Ginger Rogers (1911 - 1995)

A photo of Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
1911 - 1995
updated October 28, 2019
Ginger Rogers was born in 1911 in Independence, Missouri. She died on April 25, 1995 in Rancho Mirage, California at 84 years of age.

Ginger Rogers
Born July 16, 1911 in Independence, Missouri, USA
Died April 25, 1995 in Rancho Mirage, California, USA (heart failure)
Birth Name Virginia Katherine McMath
Nickname Feathers
Height 5' 4½" (1.64 m)
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped by her father several times until her mother took him to court. Ginger's mother left her child in the care of her parents while she went in search of a job as a scriptwriter in Hollywood and later to New York City. Mrs. McMath found herself with an income good enough to where she could send for Ginger. Lelee became a Marine in 1918 and was in the publicity department and Ginger went back to her grandparents in Missouri. During this time her mother met John Rogers. After leaving the Marines they married in May, 1920 in Liberty, Missouri. He was transferred to Dallas and Ginger (who treated him as a father) went too. Ginger won a Charleston contest in 1925 (age 14) and a 4 week contract on the Interstate circuit. She also appeared in vaudeville acts which she did until she was 17 with her mother by her side to guide her. Now she had discovered true acting. She married in March, 1929, and after several months realized she had made a mistake. She acquired an agent and she did several short films. She went to New York where she appeared in the Broadway production of "Top Speed" which debuted Christmas Day, 1929. Her first film was in 1929 in A Night in a Dormitory (1930). It was a bit part, but it was a start. Later that year, Ginger appeared, briefly in two more films, A Day of a Man of Affairs (1929) and Campus Sweethearts (1930). For awhile she did both movies and theatre. The following year she began to get better parts in films such as Office Blues (1930) and The Tip-Off (1931). But the movie that enamored her to the public was Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933). She did not have top billing but her beauty and voice was enough to have the public want more. One song she popularized in the film was the now famous, "We're in the Money". Also in 1933 she was in 42nd Street (1933). She suggested using a monocle and this also set her apart. In 1934, she starred with Dick Powell in Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934). It was a well received film about the popularity of radio. Ginger's real stardom occurred when she was teamed with Fred Astaire where they were one of the best cinematic couples ever to hit the silver screen. This is where she achieved real stardom. They were first paired in 1933's Flying Down to Rio (1933) and later in 1935's Roberta (1935) and Top Hat (1935). Ginger also appeared in some very good comedies such as Bachelor Mother (1939) and 5th Ave Girl (1939) both in 1939. Also that year she appeared with Astaire in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). The film made money but was not anywhere successful as they had hoped. After that studio executives at RKO wanted Ginger to strike out on her own. She made several dramatic pictures but it was 1940's Kitty Foyle (1940) that allowed her to shine. Playing a young lady from the wrong side of the tracks, she played the lead role well, so well in fact, that she won an Academy Award for her portrayal. Ginger followed that project with the delightful comedy, Tom, Dick and Harry (1941) the following year. It's a story where she has to choose which of three men she wants to marry. Through the rest of the 1940s and early 1950s she continued to make movies but not near the caliber before World War II. After Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1957) in 1957, Ginger didn't appear on the silver screen for seven years. By 1965, she had appeared for the last time in Harlow (1965). Afterward, she appeared on Broadway and other stage plays traveling in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. After 1984, she retired and wrote an autobiography in 1991 entitled, "Ginger, My Story". On April 25, 1995, Ginger died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson
Spouse (5)
William Marshall (16 March 1961 - 1969) ( divorced)
Jacques Bergerac (7 February 1953 - 7 July 1957) ( divorced)
Jack Briggs (16 January 1943 - 7 September 1949) ( divorced)
Lew Ayres (14 November 1934 - 20 March 1941) ( divorced)
Jack Pepper (29 March 1929 - 11 July 1931) ( divorced)


Ginger Rogers Biography

With today's technology we are able to write and share our own history which lasts forever online. Our ancestors never had a chance to document their lives. This biography is dedicated to memorialize the life of Ginger Rogers, honor her ancestry & genealogy, and her immediate Rogers family.

Most Commonly Known Name

Ginger Rogers

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Middle name


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Last Name(s)

Nickname(s) or aliases

Virginia Katherine McMath




Ginger Rogers was born in in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri United States


Ginger Rogers died on in Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California United States 92270

Cause of death

Heart Failure

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She and Fred Astaire acted in 10 movies together: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Carefree (1938), Flying Down to Rio (1933), Follow the Fleet (1936), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Shall We Dance (1937), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Swing Time (1936), and Top Hat (1935).

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I met her at Radio City Music Hall and she was willing to meet anyone who wanted to meet her! So warm and sweet and lovely.
Mar 17, 2019 · Reply

