Ginger Rogers (1911 - 1995)

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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 & Family History

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Birth

in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri United States

Death

on in Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California United States
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Cause of death

Heart Failure

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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).

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Gender

Female

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Timeline

1911 - In the year that Ginger Rogers was born, the first use of aircraft as an offensive weapon occurred in the Turkish-Italian War. First used for aerial reconnaissance alone, planes were then used in aerial combat to shoot down recon planes. In World War I, planes and zeppelins evolved for use in bombing.

1932 - By the time she was 21 years old, on February 27th, actress Elizabeth Taylor was born in London. Her parents were Americans living in London and when she was 7, the family moved to Los Angeles. Her first small part in a movie was in There's One Born Every Minute in 1942 but her first starring role was in National Velvet in 1944. She became as famous for her 8 marriages (to 7 people) as she was for her beauty and films.

1934 - Ginger was 23 years old when on June 6th, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was formed as a response to the stock market crash of 1929 and the continuing Great Depression. Previously, the states regulated the offering and sales of stocks - called "blue sky" laws. They were largely ineffective. Roosevelt created a group (one member was Joseph Kennedy, father of the future President Kennedy) who knew Wall Street well and they defined the mission and operating mode for the SEC. The new organization had broad and stringent rules and oversight and restored public confidence in the stock market in the United States.

1936 - At the age of 25 years old, Ginger was alive when on November 3rd, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected to a second term. He ran against Republican Governor Alf Landon (Kansas), defeating Landon in the popular vote by 60.8% to 36.5%. Vermont and Maine were the only two states in which Landon won. John Nance Garner IV became the Vice-President in this election.

1995 - In the year of Ginger Rogers's passing, on October 16th, the Million Man March took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. The March was organized to address "the ills of black communities and call for unity and revitalization of African American communities". An estimated 850,000 people attended.

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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).

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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 · Reply

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