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The Story of Vernon and Irene... "You could be a perfectly wonderful dancer if you wanted to," Irene tells the... more info $16.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Roberta ... Fun's in fashion when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (plus Irene Dunne and... more info $16.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Carefree ... Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers) realized that her commitment phobia was wearing... more info $16.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Flying Down to Rio ... "We'll show them a thing or three," Honey Hale (Ginger Rogers) says as she and... more info $13.46was $17.99 Buy Now

The Barkleys Of Broadway ... After 10 years apart, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers reteam in their final film... more info $14.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Stage Door ... Ginger Rogers and Ann Miller tap in time and rat-a-tat lines. Lucille Ball... more info $14.36was $17.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Virginia Katherine Mcmath Died: April 25, 1995
Born: July 16, 1911 Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: Independence, Missouri, USA Profession: dancer, actor, comedian, singer, fashion consultant for J.C. Penney in 1960s and 70s


As the saying went about Ginger Rogers, she could do everything that her famous dance partner, Fred Astaire, could do, but she did it backwards and in high heels. That declaration neatly summed up the career of the Oscar-winning actress, which was marked by her seemingly limitless talents, which included starring in 10 sparkling screen musicals with Astaire, as well as subtle comedies like Stage Door" (1937) and "The Major and the Minor" (1942), as well as heartfelt dramas like "Kitty Foyle" (1940). Rogers had achieved stardom on Broadway before she was 20, and began making feature films shortly thereafter, but it was her collaborations with Astaire that elevated her from movie star to screen icon. Their dance routines were the epitome of class and grace, as well as possessing a chaste sexiness that transcended the censorial limitations of the period. Astaire himself would credit her as one of his best screen partners, but their films together were just the start of her long and storied career. A decade's worth of solo features followed her musical heyday, culminating with her Oscar triumph as a headstrong girl determined to find happiness in "Kitty Foyle." Though her movie career declined in the...