Ginger Rogers Obituary

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Daughter of Lela E. Rogers.
Was a Christian Scientist.
Was given the name "Ginger" by her little cousin who couldn't pronounce "Virginia" correctly.
Brought her first cousin Helen Nichols to Hollywood, renamed her Phyllis Fraser, and guided her through a few films. Phyllis Fraser married and then became known as Phyllis Fraser.
Interred at Oakwood Memorial Park, Chatsworth, California, USA, the same cemetery as long-time dancing/acting partner Fred Astaire is located.
She didn't drink alcohol and had her very own ice cream soda fountain.
Directed her first stage musical, "Babes In Arms", at age 74.
Was fashion consultant for the J.C. Penney chain from 1972-1975.
A keen artist, Rogers did many paintings, sculptures and sketches in her free time, but could never bring herself to sell any of them.
Author Graham Greene always said he would have liked Rogers to play the role of Aunt Augusta in the film version of his novel "Travels With My Aunt." When the film Travels with My Aunt (1972) was made in 1972, the role was played by Maggie Smith.
Always the outdoor sporty type, she was a near-champion tennis player.
Related to Random House publisher and What's My Line? (1950) panelist Bennett Cerf through marriage; Cerf married Rogers' cousin Phyllis Fraser.
Was asked to replace Judy Garland in both Harlow (1965) and Valley of the Dolls (1967). Rogers turned down 'Valley of the Dolls' because she hated the script; she did, however, accept 'Harlow'.
First cousin, once removed, of Christopher Cerf and Jonathan Cerf.
Turned down lead roles in To Each His Own (1946) and The Snake Pit (1948). Both of these roles went on to be played to great acclaim by Olivia de Havilland.
Her first teaming with Fred Astaire, Flying Down to Rio (1933), was her 20th film appearance but only Astaire's second.
In a 1991 TV interview, when asked why the Fred Astaire / Rogers union wasn't known as "Ginger & Fred" rather than "Fred & Ginger" (as Rogers had been in films longer), she replied, "It's a man's world".
Her tied-to-the-hip relationship with her mother, Lela E. Rogers, proved eternal. They're buried side by side at Oakwood Memorial Park. The grave of Ginger's screen partner, Fred Astaire, is just yards away.
She and Fred Astaire acted in 10 movies together: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Carefree (1938), Flying Down to Rio (1933), Follow the Fleet (1936), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Shall We Dance (1937), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), Swing Time (1936), and Top Hat (1935).
She was of Scottish, Welsh, English, and Irish ancestry.
Has a street named after her in Rancho Mirage, California, her final winter home. Ginger Rogers Road is located in the Mission Hills Golf Course. It crosses Bob Hope Drive, between Gerald Ford Drive and Dinah Shore Drive and two blocks from Frank Sinatra Drive.
Salary for 1938: $219,500 (adjusted for 2017 inflation: approximately $3.8 million).
One of the celebrities whose picture Anne Frank placed on the wall of her bedroom in the "Secret Annex" while in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, Holland.
Her great-great-grandfather was a doctor who discovered quinine, a treatment for malaria.
She first introduced the song "The Continental" in The Gay Divorcee (1934) and it went on to be the first song that won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Was offered the part of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940), but she turned it down. Rosalind Russell was cast instead. Was good friends with actress Maureen O'Hara since the late 1930s.
When Rogers received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1992, Robyn Smith, widow of Fred Astaire, withheld all rights to clips of Rogers' scenes with Astaire, demanding payment. The Kennedy Center refused and Rogers received her honor without the retrospective show.
All of her five marriages lasted under a decade. Her longest marriage was her last, to William Marshall, which lasted eight years. She never had children.
Rogers holds the record for actresses at New York's prestigious Radio City Music Hall with 23 films for a total of 55 weeks. She won the Best Actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle (1940) at The 13th Academy Awards on February 27, 1941.
Fred Astaire confided to Raymond Rohauer, curator of New York Gallery of Modern Art, "Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work fine for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success". Made the cover of Life magazine four times: August 22, 1938, December 9, 1940, March 2, 1942, and September 5, 1951.
In 1976, when Fred Astaire was asked by British TV interviewer Michael Parkinson on Parkinson (1971) who his favorite dancing partner was, Astaire answered, "Excuse me, I must say Ginger was certainly the one. You know the most effective partner I ever had. Everyone knows. That was a whole other thing what we did...I just want to pay a tribute to Ginger because we did so many pictures together and believe me it was a value to have that girl...she had it. She was just great!"
Appeared in five Oscar Best Picture nominees: 42nd Street (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Stage Door (1937) and Kitty Foyle (1940).
At the age of 19 she was chosen to introduce "Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me" is George & Ira Gershwin's Girl Crazy on Broadway in which Ethel Merman introduced "I Got Rhythm.".
She has appeared in five films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: 42nd Street (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936).

Other Records of Ginger Rogers

1911 - 1995 World Events

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In 1911, in the year that Ginger Rogers was born, the United States Supreme Court broke up Standard Oil in May. John D. Rockefeller established Standard Oil in 1870 and it was the largest oil refinery at the time. The Supreme Court found that Standard Oil of New Jersey (one of the many iterations of Standard Oil) was guilty of "monopolizing the petroleum industry through a series of abusive and anticompetitive actions". The Court broke up the several entities that comprised Standard Oil and they eventually became competing firms.

In 1929, when she was 18 years old, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre happened on February 14th. In Chicago, seven men from the North Side Irish gang were gunned down by Al Capone's South Side Italian gang at the garage at 2122 North Clark Street. Al Capone was making a successful move to take over Chicago's organized crime. But the St. Valentine's Day massacre also resulted in a public outcry against all gangsters.

In 1935, when she was 24 years old, the BOI's name (the Bureau of Investigation) was changed to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and it officially became a separate agency with the Department of Justice. J. Edgar Hoover, the Chief of the BOI, continued in his office and became the first Director of the FBI. The FBI's responsibility is to "detect and prosecute crimes against the United States".

In 1961, when she was 50 years old, on May 5th, Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made the first manned Project Mercury flight, MR-3, in a spacecraft he named Freedom 7. He was the second man to go into space, the first was Yuri Gagarin - a Soviet cosmonaut.

In 1995, in the year of Ginger Rogers's passing, on September 3rd, eBay was founded in San Jose California. Beginning as simply a place for Pierre Omidyar's girlfriend (now wife) to share her Pez passion and collection online, the site has become a multibillion-dollar business and operates in 30 countries.

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