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Steps in Time Paperback – July 25, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Review

[Astaire] likeable personality illuminates an anecdotal, very eventful account. (Booklist)

[Astaire] tells his tale simply and graciously, with many a bow to his partners and associates, in a style as breezy as an Astaire performance. (Library Journal)

The writing, like his dancing is precise and debonair, and his book recalls past gaieties—his own and his audiences'—without a trace of wistfulness. (The New Yorker)

This book is brimming over with fresh and amusing anecdotes about Britain's royal family, international society, as well as many of the great names of the theater and of Hollywood. And, for full measure, he's tossed in more than forty illustrations that make a pictorial history that alone is worth the price of admission. (The New York Times)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press (July 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815410581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815410584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,111,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Crystal Wisdom on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Fred Astaire tells his story in the same way he dances, with integrity and grace. I have been a fan of Mr.Astaire's for many years. The first movie of his I saw was "Daddy Long Legs." I was fasinated with the way he danced. When I found out that he had a biography I snatched a copy up. What I like about this book is that Fred Astaire wrote it himself. I found myself laughing at times, and after reading the book I felt as if I knew him personally. The best thing about this book is that it has 47 black and white photos. This book is a must for true fans of one of the greatest dancers who ever graced the big screen.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of Fred Astaire and this was the first book I was able to read about him. The fact that it is also written by him is a big plus. Fred is a shy and humble man, and his book gives that impression but it is a great account of a man that met everyone, from English and Hollywood royalty to bookmakers and bell hops (in fact, he made a point of knowing bell hops, they knew all the right places to go and the juicy stories). Fred was a private man and he never delves into much detail about his personal feelings. He's quick to acknowledge someone he likes, but you get the feeling that he holds back on people he might not have liked. He never puts down a film partner so if you're looking for an autobio that tells it all, this isn't it. However, Fred's story is still chock full of interesting tales. It doesn't just appeal to Astaire fans, it also appeals to vaudeville, theater, and history fans as Fred was born in 1899 and lived through some amazing times. The Roaring '20s were spent in New York and London (visiting with royalty and the upper class), the '30s in Hollywood where he and Ginger Rogers made people forget the Depression for a while with their movies, and he dedicates a chapter to rehashing his overseas experience in the '40s when he toured on a USO show during WWII. So if you want an easy read of an important movie and dance icon, I highly recommend "Steps In Time". Don't worry about being bored, Fred has a nice sense of humor and there are no lulls in his story. He wrote this book in the late '50s and still had decades of work in front of him, but unfortunately, he never wrote a follow up book chronicling what was still an exciting and glamorous life. Read this book and watch the movies!
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was, quite simply, a dance genius. He appeared on stage, often with his sister Adele, in such landmark musicals as LADY BE GOOD and FUNNY FACE; he graced at least 43 films, 31 one of which were musicals; he is, for all practical intents and purpose, American dance, and he worked with artists no less legendary than he. But for all this, his 1959 autobiography is most notable for being, well, utterly mundane.

STEPS IN TIME is essentially a catalogue of the various shows in which Astaire performed, ranging from Vaudeville (with sister Adele) to SILK STOCKINGS with Cyd Charisse. He always loves his leading lady; he always likes his director; even when the show was not as good as it could have been he finds something nice to say about it; and he never, ever offers the least bit of insight into his private life, his work, or the many with whom he worked over the years. Indeed, Astaire actually has more to say about his love of the racetrack than he does about any of his films or specific dance routines.

Fans of Astaire and the Hollywood musical will certainly want to read STEPS IN TIME, but even the most ardent fan will likely be disappointed by the superficial quality of the work. One can only hope that a future biographer will give Astaire the full portrait that he himself could not.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was less than a year ago that STEPS IN TIME was re-published after a long period of being out-of-print. Nobody should be deterred from reading this autobiography of Fred Astaire, if for no other reason that we get the goods from the star himself, written in good plain prose.

Having said that, there are some drawbacks to this book. (1) It was published in 1960 and was never amended, even though Astaire lived another twenty-seven years; this was just after Astaire had completed the second of two TV specials for NBC, with dancer Barrie Chase. That leaves almost three decades of Astaire's life undocumented, including his playing in movies and on TV in non-musical roles, his continual coming out of retirement, and his surprising marriage in late life to a horse-jockey-turned-pilot (Robin Astaire).

(2) In terms of his basic motivations or what made Fred tick, the reader will come away from this book almost completely baffled. One reason for this is that autobiographies from older stars (and recall that Fred was a vaudeville star of the Twenties) were not written in a confessional mode as they so often are today. As a result, the Fred Astaire who wrote this volume about his life comes very close to the "nice guy" Astaire of his musicals and other entertainments.

(3) For those expecting suspense or drama, a further reason that STEPS IN TIME comes off as bland and uninsightful is that Astaire's life really does seem to be remarkably free of trauma, except for the loss of his sister (and former dance partner) Adele to retirement and the death of his wife Phyllis to cancer in 1954.
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