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Ginger, My Story.

GINGER, My Story, by Ginger Rogers (Harper Collins, 464 p.) is the autobiography of one of Hollywood's most enduring stars, a great dancer and a talented actress whose fame seems inextricably intertwined with the long series of romantic dance comedies she made with Fred Astaire.

Ginger isn't so much an autobiography as it is a gossipy, anecdote-laden, name dropping rundown on an extraordinary career. It's fun to read, and certainly provides a lot of details about the Hollywood of the 1930's - 1950's. The book gives an insight into the remarkable success curve of the often married (five times) Rogers, strongly hinting at her numerous affairs, which included a host of illustrious names, from Cary Grant and Howard Hughes to director George Stevens.

It's also an extraordinary book because it is so incredibly empty of thought and intellect, so utterly devoid of any kind of penetrating observation going beyond trivia.

Rogers makes it clear that her life has been sustained by her religion (she is a Christian Scientist) and her love for cats and dogs. She exhibits an extraordinary attachment to her late. ultra right-wing mother, Lela Rogers, who was intimately associated with her success story and to whom she returned after every divorce.

In fact, one is ultimately left wondering how much the strong-willed mother Rogers had to do with all those marital breakups.

Ginger is crammed with names and episodes, many of them involving Fred Astaire, with whom she partnered in such notable pictures as Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, Down to Rio, Follow the Fleet and others.

With justifiable pride, she relates how she evolved from dancer to actress, eventually earnings an Academy Award for Kitty Foyle.

Ginger Rogers didn't lead an ordinary life. She started out on stage in vaudeville as a kid, made it to Hollywood and became a great and much-loved star. The experiences she relates and her stories about the personalities she met (including Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Carter and Nixon), are all told on the level of a gossip columnist. They make a good read, are well told (always from her perspective) and attractively reflect the glitter and glamour of another era.

When she describes her wedding to Ayres (agent Leland Hayward proposed to her in the car on the way to the ceremony) she reports - straight-faced - that it was followed by a reception for "250 of our closest friends."

Her description of working with the incomparable Astaire (who wanted to get romantically involved with her on their first date) is invaluable and very entertaining, because it destroys some of the often quoted myths about their professional relationship.

Ginger has a prodigious memory and a good eye for incident. What she doesn't have is intellectual curiosity of any kind or, unfortunately, a sense of humor in describing some of the ludicrious situations in which she found herself over the years.

Too bad, because those qualities could have given the book an added dimension, and made it an important bit of screen history.
COPYRIGHT 1991 TV Trade Media, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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