Today marks the 117th anniversary of the birth of Adele Astaire.
Though her fame was later eclipsed by that of her younger brother, Fred, Adele was during their 27 year partnership the star of the show. The Astaire's career began as small children in Vaudeville with a dance number titled the Wedding Cake. The first of a number of short acts and the beginning of Fred's life long association with top hat and tails.
By the time they were teenagers the Astaire's were tired of Vaudeville and had moved to Manhattan in search of a stage career. There success came in 1919 in the show Apple Blossoms, in which their imaginative dance numbers stole the show and made them overnight sensations (after years of hard work.) Soon the Astaire's where the toast of Broadway. In particular audiences, and critics, fell head over heats for Adele. Her mischievous elfin demeanor perfectly matched the flapper ideal of the day. She was soon besieged by admirers and received hundreds of proposals, some from gentleman who had never actually met her. They appeared in many more shows and traveled to London becoming as famous there as they were in America.
Adele retired in 1931 at the age of 35 and married Lord Charles Cavendish. Sadly the marriage was marred by tragedy. Adele's three children died in infancy and her husband passed away from complications due to alcoholism at the age of 38. Happily a later marriage to investment banker Kingman Douglas appears to have been happier. Adele never returned to the stage and today is largely forgotten, unlike her film star brother. Thanks to the wonderful book The Astaire's by Kathleen Riley readers have a change to learn more about Adele.