As the saying went about Ginger Rogers, she could do everything that her famous dance partner, Fred Astaire, could do, but she did it backwards and in high heels. That declaration neatly summed up the career of the Oscar-winning actress, which was marked by her seemingly limitless talents, which included starring in 10 sparkling screen musicals with Astaire, as well as subtle comedies like Stage Door" (1937) and "The Major and the Minor" (1942), as well as heartfelt dramas like "Kitty Foyle" (1940). Rogers had achieved stardom on Broadway before she was 20, and began making feature films shortly thereafter, but it was her collaborations with Astaire that elevated her from movie star to screen icon. Their dance routines were the epitome of class and grace, as well as possessing a chaste sexiness that transcended the censorial limitations of the period. Astaire himself would credit her as one of his best screen partners, but their films together were just the start of her long and storied career. A decade's worth of solo features followed her musical heyday, culminating with her Oscar triumph as a headstrong girl determined to find happiness in "Kitty Foyle." Though her movie career declined in the early 1950s, Rogers remained a star on Broadway and nightclubs for another two decades, as well as a welcome figure on television, where she regaled audiences with stories of her past work. Rogers' star never truly dimmed, both in her lifetime and after it, and her screen presence, whether in the arms of Astaire or on her own, remained one of Hollywood's greatest treasures. She was born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911 in Independence, MO, the only child of electrical engineer William Eddins McMath and his wife Lela Emogene Owens, a screenwriter and reporter. From an early age, she was referred to as "Ginja," which came from a young cousin who was unable to pronounce "Virginia." Rogers' parents split shortly after she was born, which resulted in an acrimonious custody battle. During this time, Lela Owens was working in Hollywood, so Rogers spent part of her childhood at her grandparents' home in Kansas City. Later, her mother married John Logan Rogers and moved with her daughter to Fort Worth, TX to work as a theater critic. Although never formally adopted by Rogers, Ginger took his surname as her own. The bubbly child was interested in dance from an early age, performing frequently at local charity shows and school productions, but her passion truly blossomed when her mother brought her along to various stage productions. There, Rogers reportedly danced and sang along with the performers. At 14, she won the Texas State Charleston Competition, which earned her a four-week tour of Texas cities on the Interstate Theatre Circuit. With two redheaded Charleston dancers as her accompaniment, the act, billed as "Ginger and the Redheads," drew such crowds at each stop that the tour was extended to a six-month jaunt through the Western states. Rogers briefly developed a vaudeville act with her first husband, Jack Culpepper, who performed a singing and comedy act under the name of Jack Pepper. Their partnership, billed as "Ginger and Pepper," had an even shorter lifespan than their marriage, which lasted from 1929 until they parted amicably in 1931. Rogers soon established herself as a solo act with lengthy runs in Chicago and St. Louis. Rogers also sang with Chicago bandleader Paul Ash's orchestra, and traveled with them to New York City to perform at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway in 1929. There, she landed her first stage role as the ingÈnue in the musical "Top Speed," which earned her critical raves as well as the attention of Paramount Pictures, which signed her to a seven-year contract. In 1930, the 19-year-old Rogers made her feature film debut as a saucy flapper in "Young Man of Manhattan," a breezy show business comedy starring Claudette Colbert and Charles Ruggles. As Puff Randolph, Rogers uttered the immortal line "Cigarette me, big boy," which soon became a national catch phrase. That same year, Rogers earned her first starring role on Broadway in "Girl Crazy." Top billed with another up-and-coming actress-singer, Ethel Merman, the show made Rogers a star, and minted two of her numbers, "Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me", as instant classics. At the end of her Broadway run, she dove into motion pictures, making four pictures in 1930 alone. None were particularly memorable, with Rogers usually playing dizzy blondes, and she soon freed herself of her Paramount contract before lighting out for Hollywood with her mother. Once there, she worked for a variety of studios in unremarkable pictures until 1933's "42nd Street" for Warner Bros. Cast as chorus girl Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell, she established her screen persona as a brassy, worldly-wise girl who dove into songs and dance numbers with boundless enthusiasm. In 1933, she starred in "Gold Diggers of 1933," an opulent musical with