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Fred Astaire: His Friends Talk Hardcover – Print, October 4, 1988


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (October 4, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3852471419
  • ISBN-13: 978-3852471419
  • ASIN: 0385247419
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Friends of the late Astaire talk but have little insightful to say in this handsome photo album assembled by Giles, editor-at-large at Vanity Fair . Perhaps the Duke of Devonshire got it right: "He had great charm, but, to be slightly unkind, he wasn't frightfully interesting. But, then, why should he have been?" Born Frederick Austerlitz in Omaha in 1899, the self-effacing Astaire established an unequaled standard of dancingyet few voices here discuss his work with perspicacity. Compared to the generally unenlightening comments from family (daughter Ava: "Daddy always drank Heineken"), the words of Astaire's doctor and housekeeper stand out as the most detailed and intelligent. Conspicuous by their absence are reminiscences by the dancer's sonwho was not approached by Gilesand his second wife, who chose not to cooperate. Despite the disappointing text, the photographs do full justice to a man whose incandescent face rivaled the impeccable optimism of his feet.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Expanding a Vanity Fair article, Giles presents snippets taken from some 75 interviews with Astaire's friends, relatives, colleagues, and admirers, with the intent of providing the reader with a broadened sense of this man who was perfection on screen. The collection of quotes addresses aspects of the public and private man. Those interviewed include some expected namesHermes Pan, Ginger Rogers, Ava Astaire (his daughter), Irving Berlinand some unexpected namesTwiggy, Jerry Hall. Barrie Chase, a favorite partner, and Robyn Smith, Astaire's second wife, are noticeably absent. The quotes are light, chatty, and sometimes informative. They will appeal to gossip column fans. Joan Stahl, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Hi, We're Bill and Sarah Giles and together we have written a series of different book types for the Amazon Kindle. We are proud that they are all based on our own experiences and will give you good down to earth information on the relevant topic.

One of our series of books is aimed at children, another about our travels throughout the world and a third on how to get along in these difficult times, we call them lifestyle books. It is important you understand that the information we impart is what we ourselves have experienced and feel is very relevant to you the reader.

Sarah taught school for over 25 years working with children of all ages and eventually owning her own Kindergarten. Using this experience, Sarah decided to write a series of books for children. We cover myths, legends, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and the Ella and Tom real life child experiences stories. They are all meant to be fun for kids and we hope the unique rhymes make this so. They are in easy to read format so you can read them to your children and then they can read them alone. Some are aimed at pre school children and others for those up to 10.

When our children got a bit bigger we decided to do something more exciting than continuing in our established careers. We wanted to experience more sunshine with an outside orientated lifestyle. This prompted us to start looking at purchasing properties abroad to renovate or reform. This meant we have had many adventures and are still doing so, in foreign countries whilst enjoying and experiencing the different ways of life. Our Adventure Travel stories about Brazil, France, Ireland and Spain come from these hotbeds of life experiences.

On our foreign travels we are especially fond of discovering different food and drinks and trying to learn the language. We also like to explore each country learning more about the people and customs. We find Brazil particularly fascinating, the more so because it does seem to be the country of tomorrow.

Our Travel Guides grew out of this as we ourselves experienced the need for more personalised up to date information based on using the Kindle. Our First Step Guides aim to tell you what you need to know in a concise and clear way with lots of internet reference materials. Our Travel Tips give you fast, immediate access to lots of information which you need to know about your trip.

Our lifestyle series of books have come about through you, our readers contacting us and asking for our advice on various topics... Counting the pennies is a good example of this, as well as how to get children to do better at school.

We hope to write many more books on our current themes and look forward to publishing them for you on Amazon Kindle. We do appreciate your feedback, so just contact us!

Thank you!

