Hermes, his sister and mother duly piled into an old Ford they'd bought for $75 and set off for California - an epic journey in those pre-interstate days. Two years later, Pan was working on the set of Flying Down to Rio when Astaire, working out steps for the 'Carioca' number, asked him if he had any ideas. He did. And so began a long, happy and fruitful collaboration, which only ended with the disastrous Finian's Rainbow (1968), whose young director, one Francis Ford Coppola, ignored all Astaire and Pan's dance ideas, and sacked Pan.
By then, however, Pan and Astaire had a great body of classic work behind them. The two men were natural collaborators, who seemed to understand each other instinctively - and, crucially, Pan was prepared to work every bit as hard as the notorious perfectionist Astaire. Indeed, on top of working intensively with Fred, Pan also had to rehearse Ginger, whose busy filming schedule often didn't fit with Astaire's rehearsal sessions. Another part of Pan's job was to join Fred in adding the tap soundtrack to dance sequences - he tapped for Ginger. The wonderful thing is that the two men had a great time doing all this, finding plenty of fun and laughter in it (see the RKO publicity picture above). As Pan said, 'All dancers are children. They have to be in order to let themselves move unself-consciously.'
Some of Pan's choreography tended towards a slightly kitsch 'arty' style that really didn't suit Astaire. But when he worked with Fred's easy charm and effortless physical grace - and sense of humour - the results were unsurpassably brilliant. Here's one of the very best... Enjoy!