choreography by Busby Berkeley, who showcased her in a jaw-dropping rendition of "We're In the Money," which featured the barely clad showgirl dancing before colossal coins while Rogers delivered part of the number in pig Latin. Rogers was also adept at light comedy, as evidenced by her fast-talking turn as a reporter opposite her second husband, actor Lew Ayres, in "A Shriek in the Night" (1933). But musicals remained her most prominent showcase during this period, and in 1934, she signed with RKO to make "Flying Down to Rio," a romantic comedy with Gene Raymond as a bandleader who falls for a flirtatious Brazilian girl (Dolores Del Rio) while performing in Miami. Billed fourth and fifth in the credits were Rogers as Honey Hale, the band's singer, and Fred Astaire as Fred Ayres, Raymond's assistant. Their first dance together was "Carioca," a ballroom number in which they perform with their foreheads touching. The chemistry between the pair was immediately palpable to viewers, many of whom felt that they stole the picture away from the leads. Astaire and Rogers were soon minted as a screen dance team, and earned their first starring roles in "The Gay Divorcee" (1934), which featured a 20-minute routine to "The Continental" at its conclusion. Astaire was a notorious perfectionist who often drove stage and screen partners to distraction with his endless rehearsals. But Rogers proved to be not only his most enduring co-star, but also his most durable. She had never performed with a dance partner prior to "Flying Down to Rio," and though an accomplished dancer, lacked certain skills like tap, that would be essential elements of their subsequent collaborations. But she did possess two attributes that helped her overcome these obstacles: she was doggedly determined to succeed, a gift from her ambitious mother that helped her to master difficult steps and routines. And she was a talented actress who was able to convey romance, grace and poise through physical presence and facial expression. The end result was a combination of movement and performance that elevated Rogers and Astaire's 33 paired routines to the vanguard of style in Hollywood dance and provide the ultimate escapism for audiences suffering through the Great Depression. Keeping RKO studios afloat throughout the 1930s, Astaire and Rogers made 10 films together, beginning with 1933's "Flying Down to Rio" and concluding 16 years later with "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), in which Rogers stepped in for an ailing Judy Garland. Critics and fans found their respective favorites among the pictures, though the most financially successful was unquestionably "Top Hat" (1935), a lively screwball comedy with Astaire as an American tap dancer who attempts to woo a reluctant Rogers. The film featured one of their most memorable numbers, "Cheek to Cheek," in which Astaire wins over the headstrong Rogers through a complex, dreamlike routine that suggested verbal sparring before she succumbed to his charm with her signature deep backbend. The couple would enjoy similar moments of brilliance in subsequent films, like the syncopated "Waltz in Swing Time" from "Swing Time" (1936) which simultaneously expanded the boundaries of screen elegance while poking gentle fun at it, and a lovely foxtrot to "They Can‚øøt Take That Away from Me" in "Shall We Dance" (1937), among many other scenes indelibly etched in the minds of musical fans around the world. Despite the acclaim Rogers enjoyed from these films, she was treated as one of the supporting cast by RKO, and in fact, was paid less than many of them. Her mother, Lela Rogers, proved to be her ace in the hole in terms of fostering both financial and artistic respect from the studio. Rogers had been a tough but caring stage mother since her daughter's debut in the 1920s, and personally oversaw the shooting of many of her films to make sure her daughter was regarded as a star. "Shall We Dance" marked the apex of the Astaire-Rogers collaborations, as well as the final days of the Depression Era musical. Skyrocketing production costs in the face of a national debt made studio chiefs turn to dramas and comedies for their box office take, and the pair would make just two more films, 1938's "Carefree" and "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939). The latter, a biopic of the popular World War I dance team, was considered a failure because of its downbeat ending in which Astaire, as Vernon Castle, dies during military service, but in truth, it was the genre that had collapsed, not the duo's screen popularity. During this period, Rogers had worked tirelessly to maintain her identity as a performer outside of her partnership with Astaire through brassy comedies and emotional dramas. Her naturally brassy persona shone through in the former in pictures like the Broadway showgirls slice-of-life "Stage Door" (1937) and "Roxie Hart" (1942), a highly sanitized biopic of the showgirl whose scandalous murder case was also the subject of the musical "Chicago." But she