With an entertainment career beginning since the time they could walk, it is safe to say Fred & Adele Astaire were born to be an entertainer. Adele was born in 1896, and had taken an interest in entertainment at a young age like Fred, born in 1899, had. Fred was born Frederick Austerlitz to German ancestry on May 10, 1899, in Omaha, Nebraska. Their father, Frederic Austerlitz, was born in Austria to Jewish parents, and moved to the United States in 1892. Their mother, Johanna, was born in the United States to German immigrants, who were from East Prussia.
In 1905, the Austerlitz family moved to New York, since their father had lost his job and was looking for work. While there, the family had decided to exploit the children’s talent, and opened the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts. The mother later insisted they change their last name, since, in her mind, Austerlitz sounded too reminiscent to the battle of the same name in the Napoleonic Wars. Their first act was Juvenile Artists Presenting an Electric Musical Toe-Dancing Novelty, debuted at Keyport, New Jersey, receiving very positive feedback.
After many performances, the Astaire siblings rose to popularity, and by the 1920’s, were performing on Broadway. At the time, Adele outperformed her younger brother, and received more attention, although Fred himself was indeed talented, every increasingly so. However, throughout various performances in the late 1920’s, such as ‘Funny Face’ and ‘The Band Wagon,’ Fred was recognized as a phenomenal tap dancer. After years of performance together, Fred and Adele finally went their separate ways, when Adele married in 1932. Fred continued as an entertainer, performing with entertainers such as Ginger Rogers throughout the 1930’s. Afterwards, in the 1950’s, he joined MGM, before retiring. Adele lived to be 84, passing away in 1981; Fred lived to be 88, passing away in 1987.