A lot of adjectives come to mind when one mentions Fred Astaire: debonair, poised, elegant, captivating. And nouns too, especially grace, sophistication and talent. He wasn't particularly handsome, nor did he have a singing voice comparable to so many of the romantic crooners of his day. But Astaire didn't need those standbys -- he could dance like no one else. His films with Ginger Rogers transformed the movie musical forever, and in them he proved that he wasn't just a dancer -- he was a talented light comedian too.
Astaire also had a way of singing songs as if he were carrying on a conversation -- making every word of every lyric matter. Composers like Gershwin, Berlin and Porter were inspired to write their best for him, because they knew his delivery would bring their tunes to life. Often imitated, but ne'er to be duplicated, Fred Astaire was one of a kind.