Way before Dancing with the Stars ever existed, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers glided onto the silver screen and showed us how a proper foxtrot was done.
Hands down, without a doubt, this is Hollywood’s most famous dancing duo from the bygone era. This legendary pair delighted movie goers with their graceful elegant dance moves from 1933 to 1939. The Depression years were one of the bleakest in history but these two lifted the spirits of an entire nation with their light hearted movies. They were dance partners for only 6 years but their undeniable chemistry has been captured on film forever. Celebrated Hollywood actress Katherine Hepburn once said of this pair,
“He gives her class and she gives him sex appeal.”
Who can argue with Katherine Hepburn? Maybe Spencer Tracy.
They were not married to each other. Both had significant others. Yet, their fame and fortune came through each other and their creative collaboration. Neither one had any success making it big on their own in the movie industry until they were forced to pair up by the now defunct, RKO Radio Pictures.
Astaire, who has spent his childhood dancing and touring with his sister Adele, had serious reservations about being pigeon-holed into another dancing partnership. He said this of Ginger Rogers,
“I don’t mind making another picture with her, but as for this ‘team’ idea, it’s ‘out!’ I’ve just managed to live down one partnership and I don’t want to be bothered with any more.”
Little did he know.
Once paired up, they soared into fame making some of the biggest box office successes for RKO Radio Pictures such as Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, The Gay Divorcee and Roberta. What was the spark that catapulted them to stardom?
Fred Astaire was born Frederick Austerlitz in Omaha, Nebraska on May 10, 1899 at 9:16 p.m. He was the second child of Johanna and Fritz Austerlitz. Johanna being a show biz mom saw her children as being her ticket out of dreary, dull, Omaha.
Astaire’s sister, Adele, showed talent as a singer and dancer at a young age. Fred was pushed to be his sister’s dance partner and was seen as the less talented of the two siblings. Fred was a natural mimicker and copied his sister’s dance moves early on. Unlike his sister, he had durability. Through sheer determination and hard work, his talent soon overshadowed his sister’s. He also took up singing, playing the piano and accordion.
Fred Astaire befriended George and Ira Gershwin in the 1920s and as a result, him and his sister appeared in several of their Broadway plays such as Funny Face, Lady Be Good and The Band Wagon. By the 1930s Adele had married a duke and their dancing partnership had dissolved. With the success of the Gershwin plays, Fred headed for Hollywood for a screen test. Unfortunately, he tested very poorly. He was no Cary Grant and was not considered leading man material by the studio heads. David O Selznick was quoted as saying,
“I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.”
Fred Astaire had a tenacious, grounded and determined Taurus Sun. This Taurus Sun had only one aspect in the form of quincunx from a retrograde Saturn in Sagittarius sitting in Astaire’s first house. Fred Astaire had a fierce, unwavering, discipline that put others to shame. Sadly, this talent came from a feeling of lack and insecurity which he must have experienced all his life. Early on, he was compared to his sister and later on in life he was overshadowed by his glamorous dance partners.
Whenever dealing with the chart of someone that shows talent in the area of physical strength, grace and coordination, I zero in on Mars and Saturn in their chart. Astaire, of course, had that retrograde Saturn nuzzled up to his Sagittarius Ascendant which is considered a Gauquelin Sector.
Famed French psychologist and statistician, Michel Gauquelin made it his life’s work to document the natal charts of famous sportsmen, soldiers, poets and actors to see if there is a correlation between their natal planetary positions and their chosen profession or natural abilities. He analyzed and categorized more than 500,000 natal charts in his lifetime. A clear pattern emerged with the natal positions of the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn from the charts that he studied. He published his findings in The influence of the Stars in 1951. The planetary positions were affectionately coined “Gauquelin Sector” after its founder.
The Gauquelin Sector is usually angular (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th houses) in the chart and spills into the cadent houses (12th, 3rd, 6th, 9th). If you are lucky enough to host any of those four planets in a Gauquelin Sector, you possess a natural-born talent and inclination for a profession supporting the planetary archetype. Talented athletes usually have Saturn or Mars in a Gauqelin Sector. Don’t believe me? Check out Michael Phelp’s chart http://www.astrotheme.com/astrology/Michael_Phelps or Tiger Woods http://www.astrotheme.com/astrology/Tiger_Woods
Fred Astaire’s spritely Gemini Moon meant he had wit and comedic talent in spades. It was this Moon that helped him with his mimicking ability at a very young age. This Gemini Moon was part of a stellium with Pluto and Neptune conjoining it. This stellium closely aspected his 7th house in Gemini, in the sign of the twins and siblings. He seemed destined to be one half of a couple.
His Geminian Pluto and Moon are aspecting his Ascendant, meaning that Fred evoked Mercurial physical attributes. One thing I have always noticed with folks that have heavy Gemini overtones in their charts aspecting the Ascendant, is that they have this light pixie, waif-like, sprint in their gait. It is almost as though they embody the winged messenger of the gods, Mercury, himself. Their moves are fluid and effortless like they are walking on a cloud. The poster boy for Gemini is definitely Mick Jagger who has a Gemini Ascendant with Mercury making a sextile to it. Only Jagger can inspire envy in younger artists and be immortalize in song for his physical grace. Maroon 5’s ode to the master, Moves like Jagger, is a testament to this. Jagger and Astaire both have Saturn in the first house in a Gauquelin Sector, which means endurance. At the age of 72, Jagger is still touring and dancing through 2 hour concerts. Astaire danced into his eighth decade. Unbelievable but true.
