AN EVENING WITH FRED ASTAIRE COLOR TV SPECIAL
By 1957, Fred Astaire had starred in his final musical films as a leading man: "Funny Face" and "Silk Stockings." He then unofficially retired- until NBC television producer Bud Yorkin brought him back. Having done Broadway in the 30's and radio in the 40's, television was the only medium he had not yet conquered. This stunning hour-long variety show was done live, in color, and basically illustrated, in Astaire's own words, a 'dance bash.' He performed a medley of songs from his movies, presented a team of dancers who had done bits in his last films, and performed with jazz great Jonah Jones. And he re-introduced himself as a leading man with newcomer Barrie Chase, of the longer-than-long legs and Fosse-like moves, in two duets: the ballroom turn "Change Partners" and the jazz flavored "St. James Infirmary Blues," performed on trumpet and narrated by Jones, and danced in a stunning duet with Astaire and Chase that alternates between athletic and sexy. She (in black capri pants) was roughly 25 years old, he (sans white tie and tails) was 59. The special won nine Emmy awards, including one for Astaire himself, and has been preserved on color videotape- currently the SECOND oldest ever color videotape program. Truly a major achievement of early television.
Won 9 Primetime Emmys.
17 October 1958
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