Customer Reviews

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This book allows the reader to come to their own opinion by comparing and conntrasting the quotes and commentary.
J. Brown
Then here's Liza Minnelli asking Halston to dress her like "Fred Astaire in the daytime and a movie star at night."
Catherine S. Vodrey
Once you've read the book, you'll want to watch the movies (if you haven't already had that delicious experience).
Laurie Eno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Vodrey on March 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fred Astaire's richly deserved reputation as one of the world's greatest dancer is enhanced with this book, which does a superb job of moving beyond the dance and into his personal life, his professional relationships, his Anglophile tendencies and more. Did you know that the Gershwins and Irving Berlin composed more songs for Fred Astaire than for any other single person? These men latched onto the carefree, wholly American ease projected by Astaire and made him the vehicle for some of their most memorable classics.
The quotations Giles gleans from Astaire friends, colleagues and family do the trick of supplementing the very little we know of this very private man. Ginger Rogers tartly observes, "Well, I think when you work with somebody all day long, for ten movies, you become good friends, though he was as delighted not to see me at night over dinner as I was." Then here's Liza Minnelli asking Halston to dress her like "Fred Astaire in the daytime and a movie star at night." Cary Grant apparently felt that Astaire was the pinnacle of style--after watching "Broadway Melody of 1940," Grant desparately searched everywhere for a white tuxedo identical to the one worn by Astaire in this film. Even his podiatrist is quoted herein, noting wryly that Fred sometimes had trouble with his toes because he wore his shoes a half size too small so as to convey a neater impression.
The photographs, many of which were published here for the first time, include studio glossies of Astaire with his many famous co-stars, Astaire at home with his family and dogs, and a hilarious shot of Astaire skateboarding in the late 1970s. This examination of a one-of-a-kind talent is summed up most perfectly when Rudolf Nureyev says, "We were all dancing. Fred was doing something else entirely." "Fred Astaire: His Friends Talk" is a must for any movie lover or dance lover's library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Eno on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a little treasure trove of anecdotes from people who worked with or were friends of Fred Astaire. While those anecdotes are interesting and often insightful, for my money it's the photos that make this book a real keeper. The effortless grace and style that Astaire showed in moving pictures is captured in still photos. Fred Astaire was a man who, though he was not conventionally handsome, was appealing to millions and used what he had to make magic. He was effortless charm personified: a gentleman, a wit, and a remarkably snappy dresser too! And as we all know, he could dance like nobody's business. Gravity seemed to have little effect on Fred ... no special effects required!

Though he was brilliant at what he did, Astaire was self-effacing and modest almost to a fault, so a book like this is a nice way of learning more about him. Once you've read the book, you'll want to watch the movies (if you haven't already had that delicious experience). Start with Top Hat or Shall We Dance -- classic Fred and Ginger! Fred was also well paired with Rita Hayworth (in "You'll Never Get Rich"), and -- surprisingly -- simply marvelous with a much younger Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face), which has the added attraction of being set (mostly) in Paris.

Those old films are time capsules from an era when graciousness and gentle humor meant something -- and as the epitome of those things, as well as perhaps the most talented hoofer America has ever produced -- Fred Astaire has earned his place as a large and living footnote in American popular culture. This book is part of a well earned homage, and deserves a place on every Astaire fan's bookshelf!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By lbottom1@ua1vm.ua.edu on December 5, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The book deals with the life of one of America's most extraordinary talents as seen by his many acquantances--some famous, some not. Their varied opinions teach us a great deal about Fred Astaire by letting us know how he was viewed by those his life impacted. Giles did a remarkable job putting together a book with as much heart and class as the man himself, Fred Astaire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Bono on August 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I did enjoy the book as one who appreciates the great films of Astaire and Rogers. I wanted to know more about the personal side of Fred.

I find the quotes to be true to the particular viewpoint of the particular friend, colleague, or dance partner. But I must say that the imperfect human filter can sometimes present his or her own biases and values...even occasional distortions...not always representing Astaire's thoughts. It's the quotes themselves which offer the contradictions and clarifications, that balance. The book yields snap shots of his friends therefore, as much as Fred. The strength of the book is its quotable snapshots of the great dancer and creative hub of the dance films...but that's also its weakness.

The issue is proper weighing of the people who actually affected his life most....especially Ginger Rogers. I found the personal snap shots most telling, revealing more of that modest and restrained public personality. This is a plus. But in regard to his professional life, there's more to be desired than what can be delivered under this formula.

Let me illustrate: Here's a quote from the excellent (and sadly out of print), Dick Richards bio, "Ginger", by Fred himself about Rogers: "Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success.". You would never know this from the quotes of some of his friends. There's even less about their special magic of their on screen chemistry....which propelled both of them to super stardom. Two or three friends sadly, even go so far as to belittle her contribution...from a professional perspective and personal as well, and/or from the largely British class perspective.
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