A man who rarely stopped trying...and achieving, entertainer Fred Astaire (1899-1987) was born Frederick Austerlitz on this day in Omaha, Nebraska. He put on his first pair of dancing shoes at age four when his mother enrolled him in ballet class.
"Old age is like everything else," he said. "To make a success of it, you've got to start young."
Astaire began in vaudeville, before mesmerizing Broadway and Hollywood with his incomparable style and finesse. He could sing, he could act, AND he could dance... Gliding across the floor, alone, or with a bevy of beautiful partners, including Ginger Rogers, Vera-Ellen, and Rita Hayworth.
A perfectionist and hard-worker, he defined sophistication and inventive choreography. He inspired generations of dancers. With a smile, Astaire once admitted he performed "for the applause and dough."
"The only way I know to get a good show is to practice, sweat, rehearse, and worry," said Astaire, who worked up to 18 hours a day for each musical and set standards rarely met by others.
"When you're experimenting," he explained, "you have to try so many things before you choose what you want, that you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion."
His creative sequence of You're All the World to Me in Royal Wedding (1951) featured Astaire defying gravity by dancing on the walls and ceiling in a room constructed to rotate like a squirrel cage. In another classic, Holiday Inn (1942), he danced along with a firecracker display.
Dancing airborne and defying the laws of gravity, he insisted that he be filmed "full figure" without tricky camera angles and special effects. He worked hard and set his own rules, right at the top. Transforming mistakes into flawless style.
Let mistakes bring out the best in you.