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Fred Astaire

Dancer, actor, and singer Fred Astaire worked steadily in various entertainment media during nine decades of the 20th century. The most celebrated dancer in the history of film, with appearances in 31 movie musicals between 1933 and 1968 (and a special Academy Award in recognition of his accomplishments in them), Astaire also danced on-stage and on television (garnering two Emmy Awards in the process), and he even treated listening audiences to his accomplished tap dancing on records and on his own radio series. He appeared in another eight non-musical feature films and on numerous television programs, resulting in an Academy Award nomination and a third Emmy Award as an actor. His light tenor voice and smooth, conversational phrasing made him an ideal interpreter for the major songwriters of his era, and he introduced dozens of pop standards, many of them written expressly for him, by such composers as Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Burton Lane, Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Arthur Schwartz, Harry Warren, and Vincent Youmans. Although his efforts as a dancer necessarily overshadowed his purely musical work, he made hundreds of recordings over a period of more than 50 years, resulting in several major hits.