Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth were two of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the golden age of musicals in the 1930s and 1940s. Though they made only two films together, their partnership left a lasting impression on moviegoers and critics alike. Their natural chemistry and flawless dance routines wowed audiences and helped cement their status as the era’s most iconic dance duo.
Over the years, Astaire had plenty of complimentary things to say about his talented co-star both professionally and personally. He admired her work ethic, her dedication to dance, and her ability to combine acting and dancing so effortlessly on screen. Even decades after retiring from film, Astaire continued to sing Hayworth’s praises and reflect fondly on their time working together.
The Films They Made Together
Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth co-starred in just two films: You Were Never Lovelier in 1942 and You’ll Never Get Rich in 1941. Both were successful, light-hearted musicals that allowed the duo to showcase their impeccable dancing skills.
You Were Never Lovelier, which was set in Buenos Aires, paired the two as reluctant romantic interests. Astaire played an American dancer named Robert Davis who pretends to be in love with Hayworth’s character, Maria Acuña, at the urging of her father. The film included several memorable dance numbers choreographed by Astaire collaborator Hermes Pan, including a sultry tango routine.
Their first on-screen partnership was You’ll Never Get Rich. Fred Astaire starred as a Broadway choreographer drafted into the army, while Hayworth played his girlfriend. The movie, which featured music and lyrics by Cole Porter, included tap and ballroom dancing by the popular duo. One of their most famous routines was a hip-swiveling Latin dance number set to “So Near and Yet So Far.”
|Notable Dance Numbers
|You Were Never Lovelier
|“Shorty George” (tango scene)
|You’ll Never Get Rich
|“So Near and Yet So Far” (samba scene)
Astaire’s Thoughts on Hayworth’s Talent
Fred Astaire was always quick to praise Rita Hayworth’s natural talent and work ethic, both while they were working together and long after their partnership ended. He found her to be a consummate professional on set who never needed more than a few takes to perfect a dance scene.
In a 1942 interview around the release of You Were Never Lovelier, Astaire remarked: “Rita learned dancing rapidly. She has great enthusiasm and an innate sense of rhythm.” He also complimented her acting ability, noting: “She has a keen sense of comedy and an authentic dramatic style. She has a great career ahead of her.”
Decades later in 1971, Astaire reiterated his admiration for Hayworth’s skill and discipline: “Rita Hayworth was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. She studied dancing from the bottom up.” He added, “We couldn’t have achieved such success without great teamwork.”
Clearly Hayworth left a lasting impression, as Astaire continued to speak positively of her quick learning style and dedication throughout his life. He appreciated that she always came prepared to set and was able to pick up choreography quickly.
His Thoughts on Their Chemistry
Aside from praising Rita Hayworth’s talent, Fred Astaire also frequently commented on their natural chemistry together on screen. He believed that their contrasting dance styles and on-screen personas blended seamlessly, creating an energetic spark.
Astaire once noted: “Rita was a great beauty and a truly gifted dancer. We had a wonderful chemistry when we worked together.” Though he conveyed an effortless elegance and she a fiery glamour, he said their differences complemented one another.
The actor remarked of their sizzling dance routines: “There was a electricity when we danced together. We had a syncopation that just worked.” He specifically cited the Latin dance numbers, like the samba scene in You’ll Never Get Rich, as highlights where their chemistry was obvious and their friendly rivalry enhanced the choreography.
Even years after retiring, Astaire still remembered the magic of their time on and off camera fondly: “Rita could adapt to any dance style and we inspired each other to be better. The chemistry was there at every rehearsal, every take, and every moment in between.”
His Compliments on Her Beauty and Charm
Along with praising Rita Hayworth’s work ethic and on-screen charisma, Fred Astaire also frequently commented on her stunning beauty and charm. He found her enchanting not just on film but also in person.
Astaire once gushed: “Rita had a special kind of beauty and glamour that was unmatched. The camera loved her.” He stated throughout his life that she was one of the most gorgeous women ever to grace the silver screen.
The dancer also admired Hayworth’s magnetism off-camera as well, saying: “She could light up a room with her smile and charm. Everyone adored being around Rita.”
He noted how her warm personality and sense of humor endeared her to the cast and crew. Astaire reflected: “Her beauty went beyond her looks. She had an incredible appeal that attracted people to her.”
Even into old age, the actor continued to speak highly of Hayworth’s appearance, stating in a 1987 interview: “To me, Rita was one of the most beautiful women to ever live. She took my breath away every time I saw her.”
His Fond Memories of Their Partnership
Although Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth made just two films together, he looked back on their time working together fondly throughout his life. The actor often expressed a sense of nostalgia when reminiscing about their days on set and promoting their joint musicals.
Astaire was known to rewatch their films, studying the choreography and recalling happier times. He stated in a 1976 interview: “Watching those old dance numbers with Rita brings a smile to my face and transports me back in time.”
Even in his advanced years, the dancer’s eyes would light up whenever Hayworth’s name was mentioned in interviews. He told biographer Charlie Reinhart in 1985: “My memories of Rita bring me so much joy. We created magic together on the dance floor.”
Overall, despite their limited on-screen collaboration, Fred Astaire remained consistently positive when reminiscing about Rita Hayworth. From her exceptional talent to her natural charm, he regarded her as a once-in-a-lifetime talent and treasured the partnership they shared.
His Reaction to Her Death
When Rita Hayworth passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 1987 at age 68, Fred Astaire was deeply saddened by the loss of his former co-star and dance partner. Though decades had passed since they last worked together, he still felt great affection for her.
Astaire issued a heartfelt statement after learning of her death, saying “I’m very upset to hear of Rita’s passing. She was a brilliant dancer and a wonderful actress who did everything with such grace and charm.”
The actor had made it a point to visit Hayworth in her final years as her health declined, reminiscing about their work together. After her death, he revealed: “It was painful to see her so ill, but I’m grateful we stayed in touch. I’ll always remember the beauty and joy she brought to the world.”
At Hayworth’s funeral, Astaire served as an honorary pallbearer along with other stars she had worked with over the years. Reports noted that he looked visibly shaken and mournful as he helped carry her casket, saying a final farewell to his former co-star.
For the remainder of his life, Astaire continued to speak highly of Hayworth in interviews, expressing how much he valued their friendship and treasured her memory. Her passing marked the loss of a dear friend and an exceptionally talented performer in his eyes.
Throughout his life, both during and long after working with Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire was always quick to compliment her prodigious talent, tireless work ethic, captivating beauty, and infectious charm. He fondly remembered their instant on-screen chemistry and ability to push each other to new creative heights while collaborating.
Though they only appeared in two films together, Astaire considered Hayworth one of his favorite and most gifted co-stars. He remained a devoted friend until her death in 1987, which deeply saddened the legendary actor and dancer. Hayworth undoubtedly left an indelible mark on Astaire both professionally and personally. Their brief but magical shared screen time represented an iconic Hollywood duo at their creative peak.