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On his return to RKO Pictures Fred Ataire took fifth billing alongside Ginger Rogers in the 1933 Dolores Del Rio vehicle Flying Down to Rio. In a review, Variety magazine attributed its massive success to Astaire's presence: "The main point of Flying Down to Rio is the screen promise of Fred Astaire ... He's assuredly a bet after this one, for he's distinctly likable on the screen, the mike is kind to his voice and as a dancer he remains in a class by himself. The latter observation will be no news to the profession, which has long admitted that Astaire starts dancing where the others stop hoofing." Although Astaire was initially very reluctant to become part of another dancing team, he was persuaded by the obvious public appeal of the Astaire-Rogers pairing and he went on to make a total of ten musical films with Ginger Rogers. That partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical. The Astaire-Rogers series are among the top films of the 1930s. They include The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), and Carefree (1938). Six out of the nine musicals he created became the biggest moneymakers for RKO; all of the films brought a certain prestige and artistry that all studios at the time were looking for. Their partnership elevated them both to stardom; as Katharine Hepburn reportedly said, "He gives her class and she gives him sex appeal.". Thus, Astaire easily received the rare benefits of a percentage of the film's profits, something extremely rare in actors' contracts at that time; and complete autonomy over how the dances would be presented, allowing him to revolutionize dance on film. The only other entertainer to receive this treatment at the time was Greta Garbo. Dance commentators Arlene Croce and John Mueller consider Rogers to have been Astaire's greatest dance partner, while recognizing that some of his later partners displayed superior technical dance skills, a view shared by Hermes Pan and Stanley Donen. Film critic Pauline Kael adopts a more neutral stance, while Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel writes "The nostalgia surrounding Rogers-Astaire tends to bleach out other partners.". Mueller sums up Rogers' abilities as follows: "Rogers was outstanding among Astaire's partners not because she was superior to others as a dancer but because, as a skilled, intuitive actress, she was cagey enough to realize that acting did not stop when dancing began ... the reason so many women have fantasized about dancing with Fred Astaire is that Ginger Rogers conveyed the impression that dancing with him is the most thrilling experience imaginable." According to Astaire, "Ginger had never danced with a partner before. She faked it an awful lot. She couldn't tap and she couldn't do this and that ... but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong." However, Astaire was still unwilling to have his career tied exclusively to any partnership, having already been linked to his sister Adele on stage. He even negotiated with RKO to strike out on his own with A Damsel in Distress in 1937, unsuccessfully as it turned out. He returned to make two more films with Rogers, Carefree and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle and, when both lost money, Astaire left RKO, while Rogers remained and went on to become the studio's hottest property in the early forties. They were reunited in 1949 for their tenth and final outing in The Barkleys of Broadway. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.