Dance Legends: Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth

Not many young movie goers of today have heard of Fred Astaire or Rita Hayworth, let alone are familiar with the enormous talents of these stars of the 1940s. Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was truly an icon – an actor, singer, choreographer, and universally regarded as the greatest dancer in film history. While Astaire was famously prolific, his body of work is also valued for its inventiveness, virtuosity, and precision of execution (have a look at today’s video clip!). Indeed, a hallmark of Astaire was his determination never to repeat himself.

Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) was christened the “Love Goddess” of Hollywood in her heydays. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era’s top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. She was also a highly accomplished dancer. Though there were other fabulously beautiful women in films, none moved like Rita. When she danced, whether solo or partnered, she was all feline fire, spontaneously making dance moves that was sheer energy combined with elegance and earthliness. Like Astaire, Rita Hayworth pretty much had it all.

Although Astaire made only two films with Rita Hayworth, he once said that Rita was his favorite dance partner. “She learned steps faster than anyone I’d ever known,” Astaire said. “I’d show her a routine before lunch. She’d be back right after lunch and have it down to perfection. She apparently figured it out in her mind while she was eating.”

Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in “You’ll Never Get Rich” (1941).

And now, over to Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth dancing to “Sway with Me”, a 1953 Latin song that is still hugely popular today. In the clip you are about to watch, Sway is sung by actor Dean Martin, who first recorded the song in 1954.

Fred Astaire with Rita Hayworth in “Sway with Me”.

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