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Steps in Time: An Autobiography Paperback – 5 Aug 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (5 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061567566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061567568
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

."..brimming over with fresh and amusing anecdotes..."--New York Times

"Mr. Astaire's writing, like his dancing, is precise and debonair..."--The New Yorker

."..as easy and as effervescent as his own personable way of dancing."--New York Herald Tribune

..".brimming over with fresh and amusing anecdotes..."--New York Times

..".as easy and as effervescent as his own personable way of dancing."--New York Herald Tribune

Mr. Astaire s writing, like his dancing, is precise and debonair... --The New Yorker"

...brimming over with fresh and amusing anecdotes... --New York Times"

...as easy and as effervescent as his own personable way of dancing. --New York Herald Tribune"


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It was a pleasure and an exciting thrill to read about Fred Astaire's life in his own words up until the late 1950s, at some points you really did feel like you were there, even when he talked about places or films you've never seen or even heard of! The ups and downs of Astaire's life are thought provoking and inspirational. There are parts where everyone can fit into Astaire's shoes; he seems to reflect on everyone's life in some way or another. This is a brilliant autobiography, it is one of the best I have ever read and I recommend it to all Astaire fans or people who are interested in taking a career in the theatre or on the stage.
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Format: Paperback
This autobiography reflects Fred Astaire's screen persona: grace, charm and skill delivered with no apparent effort. However, if you read between the lines there are indications of the dedication that kept him at or near the top of his profession for more than 60 years.

His sister Adele used to call him "Moaning Minnie" because he was never satisfied with anything. In other words he was a perfectionist. Once established as a Hollywood star, he had the clout to arrange filming schedules to suit his preferred way of working. All the main scenes with other actors and performers would be filmed first; this might take a couple of months. Then he'd spend weeks more after everyone else had left the set, polishing his solo routines so they could be filmed last. In this way he ensured his performances never fell below his own high standards.

Another remarkable thing is that he always wanted to try something new. In The Band Wagon (1953) his big routine with Cyd Charisse was unlike anything he'd done before: hard-boiled and (by the standards of the day) edgy. At the time of filming he'd already been a professional performer for something like 45 years (he and his sister were child stars in vaudeville) so it was remarkable he was still innovating, and still dancing as well as when he was 25 - or perhaps better.

I doubt many people today realise what a dance genius Astaire was. Every now and then you hear someone referred to as "Fred Astaire on speed" or some such nonsense (Michael Jackson was one of the first). The ability to bust a few moves is not the same as sustaining the highest level of sublime artistry - on stage and on screen - for more than half a century.
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Format: Paperback
I recently became a fan of Fred after watching a YouTube of Pick Yourself Up from Swing Time. Flawless, light-hearted, graceful - it just grabbed me. Since then I have watched quite a few of his films with Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth and some of his later films too. He is always mesmerising to watch whoever his partner but I most enjoy the films he made with Ginger. While she is supposedly not as technically good as some of his other partners (I wouldn't really know), she is warmer and really looks as though she's having fun, which is infectious. Also the chemistry between them is convincing - and this is probably down to her.
It's a bit disappointing then, on reading Fred's interesting autobiography, that he very quickly wanted out of the team and his references to Ginger are quite dismissive. I would have liked him to have given her a bit more credit. I think he did in later life: "She had guts" etc. I still love to watch them dance - particularly Waltz in Swing Time and Night and Day. You do feel that there is a rapport.
The autobiography is the real man - not the light-footed happy-go-lucky chap of the movies but the perfectionist worrier trying not to "blow his top". It is interesting to read of his progress from child performer to twenties stage star and then film star, in his own straightforward words. I enjoyed it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've just started reading this and am really enjoying it. The book has some nice photo's of Fred at various stages in his career - with sister Adele as a child and on through his stage performances and movies. Great to learn his history "from the horse's mouth". Fred's writing style is very conversational and to the point. I can almost hear his voice when I'm reading it, which is nice.
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By Mr. A. Whiteside TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This autobiography from Fred Astaire is just what you'd expect as it's like the man himself. It's stylish, easy going and entertaining. If you are after juicy gossip regarding a host of Hollywood stars then you are going to be disappointed as Fred tells his many stories in a witty and always engaging style but doesn't really give too much away about his co-stars. I particularly liked the period he covers when he danced with his sister Adele and the many experiences they shared including getting to know royalty. Another endearing quality of his writing style is that he is never afraid to send himself up and describes his bad temper, his 'hair embellishment' and seeing himself on screen for the first time as him 'looking like a knife!'.

Fred had his fair share of tragedy especially the time when he lost his beloved wife Phyliss and he describes this terrible time in his life with sadness but never pity. Through all of his many stories he is never less than interesting and has the knack of saying just enough without ever boring the reader.

This is a very entertaining read from a true star and gives you a good idea of the early days of the theatre and of Hollywood. For what it's worth, I consider him to be the best dancer ever and this is a fitting book to a true movie legend.
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