Astaire, Fred (1899-1987)

The Fred Astaire collection consists of scrapbooks, correspondence, memorabilia, printed material, film and video, manuscripts, artwork, photographs, audio material, professional material, and legal material.

The bulk of the collection consists of the scrapbooks created by Fred Astaire. These are organized around several of Astaire's shows and films; all include correspondence, clippings of advertisements, clippings regarding his sister Adele Astaire and her first husband, Lord Charles Cavendish; and reviews and related stories. Some contain additional items, such as photographs, box office statements, playbills, and sheet music. Shows and films represented, in date order, are: Gay Divorce (stage production, 1932-1933); Flying Down to Rio and Dancing Lady (1933); Gay Divorcee (film, 1934); Roberta (1935); Top Hat (1935); Swing Time (1935-1936); Follow the Fleet (1936); You’ll Never Get Rich (1941); The Band Wagon (1953); and Funny Face (1957).

The series also includes a scrapbook given to Astaire "From His Vienna Public," including numerous signatures congratulating Astaire on the birth of his son, Fred Astaire, Jr. (1936); scrapbooks of material regarding Astaire’s television career from 1959 to 2012; scrapbooks of material pertaining to Barrie Chase and Ginger Rogers; and press clippings from 1943 to 1980; among other materials.

Notable correspondence in the scrapbooks includes letters and telegrams from Ann Astaire (Astaire's mother), Irving Berlin, Louis Brock (screenwriter), James Cagney, Lord and Lady Cavendish (Adele Astaire and her husband); Howard Dietz (librettist), Lee Ephraim, Samuel Goldwyn, Leland Hayward, the Duke of Kent, Joshua Logan; Hermes Pan; Linda Porter (Mrs. Cole Porter), Arthur Schwartz (composer), David O. Selznick, Ann Sothern, and Herbert B. Swope.

Other correspondence in the collection includes a fan letter to Fred and Adele Astaire (1921); a letter from Astaire to composer Johnny Green (undated); a letter from Lady Katherine Seymour, Lady-In-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother conveying the Queen's sympathy on the death of Astaire's wife Phyllis (1954); and other various letters.

Memorabilia consists of various costumes and items Astaire wore during film and stage productions including The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), The Barkleys of Broadway (1948), Blue Skies (1946), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Finian's Rainbow (1968), and The Purple Taxi (1977), among others. Other clothing items include the jacket Astaire wore during "A Fine Romance," a green army jacket worn during a USO tour, Ginger Rogers’ shoes from Roberta (1935), a dress belonging to Barrie Chase, and other miscellaneous items. [Note: a pair of Astaire's tap shoes are present in the Adele Astaire collection.] Memorabilia also includes Astaire’s 1981 award from the American Film Institute, promotional merchandise for Astaire’s films, nametags, and various souvenirs, among other materials.

Printed material consists of miscellaneous newspaper clippings from 1920 to 2004; reviews and advertisements regarding Astaire from 1928 to 1979; a chapter from the non-fiction work Glamour in a Golden Age: Movie Stars of the 1930s called “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Modernizing Class”; magazines from 1917 to 2001; various booklets, programs, postcards, pamphlets, fliers, internet printouts, and posters; and a comic book tribute to Astaire, among other materials.

Film and video includes VHS, DVDs, and Hi8 MPs containing interviews and a video cassette of a CBS special, Fred Astaire: An American Classic: Let's Face the Music and Dance.

Manuscripts consist of genealogical notes on the Austrian roots of Astaire's family, compiled by Alessandra Garofalo; screenplays including Gay Divorce (1932-1933) and Blue Skies (1946); a transcript of “Hollywood Film Industry Oral History Project: The Reminiscences of Fred Astaire”; and music scores from Top Hat (1935) and other film and stage productions; among other materials.

Artwork includes paintings, drawings, prints, and collages all belonging to or depicting Astaire or his family.

Photographs consist of prints from various points in Astaire’s career, portraits of Astaire, and family and personal photographs. Notables include Adele Astaire, Anne Astaire, Barrie Chase, George Gershwin, Audrey Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Liza Minnelli, and Ginger Rogers, among others.

Audio material includes records, cassettes, and CDs containing interviews and music (including some from film and stage productions featuring Astaire), among other materials.

Professional material consists of business cards, press kits, and a schedule for “The Fred Astaire Show” belonging to Barrie Chase, among other materials.

Legal material includes documents regarding Phyllis Potter’s divorce in 1933, Astaire’s contract with Paramount Pictures from 1957, and documents regarding Astaire’s will from 1987.

Notable Figures
1. Astaire, Fred
Associated Subjects
1. Theatre and Film Subject Guide
2. Dance Subject Guide
3. Motion picture industry
4. Dance – United States
5. Motion pictures – United States
6. Actors
7. Choreographers
8. Celebrities
9. Dance in motion pictures, television, etc. – United States
10. Dancers
11. Dance – Production and direction