The True Nature Of The Relationship Between Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were one of the biggest Hollywood duos of all time, perhaps the most famous: their dance moves captivated the world during the Golden Age of Hollywood. But what was the story behind the partnership? Well, Ginger told all in her 1991 autobiography Ginger: My Story. Let’s take a look at the real relationship between Rogers and Astaire and find out what those dance moves really meant.


Rogers was born with the name Virginia McMath. But one of her young cousins couldn’t pronounce “Virginia” and ended up calling her “Ginger” instead. Thanks in part to her red hair, the nickname stuck.

Rogers didn’t have that great a childhood. Her mother split from her father, and he didn’t take it well. He tried to steal his daughter away not once but twice. Then, after the divorce went through, Rogers never saw him again.

Mother and daughter

Rogers adored her mother, Lela, who was connected with the movie industry: she worked as a screenwriter for silent films. And Lela knew her daughter had the skills to make it in Hollywood.

The young Rogers spent her much of her formative childhood years performing in vaudeville. As an adult, she wrote in her autobiography, “I loved every minute of my theatrical experience.”

Early life

In 1925 a 14-year-old Rogers entered a dance contest and won. As a prize, she got to tour for six months as “Ginger Rogers and the Redheads.” In case you were wondering, her new surname was taken from her mother’s second husband.

Assisted all the way by her mother, Rogers went from success to success. One year after winning the contest, Rogers was featured in an MGM film called The Barrier. Movie stardom awaited for the beautiful young dancer.


Meanwhile Fred Astaire was also rising to fame. He had followed a slightly different path to Rogers, but he had also been encouraged by his family to pursue his talents.

Astaire had an older sister named Adele who was also a very talented dancer, and young Fred followed in her footsteps. The pair became a brother-sister act and by 1917 they’d made it to Broadway.