Ginger Rogers

(1911 - 1995)

A photo of Ginger Rogers
Add photo
Ginger Rogers
1911 - 1995
Born
1911
Independence, Jackson County, Missouri United States
Death
April 25, 1995
Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California United States 92270
Other Names
Virginia Katherine McMath
Summary
Ginger Rogers was born in 1911 in Independence, Missouri. She died on April 25, 1995 in Rancho Mirage, California at 84 years of age.
4 Followers
Updated: October 28, 2019
ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM
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)

Show & Tell Her Story
Share your memories, family stories, & photos so that Ginger is always remembered.
Biography
Ginger Rogers
Most commonly known name
Ginger Rogers
Full name
Virginia Katherine McMath
Nickname(s) or aliases
Female
Gender
Ginger Rogers was born in in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri United States
Birth
Ginger Rogers died on in Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California United States 92270
Death
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
Birth
Death
Heart Failure
Cause of death
Heritage
Childhood
Adulthood

Professions

MOVIE STAR
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).
Obituary

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different Ginger Rogers?
View other bios of people named Ginger Rogers

Ginger's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Rogers family tree.

Ginger's Family

Parent
Parent
Ginger Rogers
Partner
Child
Partner
Child
Sibling

Friends:

Add bio

Leave a comment to ask questions, share information, or simply to show that you care about Ginger.

Cancel
Member since 2014
Amanda S. Stevenson
12.5k+ favorites
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

Share Ginger's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

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).

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Ginger's lifetime.

In 1911, in the year that Ginger Rogers was born, the first Indianapolis 500 was run in May. Ray Harroun was the winner - he was an engineer and had retired from racing but he came back for this race. After the race, he retired for good. The purse was $27,550 - the largest offered up to that time - and Harroun received $10,000 for first place. His average time was 74.602 mph.

In 1931, by the time she was 20 years old, on May 1st, the Empire State Building opened in New York City. At 1,454 feet (including the roof and antenna), it was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center's North Tower was built in 1970. (It is now the 34th tallest.) Opening at the beginning of the Great Depression, most of the offices in the Empire State Building remained unoccupied for years and the observation deck was an equal source of revenue and kept the building profitable.

In 1961, Ginger was 50 years old when 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 1971, at the age of 60 years old, Ginger was alive when in March, Congress passed the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18 (from 21). It was a response to the criticism that men could fight at 18, but not vote for the policies and politicians who sent them to war. The states quickly ratified the Amendment and it was signed into law on July 1st by President Richard Nixon.

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.

Other Rogers

Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Biography
1968 - Unknown 1968 - ?
Biography
Jun 14, 1993 - Oct 28, 2020 1993 - 2020
Biography
May 8, 1989 - Unknown 1989 - ?
Biography
Sep 20, 1964 - Unknown 1964 - ?
Biography
1833 - Nov 19, 1906 1833 - 1906
Biography
1832 - 1906 1832 - 1906
Biography
Sep 1, 1869 - Jan 7, 1890 1869 - 1890
Biography
1863 - Unknown 1863 - ?
Biography
1865 - Unknown 1865 - ?
Biography
1861 - 1890 1861 - 1890
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Biography
1827 - Unknown 1827 - ?
Biography
1888 - Unknown 1888 - ?
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Biography
Apr 25, 1949 - Apr 5, 2004 1949 - 2004
Biography
1950 - Unknown 1950 - ?
Biography
1955 - Unknown 1955 - ?
Biography
Unknown - 1974 ? - 1974
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?

Other Bios

Biography
May 15, 1878 - Unknown 1878 - ?
Biography
Jan 26, 1875 - Mar 2, 1931 1875 - 1931
Biography
Dec 20, 1881 - 1969 1881 - 1969
Biography
Jul 22, 1924 - May 13, 2002 1924 - 2002
Biography
Nov 25, 1903 - Apr 19, 1928 1903 - 1928
Biography
Mar 27, 1901 - Unknown 1901 - ?
Biography
1927 - Feb 1, 2006 1927 - 2006
Biography
Aug 18, 1880 - Dec 22, 1931 1880 - 1931
Biography
Dec 23, 1880 - Unknown 1880 - ?
Biography
Mar 13, 1911 - Unknown 1911 - ?
Biography
Jun 30, 1913 - Sep 1, 1976 1913 - 1976
Biography
Jan 1, 1879 - Unknown 1879 - ?
Biography
May 18, 1938 - 2016 1938 - 2016
Biography
Feb 15, 1932 - May 8, 2002 1932 - 2002
Biography
Mar 26, 1958 - Unknown 1958 - ?
Biography
Aug 18, 1964 - Unknown 1964 - ?
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Biography
Sep 8, 1877 - Dec 14, 1962 1877 - 1962
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Biography
Dec 30, 1901 - Feb 22, 1978 1901 - 1978
The McCarthy Era - The Red Scare of the 1950's
Attacking political opponents with unfair or unsubstantiated accusations is nothing new. Today's "fake news" may be more w...
The Wonderful Marilyn Monroe
Born on June 1st 1926, Marilyn Monroe would be over 90 now but people will remember her as a sexy 20 or 30-something forev...
A Father's Love Can't Be Matched
Fathers have always been honored: in Europe, the Catholic population as far back as the Middle Ages have celebrated father...
Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
"Thank you for helping me find my family & friends again so many years after I lost them. I get the chance to remember them all this time later."

Highlights of just a few of the many successes of sharing memories on AncientFaces. From reuniting lost or 'orphan' photos with their families, seeing faces of relatives for the first time, to the many connections made with family & friends.

These special moments are why it's important we share.
Back to Top