also excelled at "women's pictures" like "I'll Be Seeing You" (1944), a handkerchief-heavy romance between a shell-shocked soldier (Joseph Cotton) and a convict (Rogers) on furlough. Rogers' solo career hit its high point with 1940's "Kitty Foyle," a sudsy drama penned by Dalton Trumbo about a working-class girl who falls in love with a wealthy but spineless publisher (Dennis Morgan). She earned the Best Actress Oscar for her performance, and for a time, she was the highest paid and most in-demand actress in Hollywood. Having severed ties with RKO, she moved freely among the studios, cherry-picking quality projects like Billy Wilder's comedy "The Major and the Minor" (1942), with Rogers masquerading as a 12-year-old girl in order to avoid paying a full train fare, and "Lady in the Dark" (1944), an adaptation of the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin musical about a woman publisher (Rogers) undergoing psychoanalysis. Rogers was even the hero of Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak, a girls' adventure novel in the vein of the "Nancy Drew" series penned by her mother. The success of her films and other projects allowed her to purchase a 1,000-acre ranch in Southern Oregon, where she lived with her mother and built a dairy complex that supplied milk to Camp White, a nearby military cantonment, throughout World War II. In 1969, she sold her home in Beverly Hills to live in Oregon permanently until 1990. Rogers married her third husband, Marine Jack Briggs in 1943, but the marriage ended in 1949, which also marked the decline of her status as a leading lady. Her films had drifted into weak melodrama territory, and with the exception of "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), a charming musical which reunited her with Astaire, and "Monkey Business" (1952), a cute screwball comedy by Howard Hawks that co-starred Cary Grant and a little-known Marilyn Monroe, her output saw few successes. She co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "The First Traveling Saleslady" (1956), one of the last productions by her old employer, RKO Pictures, and flitted between features and television until 1965, when she made her final film appearance as Jean Harlow's mother in the wan biopic "Harlow." Rogers maintained a reduced profile in the 1950s and early 1960s; she had married actor Jacques Bergerac, a Frenchman 16 years her junior, in 1953, but the union only lasted four years. In 1961, she married bandleader-turned-actor William Marshall, who produced one of her final movies, a lackluster adventure called "The Confession" (1964) with Ray Milland. Marshall's issues with alcohol forced a separation, but the couple did not formally divorce until 1969. Rogers bounced back the following year in the Broadway production of "Hello, Dolly!" The musical, which had starred Carol Channing, had been performing poorly at the box office, but ticket sales soared when she took over as Dolly Levi for an 18-month run. Four years later, she scored a second stage success with "Mame" in London, which ran for 14 months and included a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II. Despite the end of her screen career, Rogers' popularity never diminished with moviegoers, who eagerly followed her numerous appearances on talk and variety shows throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She also remained on friendly terms with Astaire, whom she presented a special Academy Award in 1950; when the duo broke out into an improvised dance during an appearance at the 1967 awards, they received a standing ovation from the audience. Rogers kept herself in the public eye as a spokesperson for JC Penney, and even designed a line of lingerie for them. She later launched a successful nightclub tour that took her around the world. Rogers also expressed an interest in women's rights, as noted by a speech at the Congressional Women's Luncheon in 1973, which was later read into the Congressional Record. In 1986, Rogers fulfilled a lifelong ambition to direct when she oversaw an off-Broadway production of "Babes in Arms" in Tarrytown, New York. She made her final screen appearance in a 1987 episode of "Hotel" (ABC, 1983-88) before publishing her autobiography, Ginger: My Story, in 1991. Rogers then settled into a series of well-deserved accolades from her peers. Chief among these was the Kennedy Center Honors, which paid tribute to her in 1992. The event was somewhat overshadowed by Astaire's widow, Robyn Smith, who refused to allow film clips of her husband with Rogers to be shown during the subsequent CBS broadcast. Rogers' final public appearance came in March of 1995, when she received the Women's International Center Living Legend award. A month later, on April 25, 1995, Rogers died of congestive heart failure at the age of 83 while at her winter home in Rancho Mirage, CA. She was interred at the Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, CA in a plot next to her mother, and only a short distance away from the grave of Fred Astaire.


Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

 Harlow (1965) Mama Jean
 Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1957) Mildred Turner
 The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) Rose Gillray
 Teenage Rebel (1956) Nancy Fallon
 Tight Spot (1955) Sherry Conley
 Black Widow (1954) Carlotta Marin
 Twist of Fate (1954) [Joan] Johnny Victor
 Forever Female (1954) Beatrice Page
 Monkey Business (1952) Edwina Fulton

Milestones close milestones

Subject of a custody battle between parents when they separated; at one point the infant Rogers was kidnapped by her father
Offered a part in a Fox film while mother was working as a scriptwriter; mother refused to let her work after the first day
Moved with family to Forth Worth, Texas while in high school; took part in school dramatics and took dancing lessons
Briefly worked as substitute dancer for Eddie Foy in vaudeville
Began working regularly on the vaudeville circuit: billed as "Ginger and Her Redheads", toured Oklahoma and Texas with two other dancers, after winning a statewide Charleston contest in Texas; the two "redheads" who performed with her had finished second and third in the contest and were engaged by Rogers' mother; later did a solo act
Vaudeville act expanded to include other dances such as the Spanish-flavored Valencia; also did comedy patter routines involving baby talk and comic wordplay
Worked as band singer with Paul Ash's orchestra in New York (date approximate)
Success on Broadway in supporting role in musical "Top Speed" (singing "Hot and Bothered") led to screen test at Parmount's Astoria, Long Island Studio; signed by Paramount
Appeared in a number of short subjects including "A Night in a Dormitory" (1929) and "Office Blues" (1930)
Made feature film debut at Paramount's studios in Astoria, Queens, as a Jazz Age flapper in "Young Man of Manhattan", in which she uttered a line which enjoyed a nationwide popularity, "Cigarette me, big boy!"
Played female lead in her first feature musical film, "Queen High"
Returned to Broadway as female lead (at age 19) of George and Ira Gershwin's successful "Girl Crazy", earning $1,000 per week; introduced the song standards "Embraceable You" and "But Not for Me"; first met Fred Astaire (whom she dated briefly), who helped stage one of her dance numbers
Moved out to Hollywood; first West Coast-produced feature, "The Tip Off"; made several films for RKO-Pathe
Composed song, "The Gal Who Used to Be You" which she sang in a short film, "Hollywood on Parade #1"
Named one of the WAMPAS "Baby Stars" of 1932
First top-billed role in "The Thirteenth Guest"
Left Paramount; made a number of films for Warner Brothers
Famous career moment: performing cheerful Depression-era anthem, "We're in the Money", in pig Latin in "Golddiggers of 1933"
Signed with RKO
Played early showcase part in RKO's "Professional Sweetheart"; one of her earliest films which was built up as a "vehicle" for her talents
First film with Fred Astaire, "Flying Down to Rio", in which they played supporting roles
First co-starring vehicle with Astaire, "The Gay Divorcee"
Enjoyed earliest solo starring successes in such films as "Romance in Manhattan" and "In Person"
Rogers and Astaire appeared together on motion picture exhibitors annual poll of top ten box office stars three years in a row, placing 4th, 3rd and 7th
Radio debut in "The Curtain Rises" with Warren William on "Lux Radio Theater"
Enjoyed notable success without Astaire in "Stage Door"
First of four appearances on the cover of "Life" magazine
Last RKO musical with Fred Astaire, "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle"
Invited to place her hand and footprints and her signature in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater
Was in unique position of being RKO's only top boxoffice star under long-term contract; first major solo hit after the series co-starring Astaire, "Bachelor Mother", RKO's biggest hit of 1939
Opted not to renew her exclusive contract with RKO and began free-lancing; signed nonexclusive pact with the studio
Starred in first film in color, Paramount's "Lady in the Dark"; film also featured the famous mink and sequins gown which cost over $30,000 at the time and was later donated to and kept on display at the Smithsonian Institute; Rogers' entire wardrobe for the film cost $150,000-200,000
Highest-paid woman in the US, earning over $250,000; was also America's 8th highest paid person overall that year
Starred in rare historical drama, "Magnificent Doll", in which she played First Lady Dolley Madison
First film made through nonexclusive RKO deal in three years, "Heartbeat", was also her last for the studio for a decade
Mother Lela Rogers testified as a "friendly witness" before the infamous HUAC "witch hunt" anti-leftist trials which resulted in the Hollywood blacklists of the late 1940s and early 50s
Displeased with the scripts RKO sent her, Rogers and studio ended her nonexclusive contract by mutual consent
