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Fred Astaire
Long before “Dancing with the Stars” brought rappers and bullriders to the ballroom floor, there was Fred Astaire, bringing song and dance to the big screen.

In musicals from “Top Hat” to “Funny Face” and “Silk Stockings,” he wooed Hollywood’s leading ladies — and viewers around the world — with his elegance, grace, and impeccable dance.

Cultural critic Joseph Epstein brings a fresh take to the story of Fred Astaire, from vaudeville days to enduring icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

This hour, On Point: The art and life of the extraordinary Fred Astaire.

You can join the conversation. Did you grow up watching Fred Astaire’s footwork in movies like “Top Hat,” “Swing Time,” and “The Gay Divorcee”? Does “Puttin’ On the Ritz" make you get up and dance?

Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.Guests:

Joining us from Evanston, Illinois, is Joseph Epstein, essayist and bestselling author of "Snobbery: The American Way" and "Friendship: An Expose." His new book, "Fred Astaire," appears in the "Icons of America" series from Yale University Press.  Read an excerpt (pdf).

From New York, we're joined by Elizabeth Kendall, dance critic and author of "The Runaway Bride: Hollywood Romantic Comedy in the 1930's" and, most recently, "Autobiography of a Wardrobe." She's a professor at Eugene Lang College, The New School of Liberal Arts.

Here's Fred Astaire and "Puttin' on the Ritz" ...

 
Here's Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Swing Time" ...


And here they are "Dancing Cheek to Cheek"...

This program aired on April 16, 2009.

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