Edit
Ginger Rogers Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (47) | Personal Quotes (27) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 16 July 1911Independence, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 25 April 1995Rancho Mirage, California, USA  (congestive heart failure)
Birth NameVirginia Katherine McMath
Nickname Feathers
Height 5' 4½" (1.64 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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 Missiouri. 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. She suggested using a monocle and this also set her apart. One song she popularized in the film was the now famous, "We're in the Money". 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" which is a very good book. 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 1940) (divorced)
Jack Pepper (29 March 1929 - 11 July 1931) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Often starred with Fred Astaire
Corn-fed good looks

Trivia (47)

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.
Sort-of cousin of Rita Hayworth. Ginger's aunt married Rita's uncle.
She didn't drink: she 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, Ginger did many paintings, sculptures and sketches in her free time but could never bring herself to sell any of them.
Was Hollywood's highest paid star of 1942.
Author Graham Greene always said he would have liked Ginger 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.
The well-known quote often attributed to her--"My first picture was [Kitty Foyle (1940)]. It was my mother who made all those films with Fred Astaire"--was actually fabricated for a 1966 article in "Films In Review".
Always the outdoor sporty type, she was a near-champion tennis player, a topline shot and loved going fishing.
She made her final public appearance on 3/18/95 (just five weeks before her death) when she received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award.
Was badly affected by illness in her last years after suffering two strokes that had left her wheelchair-bound and visibly overweight, while her voice had become a shrunken rasp.
Related to Random House publisher and What's My Line? (1950) panelist Bennett Cerf through marriage, when he married Ginger's cousin Phyllis Fraser, who later became known as Phyllis Fraser.
Was asked to replace Judy Garland in both Harlow (1965) and Valley of the Dolls (1967). She turned down "Dolls" because she hated the script; she did, however, accept Harlow (1965). She played Jean Harlow's mother and, unlike the movie, garnered good reviews. The film was made in only eight days.
First cousin, once removed, of Christopher Cerf and Jonathan Cerf.
Was a life-long Republican.
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 Ginger 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.
Was named #14 Actress on The AFI 50 Greatest Screen Legends
Is one of the many movie stars mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue"
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)
A distant cousin of Lucille Ball, according to Lucie Arnaz.
She was of Welsh and Scottish heritage.
During the last years of her life she retired in Oregon and bought a ranch in the Medford area because she liked the climate. She donated money to the community and funded the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in downtown Medford, which was named after her.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by either Lidia Simoneschi or Wanda Tettoni. She was occasionally dubbed by Andreina Pagnani; Dhia Cristiani; Rosetta Calavetta and Giovanna Scotto.
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 2 blocks from Frank Sinatra Drive.
She was a conservative Republican, a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a Christian Scientist and a vocal supporter of the Hollywood blacklist.
Salary for 1938, $219,500.
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, the cure for malaria.
For the "Cheek to Cheek" number in Top Hat (1935), she wanted to wear an elaborate blue dress heavily decked out with ostrich feathers. When director Mark Sandrich and Fred Astaire saw the dress, they knew it would be impractical for the dance. Sandrich suggested that Rogers wear the white gown she had worn performing "Night and Day" in The Gay Divorcee (1934). Rogers walked off the set, finally returning when Sandrich agreed to let her wear the offending blue dress. As there was no time for rehearsals, she wore the blue feathered dress for the first time during filming of the "Cheek to Cheek" number, and as Astaire and Sandrich had feared, feathers started coming off the dress. Astaire later claimed it was like "a chicken being attacked by a coyote". In the final film, some stray feathers can be seen drifting off it. To patch up the rift between them, Astaire presented Rogers with a locket of a gold feather. This was the origin of Rogers' nickname "Feathers". The shedding feathers episode was recreated to hilarious results in a scene from Easter Parade (1948) in which Astaire danced with a clumsy, comical dancer played by Judy Garland.
Turned down Donna Reed's role in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
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.
Replaced Judy Garland in the film The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) after Garland was suspended from MGM due to her tardiness.
Was offered the part of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940), but she turned it down. As a result Rosalind Russell was cast instead.
Inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2009.
Was good friends with actress Maureen O'Hara since the late 1930s.
When Ginger 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.
Despite being married 5 times, all of her marriages ended under a decade. Her longest marriage was her last, to William Marshall, which lasted 8 years.
Rogers holds the record for actresses at New York's prestigious Rdio City Music Hall with 23 films for a total of 55 weeks.
According to the 1974 book "Holly-Would" Rogers was taught the Charleston by Eddie Foy Jr. and went on the win the championship of Texas when she was only fifteen.

