Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Today, when people are going wild about “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” I am always taken back to one image in my mind. That image is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding around the floor in effortless dream choreography. Now, that’s dancing. None of this pretentious, hokey and stiff stuff they call ballroom these days.

Ginger was the perfect partner for Fred. Dan Siretta, Broadway choreographer always said to me, “Fred gave her style, and Ginger gave him sex appeal.” Well, what Ginger really gave was pure pleasure all the time whether dancing or acting or just being herself.

My friend Tom Edwards produced and wrote many of those bios/interviews you see on TCM these days. He did one of Ginger. Well, he almost did one of Ginger. Tom tells the story that the stars were always given questions in advance and in the case of Ginger, Tom and his assistant had to go to her home in Palm Springs and coach her and give her confidence that her fans still wanted to see her. Imagine that!

So Tom went to Palm Springs and spent the day with Ginger and her female assistant who was also her nurse. Ginger couldn’t walk any more and was confined to a wheel chair. But she was still vivacious and charming and vulnerable and needed assurance. Tom was able to supply that and when he left her home he told her that the hair and make-up people (of her choosing) would be at her home early the next morning to prepare her for the shoot. And they said goodbye.

The next morning as Tom was getting ready to drive back to Palm Springs a call came telling him that Ginger had died during the night. Shocked and saddened, but still determined, Tom drove to Ginger’s home nevertheless.

When Tom arrived, he rang the doorbell and the nurse/assistant finally came to the door. But the chain latch was in place and she refused to take it off fearing lawyers or paparazzi would invade Ginger’s home and do damage to her image. Tom assured her that he only came to pay his respects.

Through the small opening in the door and beyond the chain latch Tom could see Ginger’s empty wheelchair and, in place of where Ginger had sat just a few hours before was one beautiful red rose.

Happy Birthday, Ginger. You will always live on the screen and in our hearts.

C. Richard C. Wall, 2008

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