GINGER ROGERS Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Virginia Katherine McMath (July 16, 1911 - April 25, 1995), better known as Ginger Rogers, was an American actress and dancer. She is most remembered as Fred Astaire’s romantic interest and dancing partner in a series of ten all-singing all-dancing Hollywood musicals, but her acting career spanned over thirty years.


Her first roles were in a trio of short films made in 1929 - Night in the Dormitory, A Day of a Man of Affairs, and Campus Sweethearts. In 1939, she played opposite David Niven in Bachelor Mother. In 1940 Ginger Rogers won the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her starring role in Kitty Foyle.


She was a conservative Republican politically, and lived for much of her life with her mother, Lela Owens McMath Rogers (1891-1977), a Christian Scientist who was a newspaper reporter, scriptwriter, movie producer, one of the first women to enlist in the Marine Corps, and a founder of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. This close mother-daughter relationship has been proffered to explain at least in part Rogers’s history of marital disappointment.


She married, firstly, on March 29, 1929, her dancing partner, Jack Pepper (real name Edward Jackson Culpepper); they divorced in 1931, having separated soon after the wedding. In 1934, she married her second husband, actor Lew Ayres (1908-1996); they separated quickly and were divorced in 1941. In 1943, she married her third husband, Jack Briggs , a Marine; they divorced in 1949. In 1953, she married her fourth husband, lawyer Jacques Bergerac (16 years her junior, he became an actor and then a cosmetics company executive); they divorced in 1957 and he soon remarried actress Dorothy Malone. In 1961, she married her fifth husband, director and producer William Marshall, but separated from him within weeks of their marriage, eventually divorcing him in 1969.


Ginger Rogers died in 1995 and was interred in the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California.


The Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford, Oregon is named in her honor.


Quotations about Rogers


“Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, and she did it backwards and in high heels.” Faith Whittlesey , former US ambassador to Switzerland. Responsibility for this quote also has been traced to a 1982 Frank and Ernest cartoon.


“Fred gave Ginger class, and Ginger gave Fred sex.” Katharine Hepburn, actress. Variants include “Astaire gave her class, and Rogers gave him sex” and “He gave her class, and she gave him sex.”