Eighty years ago today on December 29, 1933, RKO studios released the film Flying Down to Rio. Few were prepared for the phenomenon that the fourth- and fifth-billed actors, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, would become. “We’ll show them a thing or three,” says Ginger as Fred sweeps her onto the dance floor. And indeed they did. Thus began the film partnership that would last for nine more films and the magical chemistry captured onscreen that would last for much much longer.
Although Astaire and Rogers did many things in their movies besides dance—the way they looked and read their lines and wore their clothes and sang in their funny voices has become legendary, too, and they could make a song a hit without dancing to it—it was through their dancing that the public few to love them and to identify their moods, the depth of their involvement, and the exquisite sexual harmony that made them not only the ideal dancing couple but the ideal romantic team. No dancers ever reached a wider public, and the stunning fact is that Astaire and Rogers, whose love scenes were their dances, became the most popular team the movies have ever known. —Arlene Croce
Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success. —Fred Astaire
I loved Fred so, and I mean that in the nicest, warmest way: I had such affection for him artistically. I think that experience with Fred was a divine blessing. It blessed me, I know, and I don’t think blessings are one sided. —Ginger Rogers