AstaireBio pg.2
with Joan CrawfordAlthough his contract was with RKO Studios, Fred's first appearance on film was in MGM's  Dancing Lady, which starred Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Franchot Tone.  Fred played himself, introduced by Gable as "the dancer from New York."

Upon completion of this cameo appearance, Fred began his first film under his RKO contract, Flying Down to Rio. Rio starred Dolores Del Rio and Gene Raymond, and for the second leads, Fred was paired with a young RKO contract player by the name of...Ginger Rogers.  The two literally stole the show when they put their foreheads together and danced the steamy (for 1933) "Carioca." ("It's really nothing like the Polka"!) with Ginger Rogers

 

 

RKO knew a lucrative team when they saw one, and Fred and Ginger were immediately given their own starring vehicle, The Gay Divorcee, released in 1934.  The movie was a huge success, and like it or not, Astaire and Rogers were America's dancing sweethearts, forever linked in the public's mind.  Each had a chemistry with the other that was not there with anyone else.  As Katharine Hepburn put it: "He gives her class, she gives him sex appeal."  The two would make a total of 10 films together, 9 in the 1930's, plus a reunion in 1949.

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