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Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers (born Virginia Katherine McMath) was an American actress, dancer and singer with a career that spanned six decades. She is best remembered for her work in many RKO's musical films during the "Golden Age of Hollywood", often paired with Fred Astaire. Rogers won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title role in the 1940 drama film, Kitty Foyle. Her career continued successfully on stage, television and radio throughout much of the 20th century. Born in Independence, Missouri, and raised in Kansas City, Rogers and her family moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 1920. She won a Charleston dance contest in 1925, which launched a successful career in vaudeville. Rogers gained recognition as an actress after her stage debut in the 1930 Broadway production of Girl Crazy. The production's success led her to a motion picture contract with Paramount, which ended after five films. She then worked for several major studios, most notably for Warner Bros. in the pre-Code musicals, 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, both released in 1933. Rogers signed with RKO that same year, where she was partnered with Astaire on-screen for the first time in Flying Down to Rio (1933). Rogers' musicals with Astaire are credited with revolutionizing the genre and gave RKO some of its biggest successes, including The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936) and Shall We Dance (1937), but after two commercial failures with Astaire, she mainly focused to dramatic and comedic roles. Her performances, mainly from Stage Door (1937), Vivacious Lady (1938), Bachelor Mother (1939), The Major and the Minor (1942) and I'll Be Seeing You (1944), were well received by film critics and audiences. After winning the Academy Award in 1941, Rogers became one of the biggest box-office draws and highest-paid actresses of the decade.Her popularity peaked by the end of the 1940s. Rogers reunited with Astaire for the last time in the 1949 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Technicolor musical, The Barkleys of Broadway, and then starred in the 1952 screwball comedy, Monkey Business. She was critically acclaimed for her performance in the 1955 noir crime, Tight Spot, before entering an unsuccessful period. Rogers returned to Broadway in 1965, playing Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! More theater roles followed, along with her stage directorial debut in 1985 of an off-Broadway production of Babes in Arms. She continued her career by making guest appearances in television shows until 1987, and wrote an autobiography titled Ginger: My Story, which was published in 1991. Rogers was married five times to five men, with all marriages ending in divorce, and never had children. She and her mother Lela had a very close professional relationship. Lela was credited with pivotal contributions to Rogers' early successes in Broadway and Hollywood, and gave her much assistance in contract negotiations with film studios. During her 62-year career, Rogers made 73 films, and in 1999, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked her No. 14th on their list ranking the top 25 female greatest screen legends of American cinema history. She was honored by the Kennedy Center Honors in 1992, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rogers died of natural causes at her Rancho Mirage home in 1995.
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