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Lucille Bremer; Film Actress, Astaire Dancing Partner

April 20, 1996|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lucille Bremer, titian-haired Radio City Music Hall Rockette who became a film actress and dancing partner of Fred Astaire, has died at the age of 79.

Bremer, who spent much of her adult life in Baja California, died Tuesday at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after a heart attack.

"Know what you want and you are more than halfway to it," Bremer told Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper in 1944 after making her film debut in Judy Garland's "Meet Me in St. Louis."

"I've always known what I wanted," she said. "I was 7 when I asked to be sent to dancing school. From that point on, I knew that a career on stage or screen was my ultimate aim."

Born in Amsterdam, N.Y., she was dancing with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 12 and by 16 had become a Rockette. She also danced in New York's Copacabana and Versailles nightclubs.

Bremer was chosen by Astaire as his partner in the 1945 film "Yolanda and the Thief" and appeared with him, Garland, Gene Kelly and other dancers in "Ziegfeld Follies." Her other films included "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Dark Delusion," "Adventures of Casanova," "Behind Locked Doors" and "Ruthless."

Because of her striking good looks, Bremer was also in demand as a model and in 1947 became Life magazine's first color cover.

Critically praised for brains as well as beauty and acting as well as dancing talent, Bremer nevertheless walked away from her promising career in 1948, when she married Abelardo Louis Rodriguez, son of former Mexican President Abelardo Rodriguez.

During the couple's 15-year marriage, they divided their time between La Jolla and La Paz, where they actively promoted the development of Baja.

Bremer is survived by four children, Christina Battaglia and Karen, Nicholas and Torre Rodriguez, and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned in a chapel that Bremer helped build 40 years ago in Las Cruces, Baja California.

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