Fred Astaire (Icons of America) (Paperback)

Fred Astaire (Icons of America) By Joseph Epstein Cover Image

Fred Astaire (Icons of America) (Paperback)

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November 2008 Indie Next List


“How could a string bean with an oversize forehead, jug ears, and an obvious toupee be one of the romantic leads of movie history? Epstein meditates on this heavenly hoofer from every angle, and the results will have you jonesing for a TCM movie marathon.”
— Daniel Goldin, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, WI

A portrait of America’s most graceful and elegant male dancer and how he came to represent the essence of style, suavity, and charm

Joseph Epstein’s Fred Astaire investigates the great dancer’s magical talent, taking up the story of his life, his personality, his work habits, his modest pretensions, and above all his accomplishments. Written with the wit and grace the subject deserves, Fred Astaire provides a remarkable portrait of this extraordinary artist and how he came to embody for Americans a fantasy of easy elegance and, paradoxically, of democratic aristocracy.

Tracing Astaire’s life from his birth in Omaha to his death in his late eighties in Hollywood, the book discusses his early days with his talented and outspoken sister Adele, his gifts as a singer (Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern all delighted in composing for Astaire), and his many movie dance partners, among them Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, and Betty Hutton. A key chapter of the book is devoted to Astaire’s somewhat unwilling partnership with Ginger Rogers, the woman with whom he danced most dazzlingly. What emerges from these pages is a fascinating view of an American era, seen through the accomplishments of Fred Astaire, an unassuming but uncompromising performer who transformed entertainment into art and gave America a new yet enduring standard for style.

Joseph Epstein is the author of, among other books, Snobbery, Friendship, and Fabulous Small Jews. He has been editor of American Scholar and has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Commentary, Town and Country, and other magazines.

Product Details ISBN: 9780300158441
ISBN-10: 0300158440
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: October 6th, 2009
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Icons of America

"Epstein writes like an insider chatting over mai tais at the Brown Derby."—Patricia Volk, O, the Oprah Magazine
-Patricia Volk

"It''s a joy to read Epstein on virtually any subject upon which he decides to write, but Epstein on Astaire is especially magical."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
-Julia Keller

"Nicely paced, almost scientifically analytical in explaining why Astaire became a legend while others merely became movie stars, and filled with illuminating asides and unexpected wisecracks. . . . My top hat''s off to this guy."—Joe Queenan, Toronto Globe & Mail
-Joe Queenan