They had been dancing for years. It was all they knew, and for good reason – they were the best. In our oversaturated line of work, there are a million and one hopefuls born every year, waiting to belong to the talent that will make them a star. But Roger and Astaire, the dynamic duo who revolutionized dance and film, have had a lifetime for the ages. It is now, that their fate is in flux, that we look back on their lives.
I wanna dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody.
Born in 1933, they knew they were destined for stardom. Big dreams of dance and Broadway lights and red carpets of film danced in their minds. And there was no better person to take them there then the pioneer of musical film herself, Ginger Rogers. They waited patiently, in a small shop off Rodeo Drive, with the prime realty of shelving; eye level, encased in glass in the window on the left. Ginger, a regular to the shop, came in on a sunny Sunday afternoon to pick up a new pair, the pair that would launch her into cinematic stardom.
“I’m starring in a new film!” Ginger exclaimed to the salesgirl, “It’s called Flying down to Rio, and with Fred Astaire no less!” This was the first of ten films that the dancing duo would make together.
“These will do you very nicely” suggested the salesgirl, pulling our hero and heroin from the shelf.
I’ve been in love and lost my senses, spinning through the town.
Though Ginger would use many pairs of shoes over the years, Roger and Astair always held a place of honour. Long days on set and years of feverish dancing would wear them down, but Ginger never forgot about their loyalty and treated them well after they had finished their service. Roger and Astair traded wooden ballroom floors and well trodden red carpets for a plush and loved spot in Ginger’s shoe closet. Living was easy, life had been good.
Flash forward 60 years after their birth, and a new star, Whitney Houston, was dominating the scene. Another triple threat, Whitney sung, danced, and acted her way to stardom. Her path, however, had included many bumps and brushes with tragedy. It was at the 10th Annual American Cinema Awards, where Rogers and Astaire’s loving matron was honoured, that Whitney requested a pair of her shoes.
Sooner or later the fever ends, and I wind up feeling down.
Ginger, being a generous soul, gave up her shoes to an equally loving home. Each signed with a note from Ginger to Whitney “to one of the greatest signers of all time, from your friend Ginger Rogers”, Rogers and Astaire arrived at the home of Whitney Houston, where they were encased in plexi glass and put on display.
A less comfortable home than their plush space at Ginger’s, Rogers and Astaire were still please with their new placement. Prominently on display, they were once again in the spotlight. While their final years with Ginger had been lovely, they had missed the spotlighted presence and adoration that show business had afforded them. Whitney’s antics, though sometimes frightening to Rogers and Astaire, kept her home busy and them in the limelight. Each time she left the house, however, they worried about her safety, holding their breath until she walked through the front door once more.
And when the night falls, the loneliness calls.
The evening of February 11, 2012, was a lonely one for Rogers and Astaire. Whitney and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, had left for Los Angeles to attend the Grammy Awards. Roger and Astaire bonded over the loneliness, taking trips down memory lane, and discussing how anxiously they awaited the return of their friend. But she was never to return. With large amounts of cocaine and prescription drugs in her system, Whitney died by accidental drowning in her Beverley Hilton hotel room.
Whitney’s home became a beehive once more, but Rogers and Astaire, cloaked in misery, were ignored. Once beloved and dotted on, they had now become simply a piece in a long, itemized list of Whitney’s estate, catalogued mercilessly by her Men in Suits who did not understand their artistic integrity.
As of now, we can report that they will be handed over to her daughter, Bobbi Kristina. Our news network however, along with all others, awaits anxiously the news of what will happen to Rogers and Astaire. Whether she will cherish them as her mother did, or sell them off, is unknown. For the first time in their almost 80 year history, they are orphans.
And when the night falls, my lonely hearts calls.
Is this the end of an era for the dancing pair? Their lives are at a crossroads, no longer able to dance, they are far from the spry pair that Ginger picked up those many years ago. Their bright, polished cream coat has faded, their touch wooden heels worn down at the far edges, the padding of their toes worn away to nothing… They wait patiently, in the prime realty of shelving; eye level, encased in glass.
Don’t you wanna dance? Say you wanna dance.