Astaire, Adele (1896-1981)

The Adele Astaire collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, diaries and journals, notebooks, professional material, legal material, financial material, printed material, photographs, audio, artwork, personal memorabilia, scrapbooks, and miscellany. The material in the collection dates from ca. 1890s to 1981; the bulk of the material dates from the early 1920s to the early 1970s.

Manuscripts by Astaire in the collection (all in French) include "Une Priere" [A Prayer], a poem written for Fred Astaire's daughter Ava Astaire (1945); untitled song lyrics, with notations by Ann Astaire (1945); "Fred et Adele Astaire" and "Fred Astaire," two poems in a single notebook (1946).

Manuscripts by Evelyn Cavendish (Duchess of Devonshire) in the collection include two histories and one description of Lismore Castle, County Waterford, Ireland; two manuscripts include notes by Ann Astaire; none are dated.

The collection also includes "At the Trocadero," a poem by Frederic Ziv (ca. 1925).

Correspondence in the collection includes personal letters from numerous notable figures in entertainment and the arts, as well as various members of the British aristocracy (as well as royalty and government figures from other countries) and several letters from Astaire's family.

Family members represented include Frederick Austerlitz (father of Adele and Fred Astaire), Fred Astaire, Ann Astaire, Phyllis Astaire, and Ava Astaire McKenzie (daughter of Fred Astaire).

Notable cultural figures represented include J. M. Barrie, Cecil Beaton, Noel Coward, Walt Disney, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Adeline Genee, Lillian Gish, Helen Hayes, Blanche Knopf, A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin Milne, George Jean Nathan, George Bernard Shaw, Hugh Walpole, and Florenz Ziegfeld.

Aristocratic and government figures include several Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire (the Cavendish family), John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Madame Wellington Koo, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, Princess Xenia of Russia, Prime Minister and Lady Dorothy MacMillan, Sir Charles and Lady Elsie Mendl, Edwina Mountbatten, Richard M. Nixon, Lord David Northesk, Lady Rani of Sarawak, relatives of the Marquess of Londonderry, members of the Windsor family (Edward Windsor, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), Queen Elizabeth II, George Windsor, and King George VI). The collection also includes a note to Astaire from Winston Churchill, written on the back of a menu card for the RMS Majestic (1932).

Journals and diaries in the collection consist of Astaire's journal for 1933 to 1961 (one bound volume) as well as her daily diaries for the years 1923 to 1959 (excluding 1942), with one diary undated. Also present in the collection is a childhood notebook by Astaire (1910), and two daily diaries kept by Lord Charles Cavendish dated 1929 and 1931.

Professional material in the collection consists of items regarding The Band Wagon, including a program, schedule, routine sheets, and a box office statement (1931-1932).

Legal material in the collection includes two contracts between Adele and Fred Astaire and their manager, Max Gordon (1931, 1932) as well as several items regarding Lord Charles Cavendish, including a passport (1928), his will (1943), and other material.

Financial material in the collection includes royalty statements for You're Such a Lot (1926-1927), notes on finances written by Ann Astaire regarding the 1929 stock market crash, and miscellaneous receipts, bank statements, and invoices.

Printed material in the collection includes newspaper and magazine clippings, magazines, theater programs and advertisements, sheet music, and other miscellaneous items.

Clippings in the collection are primarily about Adele Astaire, with a few regarding her friends, Fred Astaire, or the Astaire family; all date from the early 1900s to 1978. Magazines in the collection all feature the Astaires in some capacity; they include The Play Pictorial (1929), Harper's Bazaar (1933), and Screen Book Magazine (1935).

Theater programs for Astaire shows include Lady, Be Good at the Liberty Theater, New York (1925) and the Empire Theatre, London (1926; special performance for King George V and Queen Mary); Funny Face at the Alvin Theater, New York (ca. 1927-1928) and the Winter Garden Theater, London (1928-1929); Smiles at the Ziegfeld Theater, New York (1930; opening night program); and The Band Wagon at the New Amsterdam Theater, New York (1932). Other theater programs include The Ivory Door by A. A. Milne, at the Charles Hopkins Theater (1927; opening night program). Theater advertisements include ads for New Songs and Distinctive Dances at the Orpheum (1916-1917 season); Stop Flirting at the Grand Theatre, Hull (1924); and Smiles at the Ziegfeld Theatre (1930; announcement of premiere).

Sheet music in the collection consists of five songs from The Band Wagon (ca. 1931-1932).

The earliest photographs in the collection concern Astaire as a child and with her family; these photos contain images of Stefan Austerlitz (Astaire's grandfather) and Fred Astaire and date from ca. 1900 to ca. 1916. Other photographs include glamor and publicity photos of Astaire (ca. 1920s - early 1930s); formal and candid photos of Astaire doing Red Cross work (ca. 1941-1944); candid photos of Astaire (ca. 1932-1946); photos of Adele and Fred Astaire together (ca. 1920s - ca. 1944); photos of Astaire with Lord Charles Cavendish (ca. 1932 - ca. 1944) as well as photos of Lord Charles Cavendish and the Cavendish family (ca. late 1800s - 1970s); photos of Ann Astaire (1911-1960s); photos of Fred Astaire (1907-1970s); photos of Kingman Douglass (1940s); photos of Astaire's friends and family (1920s - 1970s), including images Margot Fonteyn, Clark Gable, George Gershwin, and Audrey Hepburn; photos of homes and locations (undated); and several other miscellaneous photographs, including a photograph of Salvador Dali's portrait of Mrs. Winston Guest, signed by Dali (1959). The collection also includes a photo album of several photos dating ca. 1960s.

Audio material in the collection consists of long-playing records. These include "The Fred Astaire Show," an undated home recording; Funny Face, by George and Ira Gershwin featuring Adele and Fred Astaire, as well as George Gershwin on piano (undated); and The Astaire Story, produced by Norman Granz, inscribed "to Delly [Adele] from F.[red Astaire]" (1952).

Artwork in the collection includes hand-illustrated paper dolls and outfits by Cecil Beaton, with two paper doll outfits cut out from magazines, as well as a color drawing of Astaire by Olive Snell.

Personal memorabilia in the collection includes child-size clothing (gypsy costume, jacket, sock) belonging to Fred Astaire (ca. early 1900s); a medal won by Adele and Fred Astaire for "Sense of Humor," from Reinhardt Galleries (ca. 1904); Queen Alexandria's handkerchief, left at Lismore Castle (1904); birth certificate of Lord Charles Cavendish; and Fred Astaire's tap shoes (1949).

Scrapbooks in the collection consist of newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, playbills, some correspondence, and other ephemera. Topics include Astaire's early career (1906-1918); various shows and performances (1916-1932); and Astaire's marriage to Lord Charles Cavendish (1931-1944).

Notable Figures
1. Astaire, Adele
Associated Subjects
1. Women's Studies Collections -- Drama, Film, and Television Subject Guide
2. Theatre and Film Subject Guide
3. Helen Deutsch Research Section
4. Motion picture industry
5. Dance – United States
6. Actresses
7. Motion pictures – United States
8. Drawings
9. Celebrities
10. Dance in motion pictures, television, etc. – United States
11. Women dancers
12. Scrapbooks
13. Audiotapes
14. Photographs
15. Diaries