Reunited with Fred Astaire when called on to replace an ailing Judy Garland in "The Barkleys of Broadway"
Presented Fred Astaire with a special Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony for 1949 films
Returned to Broadway to star in a dual role Louis Verneuil's unsuccessful comedy, "Live and Let Love"; for one part she was billed as "Ginger Rogers" and for the other she was credited under her birth name "Virginia McMath"; show closed after 51 performances, though Rogers received good reviews
Made last of four appearances on the cover of "Life" magazine, in connection with her return to Broadway after 20 years
Travelled abroad extensively for the first time
Made TV debut in "Tonight at 8:30", a version of three short plays by Noel Coward
Starred in first film not made in the United States, the British-produced "Beautiful Stranger" (U.S. Release title, "Twist of Fate")
Starred in last feature film for seven years, "Oh Men! Oh Women!"
Starred in TV variety special, "The Ginger Rogers Show"
Made Las Vegas performing debut at the Riviera Hotel
Starred in a live British TV adaptation of the musical, "Carissima"; oddly enough, the role as staged gave her the opportunities to neither sing nor dance
Starred in tour of a bound-for-Broadway musical comedy, "The Pink Jungle", opposite Agnes Moorehead; play performed in several cities, but show had various problems with script, cast and production and the show never made it to Broadway
Appeared in touring stage shows, regional and summer stock performances of such musicals as "Annie, Get Your Gun", "Tovarich" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"
Made a pilot for a TV comedy series, "The Ginger Rogers Show", in which she played twin sisters Elisabeth and Margaret Harcourt; option on possible series not picked up
Played the Queen on a TV version of Rodgers's and Hammerstein's musical version of "Cinderella", with Leslie Ann Warren in the title role
Rogers and husband G. William Marshall set up production deal to make their own films, shooting in Jamaica; encountered production, budgeting and bureaucratic problems on the one film they made, "The Confession", starring Rogers; resulting film turned out poorly and was only distributed in 1971 in select areas under titles include "Quick, Let's Get Married" and "Seven Different Ways"
Final dramatic film role, played Jean Harlow's mother in the biopic, "Harlow"
Replaced Carol Channing (who opened the musical) in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway; was critically acclaimed in the role and enjoyed great boxoffice success; performed in the show for a year and a half until February 1967, then toured nationally with the show for another year and a half; performed the role 1,116 times
Reunited with Fred Astaire on Academy Awards broadcast, when they presented the writing awards; did a 30-second impromptu dance bit together while en route to the podium which received a huge audience response and caused considerable media hubbub
Made London stage debut; was the highest-paid performer ever to appear on London stage up until that time (earning 5000 pounds--at the time the rough equivalent of $12,000--per week for a 56-week run), in the musical "Mame"
Toured US in the musical, "Coco"; attracted media attention when she refused to utter one four-letter word in the script
Signed a seven-year deal to act as traveling fashion consultant for J.C. Penney Stores
Starred onstage in the spring in Chicago in romantic comedy, "Forty Carats", then toured with show during the summer
Appeared in successful international touring nightclub and stage retrospective of her career, "The Ginger Rogers Show" (taped for Italian TV; also did a song and dance number to "The Carioca" on American TV program, "The People's Command Performance"); later did versions of her nightclub act internationally into the 1980s
Recorded an album of songs in England for EMI called "Miss Ginger Rogers"
Performed a capsule version of her touring show at Radio City Music Hall
Starred in a summer production of "Anything Goes" opposite Sid Caesar
Guest starred occasionally on TV on shows such as "The Love Boat" (in an episode reuniting her with former co-star Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.)
Career feted on the syndicated documentary TV special, "Legends of the Screen"
Made directorial debut staging a revival of the musical comedy play, "Babes in Arms"
Appeared in the "Hail and Farewell" episode of the ABC series "Hotel"
Unsuccessfully sued the Italian producers of Fellini's film "Ginger and Fred" for invasion of privacy
Made television appearance as guest interviewee along with June Allyson, Jane Powell, and Esther Williams on "Burt Reynolds Conversations With..."
Last public appearances included those at a photo session for a <i>Vanity Fair</i> magazine issue dedicated to Hollywood and at a Screen Actors Guild tribute (Rogers was one of the original 100 members of the actors union when it was founded in the early 1930s)


