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'Best Partner' to Rogers; the 'Purest Talent' to Berlin

June 23, 1987

Reaction to the death of Fred Astaire on Monday came from such disparate places as the White House to the New York apartment of Irving Berlin to Ginger Rogers' home in a small Oregon community:

Rogers on her 10 films with Astaire:

"It was all with beautiful music from wonderful composers and wonderful lyricists," she said from her home in Shady Cove. "I just adored and admired Fred with all my heart. He was the best partner anyone could ever have."

Gene Kelly, Hollywood's other great dancing leading man, once said he and Astaire were a "fraternity of two," adding that their styles were as different as those of Marlon Brando and Cary Grant.

"My style is strong, wide open, bravura," Kelly said. "His is intimate, cool, easy. Mine is a plebeian style, his is an aristocratic one."

On Monday Kelly was at the University of Pittsburgh speaking at the school's bicentennial celebration.

"He was a good, dear friend and a lovely man. God bless him."

President Reagan: "Nancy and I are deeply saddened by the loss of a very dear friend. . . . Fred was, in every sense of the word, a 'super star.' He adapted a witty, sophisticated, casual air which belied the enormity of his talent. He was the ultimate dancer--the dancer who made it all look so easy. But, we knew that when we watched him dance, we were seeing the absolute master of his terpsichorean muse."

Berlin, many of whose songs Astaire introduced: "There hasn't been such a talent as his. He was an international star . . . the purest talent I have ever worked with."

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