It is easy to see where Astaire’s tenacity and grace came from but where in the chart is the charm that David O Selznick saw? The answer to that is, it came from Fred Astaire’s grand fire trine from his Venus in Aries, his dramatic Mars in Leo making a perfect trine to his expansive Sagittarius Ascendant. Though not a classically handsome man, he was likable and it showed. Having a Leo Mars which is the highest planet on his chart meant he was Mr. Showmanship. He really enjoyed performing for others and being in the spotlight. He wanted to be the centre of attention. I really do believe it was devastating to him to have his spotlight stolen by others.
Virginia Katherine McMath was born July 16th, 1911 at 2:18 a.m. in Independence, Missouri. She was an only child and her parents separated before she was born. Her parents had a turbulent relationship. They divorced when she was young. According to the family legend, her young cousin could not pronounce her name, Virginia and called her Ginga. She would forever be known as Ginger from then on.
Ginger Rogers had the good fortune to be born to an unconventional feminist mother. Her mother, Lela Emogene Owens had aspirations of being a script writer for films. She was a theatre critic for a local newspaper in Fort Worth. Thanks to her mother’s interest in theatre, Ginger found herself exposed to the theatre world in Fort Worth from a young age. It was there she developed her musical and dancing talents. She adopted the last name Rogers from her mother’s second husband, John Logan Rogers.
She married Jack Culpepper at age 17 and the two became part of a traveling vaudeville act called “Ginger and Pepper.” Their marriage fell apart shortly afterwards. However their act, landed Ginger in New York where she also met George and Ira Gershwin. She starred in their musical Top Speed which made her an overnight success. The musical’s choreographer was none other than Fred Astaire.
Ginger had this beautiful watery soft nurturing Cancer Sun conjunct dreamy ethereal Neptune. This conjunction made a lovely trine to her dreamy Pisces Moon. It is no coincidence that she was labelled the glamour and sex appeal of the Rogers and Astaire duo. She radiated that star quality as indicated by Katherine Hepburn.
What in Ginger Roger’s chart pointed to her dance agility and twinkle toes? It should come as no surprise that she had her Ascendant in the sign of Gemini, the sign of lightness and Mercury. Like Jagger, her Mercury in Leo makes a sextile to her Ascendant. The woman was light on her feet. Her athletic endurance came from her Mars in Taurus at 0˚ which is a critical degree and is an exaggerate manifestation of the Taurus qualities such as stamina and perseverance. Like all prominent athletes Mars figures into her chart quite strongly. Fred Astaire once quoted,
“All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn’t do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger. No no, Ginger never cried.”
The Bull does not cry. Nope, she is willing to dance backwards, in heels and not whimper.
In Rogers, Astaire found his match in grace and endurance which was no small feat. I often wonder whether these studio heads employed the services of an astrologer. Clearly, David O Selznick knew that he had a winning team when he paired Rogers and Astaire together. Why were they so compatible as dancers?
I have no idea how David O Selznick could have known this but they have the mirror image of each others Ascendants. Ginger’s Gemini Ascendant falls at 14˚ Gemini and Fred’s Ascendant is at 12˚ Sagittarius. This polarity is usually an indication of attraction.They both embody their ideal in a marriage partner.
Did they have romantic feelings towards each other? Perhaps. Astaire’s Pluto and Moon conjunction hovers over Roger’s Ascendant. She was fascinated by him. Her Mars in Taurus meant, Fred Astaire a Taurus Sun, was the embodiment of the Taurean qualities she admired in men. His Gemini Moon signified that he had an affinity towards Geminian women. Yes, he found her attractive.
Their Suns were sextile to each other. His in Taurus and hers in Cancer conjuncting that elusive Neptune. The inner planet person always looks up to outer planet person. Sun compatibility is a nice thing to have but is not an indicator of romantic attraction. It is more of a friendly collaborative indicator. Sorry Linda Goodman.
Roger’s Saturn sat on Astaire’s Sun which was an indicator of a long-term commitment such as their work partnership. It was the glue that held it together. Here is food for thought, usually the Saturn person is the disciplinarian in the relationship. Was it Ginger who was always pushing for perfection? It would appear that way.
They were 12 years apart so their Jupiters conjuncted each other in the early degrees of Scorpio. This is by no means a romantic aspect but one of friends who shared similar values and good will towards each other. This Jupiter conjuncted Ginger’s south node. Fred was destined to impart his generosity and wisdom on Ginger which in turn benefitted them both. Roger’s Pluto sat on Astaire’s south node. It was her destiny to transform him and make him evolve as a dancer and actor.
Sadly, as the price of producing and filming a musical soared, Hollywood stopped making them. It was not cost-effective. It was “The Depression” and people stopped going to the movies. The demand for the dancing duo dwindled and they went their separate ways. Both found success without each other and as actors. Rogers even won an Academy Award for her movie Kitty Foyle. Yet, in our hearts they will forever be intrinsically linked to each other, like Romeo and Juliet or Tristan and Isolde, until the end of time.