Classic Hollywood #98 – Fred Astaire & Daughter Ava

A Rare Photograph Of Fred Astaire With His Daughter Ava – 1958

Photo UPI 1958 Fred Astiare and daughter Ava

1/5/1958 – HOLLYWOOD – Fred Astaire poses with his daughter Ava, 16, in a rare family portrait taken on the set of the General Electric Theater TV show. This is reportedly the first picture of the entertainer and his daughter to be released in 15 years. Photo- United Press International Telephoto

With the paparazzi of today there are no limits to what constitutes an invasion of privacy. Nobody is off limits – especially the children of the famous. Then there are the celebrities that don’t stop at just cooperating with paparazzi. They shamelessly publicize their children (who have no say in the matter) to promote themselves.

Some old-time celebrities had ethics. They didn’t exploit their families to get publicity. Actor, dancer and singer Fred Astaire (1899-1987) falls into that category.

A Private Man

When he was big star in the 1930s, most people didn’t even realize Fred Astaire was married. If Astaire was wed, “to who?” they asked. Many movie fans naively assumed the actor was married to his frequent co-star Ginger Rogers.

Astaire married Phyllis Potter in 1933, remaining with her until Potter’s death in 1954 at age 46 from cancer, leaving Astaire alone with two children Fred Jr., age 18 and Ava, age 12.

Fred, being a class act, did not release or allow family photos in the press. Astaire was a homebody who shunned the Hollywood nightlife and party scene.

Fred kept his private life on the down low. Few outside of Hollywood knew he was a conservative Republican in liberal tinseltown. Daughter Ava kept away from the celebrity spotlight her entire life. Ava grew up in Beverly Hills and when she married writer Richard McKenzie, the couple moved to Ireland in 1975 to raise their children.

A Perfectionist

Astaire knew he was an excellent dancer but understood he would have to work hard to have a sustained career in Hollywood. He worked long hours at honing his dancing routines and was also a perfectionist in acting. Astaire was always willing to do another take to get it right. In addition, Astaire was also a fairly good singer, but remarkably disliked his own singing voice.

In one of the greatest under-appraisals of all-time the evaluator of Astaire’s first screen test at RKO reported to David O Selznick, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.”

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