"You bring out a lot of your own thoughts and ideals when acting ... You know, there's nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women. There are lots of strong women who are ... helping ... mothering strong men; they want to remain unseen. It's kind of nice to be able to play a strong woman who is seen." --Ginger Rogers

"She gives him sex, and he gives her class." --Katharine Hepburn's explanation of the onscreen chemistry between Rogers and Astaire, offered at a time when the team was at a popular and critical peak and Hepburn's popularity was ebbing

"When you have a dancing partner, there's always going to be a time that the girl is gonna cry. With almost every girl I danced with, I'd get, 'Waaahh ... I can't do it.' 'Oh, you can, shut up, get on, do it.' Ginger didn't do that." --Fred Astaire

"The hardest-working gal I ever knew." --Fred Astaire

"In more than 60 films, she was our picture of the American girl." --from the Kennedy Center Honors Salute of 1992 (it should be noted that Rogers made more than 70 films, not counting film shorts)

She also received a honorary doctorate of fine arts from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 1972.

Companions close complete companion listing

Edward Jackson Culpepper. Vaudevillian. Married in 1928; separated in 1929; divorced in 1931; performed with wife in duo act, "Ginger and Pepper".
Fred Astaire. Dancer. Met in 1930 when he did uncredited dance direction on "Girl Crazy"; dated briefly.
Lew Ayres. Actor. Second husband; married 1934-41; couple acted together in "Don't Bet on Love" (1933); separated in the late 1930s; Ayres also starred in such films as "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930), "Holiday" (1938), "Johnny Belinda" (1948) and a series of Dr. Kildare films for MGM; career harmed during WWII when he declared himself a conscientious objector; still served in a non-combative role; later an author on the subject of comparative theology; died on December 30, 1996.
Howard Hughes. Industrialist, aviator, film producer. Involved with Rogers during late 1930s; she reportedly broke off their engagement when she discovered he was being unfaithful.
George Stevens. Director. Involved with Rogers in an on again/off again affair when she was separated from Lew Ayres in the late 1930s; directed Rogers in "Swing Time" (1936) and "Vivacious Lady" (1938).
Jack Briggs. Married in 1943, divorced 1949; he was a 22-year-old Marine whom she met while touring with the USO during WWII; had previously played small roles in several Hollywood films; purchased a ranch together in Oregon.
Cary Grant. Actor. Co-starred with Rogers in "Once Upon a Honeymoon" (1942) and "Monkey Business" (1952); had a romantic relationship in the 1940s, briefly reprised in the 50s.
Greg Bautzer. Lawyer. Prominent Hollywood attorney; close friend to many top film stars; dated and was involved with Rogers for a time c. late 1940s/early 50s.
Jacques Bergerac. Actor, former attorney. Fourth husband; married 1953, divorced 1958; he was 25, she was 42 at time of marriage; co-starred in British-made "Twist of Fate/Beautiful Stranger" (1954).
William Marshall. Actor, director, producer. Fifth husband; married in 1961; divorced in 1971; appeared together in stage tour of "Bell, Book and Candle" (1958); started a film production company together in Jamaica in 1963, which resulted in the film "The Confession/Quick, Let's Get Married" (1964).

Family close complete family listing

William Eddins McMath. Electrical engineer. Separated from Lela McMath when Rogers was a small child.
Lela Rogers. Screenwriter, drama critic, agent. Acted as Ginger's manager; married second husband John Rogers while working as a newspaper reporter in Kansas City (divorced 1929); worked for a time at RKO teaching and promoting new talent; wrote a series of fiction books centered around daughter's character for Whitman publishers in the 1940s; "friendly witness" during the HUAC trials of the 1940s and 50s; made brief appearance as mother of Rogers's character in "The Major and the Minor" (1942); died in 1977.
John Rogers. Insurance salesman. Adopted Ginger Rogers after her father's death; divorced from Lela McMath in 1929.
Rita Hayworth. Actor, dancer. Popular film star of the 1940s and 50s; one of WWII's most famous pin-ups; began career in dancing act with her father; films include "Blood and Sand" (1941), "Gilda" (1946), "Miss Sadie Thompson" (1953) and "Pal Joey" (1957); starred in a segment of the anthology film "Tales of Manhattan" (1942), but a different one than the one which highlighted Rogers; not all sources confirm that Rogers and Hayworth were cousins.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Ginger Rogers" Pyramid Books
"The Films of Ginger Rogers" Citadel Press
"The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book"
"Astaire Dancing"
"Ginger: My Story" HarperCollins
"Ginger Rogers: A Bio-Bibliography" Greenwood Press
"Shall We Dance: The Life of Ginger Rogers"


Rachael Griffin ( 2006-02-28 )

Source: first two paragraphs of the biography.

Virginia Katherine McMath was born on July 16, 1911 in Independence, Missouri. Her nickname, "Ginger," originated from her younger cousin Helen who pronounced "Virginia" as "Ginja." Family and friends continued to call her this, and later theatre men who understood the name to be "Ginger" billed her as such on their marquees. Those who knew her as a little girl often said that Ginger could dance before she could walk. At the age of 10, she was appearing at local charity shows, celebrations and lodge meetings with her stepfather, "Daddy John," whose last name, Rogers, she eventually borrowed.

Swimgirl_28 ( 2008-08-13 )

Source: not available

Another of Ginger Rogers' notable companians was George Gerwshwin.

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