August 17, 1997 |
A cultural icon's place in the public's heart is much like a politician's: He belongs to everyone and everyone acts as though they've elected him to Olympus. That's true for no one more than Fred Astaire, the American god of an American art form, the smooth soft shoe. Long after the curtain fell on his career, his audience remains as devoted as any fervent constituents. And when people think you're messing with their legends, watch out.
August 15, 1997
Is Robyn Astaire protecting the memory of her revered husband or cashing in on it? A rare interview with Fred Astaire's widow. * What kind of a summer has it been for movies? Jack Mathews and Kenneth Turan face off. * Americans have a problem with Oasis' battling Gallagher brothers. * Is "George Wallace" biased?
May 15, 1994
Regarding "The American Way . . . That's Litigation!" (Film Clips, April 24): I was appalled that Robyn Astaire is charging to show clips from Fred Astaire's movies; how rich does one have to get? I understand he left her millions. Fred & Ginger movies are part of our American heritage; they are part of movie history. You'd think she'd be proud to lend out clips from his movies so that many more people in the world can be enriched to see Fred & Ginger dancing, like only they could do. I can't believe Fred would have wanted it this way!
June 9, 1988 |
In 1980, Fred Astaire, who had been a widower since 1954 and who had just turned 81, married Robyn Smith, who was 35 and one of the first and most successful woman jockeys in the country. "We were married on June 24, 1980," Robyn Astaire said the other day, "and by a sad coincidence we buried him on June 24, 1987. But we'd had seven years of bliss. It was fate, absolutely; I know God put us together."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 21, 1998 |
A federal appeals court has ruled that Fred Astaire's widow cannot control his likeness in film clips if they are included as part of the content of an instructional videotape or documentary. The ruling, published Friday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholds an earlier decision by the same panel last year on an issue that has been closely watched throughout the Hollywood film industry. By a 2-1 vote, appellate justices denied Robyn Astaire's request for a rehearing on the matter.
August 24, 1997
In general, I applaud anyone who tries to avoid cheapening the image of a film icon. It's a little harder to applaud the person who allowed Fred Astaire to be made into a shill for vacuum cleaners ("Fred Is Her Co-Pilot," by Irene Lacher, Aug. 17). But what's most shocking about Robyn Astaire is her attitude toward people who seek to use Fred Astaire's image in the most common and respectful way: by using clips from the films that made him famous. To refuse George Stevens Jr.'s request to use Fred Astaire's image in a Kennedy Center tribute to Ginger Rogers is mean-spirited, but to demand $70,000, as Stevens says she did, is shocking.