by then and had discovered TCM while visiting family. I happened to catch them playing Top Hat so I watched it. I liked it so I had my parents and brother watch it. Now, over a decade later we all still love watching Fred, and especially Fred & Ginger. We each have our favorites, and less favorites, and we can frequently be heard quoting from one movie or another. My personal favorite Fred Astaire movies are: Carefree (for Fred & Ginger), Funny Face (for Fred), and for some odd reason Daddy Long Legs. What's really interesting to do is ask several older people which one they prefer, Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. Almost without exception people will choose one or the other but never both. In my opinion, Fred is the ONLY dancer.

I listened to the audiobook of American Legends: The Life Of Fred Astaire, so I didn't see the pics included in the print and e-books, but I did enjoy the short hour and 20 minutes spent learning a little bit about one of my favorite actors. The audiobook gives a general overview of Fred Astaire's life, a few quotes from and about him, and hits a few of the highlights of his career. I did learn a few new facts about him, which were quite interesting. Did you know he was a jockey for a short time? The audio production was good and the narrator was easy to listen to. The only negative was that the authors did get some specific movie facts wrong.

I enjoyed listening to American Legends: The Life Of Fred Astaire learning a little bit more about him. If you have a spare hour and a half to use and don't want to listen to fiction you should check this audiobook and any of the others in the American Legends series...

(I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)

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  • Ellen Oceanside
  • 27-04-20

Well Done

We think of movies with a guy who wore tails, top hat and cane, had almost invisible dance moments. He had many dance partners, many movies, and they all brought enjoyment. Good concise history of him, and well done.
Given audio for my voluntary review and my honest opinion

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  • Amahra
  • 17-02-20

Absolutely Loved it!

What can one say bad about Fred Astaire? I enjoyed learning new things about him, like his early start in Show Business with his sister and things about his mom and dad. I will always adore Astaire and he remains the epitome of 'Class".