Frederick Austerlitz (Astaire) was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 10,1899, younger brother of Adele, children of an Austrian immigrant (he was a successful beer-salesman), no-one had any idea that he would ever become a stage personality, or even to have anything to do with show business. Adele, on the other hand, showed blossoming talent as a five-year-old in dancing lessons, and her father encouraged her to the extent of sending her with her mother (and young Frederick) to New York to see what fame and fortune might offer there. Fred went along for the ride, as he put it years later, and it soon became obvious that here was a talent even more promising than Adele’s.
Through their teens, Fred and Adele were a team that appeared in many Broadway musicals, some great successes like “Apple Blossoms” in 1919, and sometimes their accompanist was a young man who had already had several song hits and a show for which he had written the music. It was called “Good Morning, Judge”, music by George Gershwin. George can be heard accompanying Fred on this CD.
George Gershwin died tragically young - two months short of his thirty-eighth birthday on July 11, 1937. Fred Astaire outlived him by just fifty years, during which time he made many films that reiterated his incomparable ability as a dancer - though at ballroom dancing he was only mediocre - and as a straight, even at times a dramatic actor. He had many partners as a stage dancer in those years, and was well-served by other composers, but rarely did any of these latter-day musicals reach quite the same standards as were set by the performances immortalized here, the result of an artistic partnership between the son of a well-to-do Austrian immigrant from the Midwest and the son of a poor Jewish immigrant from Brooklyn, New York. What they produced was indeed nice work - and we got it, for always.