Personal Quotes (27)

My mother told me I was dancing before I was born. She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months.
When two people love each other, they don't look at each other, they look in the same direction.
[1983] They're not going to get my money to see the junk that's made today.
The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.
[in the early 1930s] I don't know which I like best. I love the applause on the stage. But pictures are so fascinating - you reach many millions through them. And you make more money, too.
When you're happy, you don't count the years.
Hollywood is like an empty wastebasket.
[on her partnership with Fred Astaire] After all, it's not as if we were Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. We did have careers apart from each other.
The most important thing in anyone's life is to be giving something. The quality I can give is fun, joy and happiness. This is my gift.
[on working with Katharine Hepburn] She is snippy, you know, which is a shame. She was never on my side.
[1987] It'd be fun to have a chum around, but it's very hard to have a chum unless you're married to him. And I don't believe in today's concept for living with someone unmarried.
Even when one is of a certain age to make one's own decisions, there are many times when it is great to be able to go back and talk it over with the people one loves - one's family.
[her explanation for bringing excess luggage to London in 1969 for her year-long stint on stage as "Mame"] I believe in dressing for the occasion. There's a time for sweater, sneakers and Levis and a time for the full-dress jazz. As for the little touches, well, a year is quite a long time and they make one feel at home.
[on her screen partnership with Fred Astaire] We had fun and it shows. True, we were never bosom buddies off the screen; we were different people with different interests. We were only a couple on film.
I'm most grateful to have had that joyous time in motion pictures. It really was a Golden Age of Hollywood. Pictures were talking, they were singing, they were coloring. It was beginning to blossom out: bud and blossom were both present.
In everything that I do I learn and try to put it to use. I have learned to go through life not into it. It's like a boat. You mustn't let the water in or you're sunk. Of course, I've made mistakes and I have had failures, but I do not dwell on them because people don't care about garbage. When I make a mistake it's like a bad leaf on a lettuce
  • I throw it out into the wastebasket.

I don't care what the critics say. My fabulous mom will give me a good review if nobody else does.
You bring out a lot of your own thoughts and attitudes when acting. I think a great deal of it has to do with the inner you. You know, there's nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are a lot of strong women you do not see who are guiding, helping, mothering strong men. They want to remain unseen. It's kind of nice to be able to play a strong woman who is seen.
It was tough being a woman in the theatrical business in those days.
[speaking in 1975] The '30s were such a pretty time. I know it was a bad time for an awful lot of people, but not for me. I remember the whole atmosphere, the ambiance of the '30s with a glow because success was knocking at my door. I got to California in '32, just in time to do Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), where I sang "We're In the Money". It was a whole new life for me. I was excited about it. It was happy and beautiful and gay and interesting. I was surrounded by marvelous people, all the top people of our industry.
I think the motion pictures talked themselves out of business when they sold their backlogs [to TV networks]. They sold what they thought were old clothes. It turns out some of them had better material in them than their new ones.
[on being asked in 1943 what a girl needs to be a movie star] Intelligence, adaptability and talent. And by talent I mean the capacity for hard work. Lots of girls come here with little but good looks. Beauty is a valuable asset, but it is not the whole cheese.
Rhythm is born in all of us. To be a desirable dancing partner you don't have to do all the intricate fancy steps that happen to be in vogue. All you have to do is be a good average dancer and anybody who spends the time and effort can accomplish this.
I believe in living each day as it comes, to the best of my ability. When it's done, I put it away, remembering that there will be a tomorrow to take it's place. If I have any philosophy, that's it. To me it's not a fatalistic attitude.
[on Fred Astaire, 1976] I adore the man. I always have adored him. It was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me, being teamed with Fred: he was everything a little starry-eyed girl from a small town ever dreamed of.
{on Howard Hughes] Howard was one of the best dancers I ever knew, and fascinating to be with. Terribly bright and intelligent. But he was immersed in his work.
I'me made thousands of mistakes, but they've all been stepping stones toward a better concept of life.

Salary (1)

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) $12,500/week

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page