Frederick Austerlitz was born on May 10, 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska.  He actually entered the world of show biz at the tender age of 4 1/2, although he didn't know it at the time; he was only accompanying his parents and his sister Adele to New York. 
Adele was to have dancing lessons, and she soon had an initially reluctant partner in her younger brother.  The team gave their first professional performance in November 1905 in Keyport, New Jersey. Fred was 6 1/2 years old, Adele 9.

Fred and Adele grew up dancing together in vaudeville, and were bonafide stars while still in their teens and twenties, with smash hits on the New York and London stages.  

When Adele left the theatre to marry in 1932, Fred went out on his own.  He scored a major success in "The Gay Divorce" in New York and in London the following year.
Soon, however, Astaire agreed to test for films.  One studio executive's report on this screen test has been quoted many times over the years, but it is still just too good to pass up here: "Can't act.  Slightly bald.  Also dances."

Despite this priceless commentary, Astaire did receive a contract and he and his brand new wife Phyllis headed for Hollywood in 1933.

circa 1910
c. 1910
with Adele, 1909
Fred and Adele, 1909...
with Adele, 1931
...and in 1931

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