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In this book, the first comprehensive study ...
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 1917 debut 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 their paths 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 the 1800s, 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.
"Kathleen Riley's book on Fred and Adele--the first full-scale study--is a welcome rehabilitation...The Astaires is a salute to an America at ease with itself and doing something wonderful in the song-and-dance line that seemed, for a time, like the hottest thing in the culture." -- The Wall Street Journal
"In her fascinating new book The Astaires, the Australian theater historian Kathleen Riley describes the exploits of this brother-sister team in glorious detail." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Riley writes with zest and authoritative expertise, displaying a grace and elegance equal to her subjects." -- Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating look at a movie icon and a revealing snapshot of theater history." -- Booklist
"The Astaires: Fred and Adele is a page-turner of a biography, briskly written and immaculately researched. Author Kathleen Riley has, among other things, been given access to audio recordings of Adele Astaire that allow her to tell her story with an authority uncommon in modern biographies. This is an excellent work, well worth reading." --The New York Journal of Books
"With this book, Kathleen Riley has given Adele her proper place in the life and legacy of her brother. Recreating a time when 'celebrity' meant talent, charisma and dedication with her evocative prose, this book is a 'must' for Astaire and musical theatre history fans."-- Larry Billman, author Fred Astaire: A Bio-Bibliography and Film Choreographers and Dance Directors
"We are so accustomed to thinking of 'Astaire' teamed up with 'Rogers' that we overlook Astaire's stage career with sister Adele. That story is told with elegance and authority in Kathleen Riley's enthralling, thoroughly researched The Astaires, a book that sheds further light on an important period in Fred Astaire's pre-screen career." -- Peter Evans, Emeritus Professor of Film Studies, Queen Mary, University of London
"Of the many books on Fred Astaire, this is the most unique. Focusing on Fred's amazing partnership with his sister, Adele, Kathleen Riley has produced a work of remarkable depth and nuanced detail."-- Ken Barnes, Writer and Producer
"Although I was extremely close to both my father and my aunt, in this informative book Kathleen Riley has captured the essence of their lovely spirits far better than I could."-- Ava Astaire McKenzie
List of illustrations
Foreword by John Mueller
Introduction: Moaning Minnie and Goodtime Charlie
Chapter 1: Opening the bill
Chapter 2: Over the top
Chapter 3: Dancing comedians
Chapter 4: Nightingales in Berkeley Square
Chapter 5: Fascinating rhythms
Chapter 6: The golden calf
Chapter 7: Frater, ave atque vale
Chapter 8: By myself
Chapter 9: After the dance
1. (a) The shows
1. (b) Charity performances
2. Other notable events in theatre, 1917-1933
Posted May 30, 2012
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