Wednesday 17 October 2018

Centenary Girl

An anniversary worth celebrating today – the centenary of the birth of Rita Hayworth, one of the loveliest and most talented stars to grace Hollywood. Fred Astaire, when pushed on the subject, acknowledged that she was his favourite dance partner, and they were certainly well matched in their cool artistry and professionalism.
 However, to watch, they are never as eye-poppingly, soul-stirringly, exultantly right as Fred and Ginger. Really Rita is too tall for Fred, and with her long limbs her dancing tends to be that little bit too big for him. She doesn't have that effervescent joie de vivre joie de danser - that was Ginger Rogers' trademark and that so perfectly set off Astaire's cool perfection. With Fred and Rita, the romantic element was never convincing, because it was always clear that he was absolutely not the type of man she would go for. As Joseph Epstein puts it in his book on Fred Astaire: 'Rita Hayworth needed ... to play off a man she could betray for high stakes; a dangerous man, tempestuous, someone possessive and violent, as likely to slap her around as to make steamy love to her. Fred Astaire did not meet this job description.'
 However, Fred made his brief screen partnership with Rita – just two movies – work beautifully, and Hayworth, looking back, said, 'I guess the only jewels of my life were the pictures I made with Fred Astaire.' Here they are dancing an ultra-elegant rumba to Cole Porter's So Near and Yet So Far in You'll Never Get Rich. It was the only time Fred let his partner lead. Enjoy the amazing 'armography' towards the end...


  1. Fair point about height, but there was only 4cm in it (between the women).

  2. Gosh – it looks like more, but I guess what counts is how their height measures up against Fred's.