THE LAST TIME FRED PLAYED LONDON loads o pix

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THE LAST TIME FRED PLAYED LONDON loads o pix

Most of these are from my collection and some images I found on the internets. Fred Astaire's last live performances - the production of "Gay Divorce" in London in November of 1933.





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Updated On: 4/3/08 at 02:25 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#2
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:19pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

In 1932, Fred Astaire faced a career-altering dilemma.

He and his sister, the beloved Adele Astaire had been a brother-and-sister act for almost three decades. They had starred in numerous shows on Broadway and in London (and on tour on both continents) and were at the very top of their acclaim and abilities when Adele decided to quit the business and marry Lord Cavendish, a peer she met at a swank party in London.

Fred, not wanting to give up yet, decided to roll the dice and star in a show on his own. Cole Porter wrote a good score, including the haunting "Night and Day" but the show's book was weak. It was based on an old-style farce ("Why Mimi, you never told me you were married.... who's behind that door?") and, frankly, there was not one good singer in the cast.

The New York critics were vicious, pointing out that the orchestra often overwhelmed the singers, including Fred, who had a thin but pleasant voice. His leading lady was the gorgeous Claire Luce (not to be mistaken with Claire BOOTH Luce, author of "The Women" and trollop extraordinaire). Claire had been a Follies Girl who went on to great acclaim as a dancer and sometimes singer in various reviews before she teamed up with Fred.

Claire stayed on in London and starred in many shows. When she returned to New York, she starred as "Curly's Wife" and was killed by Broderick Crawford eight performances a week in the original production of "Of Mice and Men."

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 03:19 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#2
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:25pm
wow! so "gay divorce" actually came BEFORE "gay marriage"??? i had no idea ...

re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'
"You, sir, are a moron." (PlayItAgain)
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#3
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:32pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

wow, your moniker is so appropriate!

Moving on, here's one of the London reviews, which were much more generous (they REALLY loved Fred). Look at all the other familiar names in the third review.



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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 03:32 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#4
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:34pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Here's Claire. Love the eyebrows. Max Factor Pencil #3.

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 03:34 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#5
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:36pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Here's Fred at that time. The man was sartorial perfection.

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#6
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:38pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

This is the photo used on the cover of the Playbill for the Broadway Production. Apparently, the photo was taken in '32 during the run of "The Bandwagon."

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#7
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:53pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Here is the cover of the New York Production. Photo is flopped and touched up. (I know this because I have the photo itself, white paint, pencil and all).

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 03:53 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#8
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:55pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

And here's the London Playbill. Note the "Smoking Permitted" caption. (Inside it says "Smoking Permitted. Abdullahs by chioce!!" in every London playbill I've ever bought.) Must have been pretty hazy by final curtain!

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 03:55 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#9
Posted: 3/29/08 at 3:59pm
More tonight. I'm off to see "21." Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth and Vegas gambling. Talk about good for the whole family....
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#10
Posted: 3/29/08 at 4:17pm
the last time I saw Richard it was Detroit in 68 and he told me, "all romantics meet the same fate!"
"Picture "The View," with the wisecracking, sympathetic sweethearts of that ABC television show replaced by a panel of embittered, suffering or enraged Arab women" -the Times review of Black Eyed
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#11
Posted: 3/29/08 at 10:15pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Claud Alister plays Fred's twit friend as a British Twit, as opposed to the proto-gay versions in the American version. I prefer Edward Everett Horton's version.

Eric Blore, who played the butler at the resort, reprised the role on film. Fred brought Blore, Luce and Eric Rhodes with him from Broadway, probably a sign of his uncertainty at that point.

During the lull between the Broadway and London run, Fred ventured out to Hollywood to film a cameo in "Dancing Lady" and third shared lead in "Flying Down To Rio" with his old friend Ginger Rodgers (they had briefly dated when Fred choreographed a number for her). He still wasn't certain what to do next....

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 10:15 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#12
Posted: 3/29/08 at 10:36pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

And then there was Ginger.

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 10:36 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#13
Posted: 3/29/08 at 10:37pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

This is how we always remember them. (And Fred seems to have found a better wigmaker in Los Angeles).

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Updated On: 3/29/08 at 10:37 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#14
Posted: 3/29/08 at 10:41pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

But first, Fred had 180 more performances to get through with Claire.

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Updated On: 3/30/08 at 10:41 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#15
Posted: 3/29/08 at 10:51pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Meanwhile, Teddy discovers women.

The show had an unusual cast: Astaire, Luce, Blore, Rhodes, Alister and one or two other men and a chorus of 16 beautiful young girls.

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#16
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:00pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Okay, here's Eric Blore as the droll Hotel Waiter and I forgot to mention Olive Blakeney in the role played on Broadway by Luella Gear. Every musical in the 20s and 30s seemed to have a woman of a certain age making outrageous and caustic remarks.

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#17
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:03pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Claire Luce was great beauty of her time - personally glorified by Ziegfeld (although I'm convinced that process actually involved a bedroom just off the office through a secret door...) but by today's standards, half that nose would have to go!

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#18
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:08pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

I don't own one of these but I wish the heck I did. It's the rare alternative cover version of the Broadway playbill for "Gay Divorce" for the first few months when the show ran at the Ethel Barrymore. We all have copies of the program from the Shubert run in the winter/spring of 33.

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#19
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:26pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Hard as it is to believe, this is a candid from the period of Claire Luce

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#20
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:27pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

I prefer her like this. Who does her nails?

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Updated On: 3/30/08 at 11:27 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#21
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:32pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall

Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating
You, you, you

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Day and night, night and day, why is it so

That this longing for you follows wherever I go
In the roaring traffic's boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Day and night, night and day

Under the hide of me
There's an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And this torment won't be through
Until you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

by Cole Porter

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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#22
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:48pm
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

And speaking of stooges.....

Here are the three dolt roles. Eric Blore was putting on a recieved English accent, Eric Rhodes has a British chap (I met him, nice guy, thick English accent) playing an Eye-talian ("Your wife is safe with Tonetti. He-a prefer spaghetti.") and Claud Allister played his role with a twee accent.

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Updated On: 3/30/08 at 11:48 PM
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#23
Posted: 3/29/08 at 11:48pm
more later, including the musical numbers and some props.
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re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'#24
Posted: 3/30/08 at 1:10am
re: 'The Last Time Fred Played London'

Here's a shot of Fred and his sister Adele Astaire from around the time of "Gay Divorce." The photo is actually an 11x14 that has been resized with white-out for a newspaper (it has all the pica sizes and stamps of the New York Journal American on the reverse.)

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