In honor of TCM's Ginger Rogers day on Summer Under the Stars, in which the earliest film they air is from 1933, we're going way back! The following notes gathered from old time newspapers don't go past 1930. And so, let's revisit the Charleston champ, Ginger Rogers and the Redheads, and finish things up with Ginger's first few movies. Enjoy!
Charleston Contest and Ginger Rogers Fill Theater
From the Galveston Daily News, January 14, 1926:
It remained for Ginger Rogers, Texas' star Charlestoner, and the Martini-News Charleston contest to top all audiences which have frequented the Martini Theater in many a year, and so great was the enthusiasm and so widespread the interest that it was difficult for the audience and Ginger to select the winners both afternoon and night. Early in the day the "S.R.O." sign was hung out.
It is rarely that Galvestonians hve had occasion to meet across the footlights as winsome a youngster as Ginger Rogers, late of Fort Worth, but whose talent and genial personality will soon claim as home the entire continent. Not only is she a Charlestoner of ability, but her charm and refreshing self-poise in a youngster of 14 years, immediately stamps her as one with whom the world will yet reckon. Ginger, who conducts the Charleston contest, gets as much fun out of the act as the rest of the audience, and her enjoyment and fun are contagious.
Babcock Headliners Shine in Charleston Stunts
From the Billings Gazette of Billings, Montana, May 16, 1926:
Another number in the spotlight is the kaleidoscopic Charleston offering of Ginger Rogers, Earl Leach and Jo Butler. This act went over with great eclat with Saturday's audiences. No wonder. To the nimble, jazzy rhythm of the hectic dance, Miss Rogers strung a gingerful contact with the audience. She is endowed with a bubbling personality and is said to resemble Betty Bronson, the movie star. Recently she won the Texas state Charleston contest and her male parters were runners-up. Miss Rogers received a four-week contract from one of the largest vaudeville circuits in the country and proved so successful that she was immediately engaged for a tour over the Association vaudeville route. In addition to dancing the Charleston the trio introduce their own original dance called the "Texas tango."
Vaudeville at Strand Tonight
From the The Emporia Daily Gazette of Emporia, Kansas, October 8, 1926:
Patrons of the Strand theater this evening and Saturday will see two new dances presented by members of this week's vaudeville troupe. The troupe is "Ginger Rogers and Her Redheads." Miss Rogers will do the Valencia, and her cousin, "Peppy" Rogers, a former K.U. student, will introduce "Black Bottom." The Ginger Rogers company is composed of six women and three men. Mrs. Lela Rogers, the mother of Ginger Rogers, is a member of the company. Ginger Rogers is the Charleston champion of the southwest, and her company's performance will include single, dancing and comedy acts. The performers are young, lively and good-looking, and should give a good show.
Galveston Supper Club Reopens
From the Galveston Daily News of April 10, 1927, included amongst the rundown of entertainers reopening the Winter Garden Supper Club:
Ginger Rogers, petite and snappy singer, who has just closed a seventeen weeks engagement at the Friars Inn at Chicago, sang and danced a bit. Miss Rogers has appeared in Galveston upon previous occasions.
Sheiks of Jazzaby
Not much here, but I wanted to be able to type "Sheiks of Jazzaby." From the Suburbanite Economist of Chicago, August 26, 1927:
On the stage the Tivoli next week Frankie Masters, the new stage leader, will make his bow at the Tivoli with his jazz orchestra in "Sheiks of Jazzaby." With Frankie with be Tyler Mason, Gus Mulcahy, Ginger Rogers, Fritz & Jean Hubert, the Markert Dancing Beauties and other stage entertainers.
Ginger's GingerbreadThe San Antonio Light of February 19, 1929 reports upon Mrs. Ida M. Chitwood, "nationally famous culinary expert," being in town, noting that:
It is seldom that Mrs. Chitwood finds a recipe that she has not already tested, but "Ginger" Rogers, petite blues singer at the Texas theater, showed her a new way to make gingerbread.
Cooking is one of Miss Rogers hobbies and, living up to her name, "Gingerbread" is her favorite dish.
If you're looking for the recipe you'll have to track down the article! But it is there!
Richard G. Massock features Ginger in his "About New York" column of January 9, 1930:
And Ginger's newly won applause on the Main Street of Manhattan is but a further indication that the fresh vivacity of youth is still one of the best commodities in amusement's big market.
Some of Ginger's background is told along with a story where she gives her real age as 18, "but added, with characteristic skepticism, that she might be 20," before moving along to declare:
Ginger Rogers' instantaneous success also indicates how rapidly one may get ahead when personality and talent are combined.
A Night in a Dormitory
Under a photo of Ginger, with close cropped hair, comes the following from the Montana Standard, February 23, 1930:
Ginger Rogers, charming Pathe player, is winning praise by her admirable acting and singing in Harry Delmar's current Pathe musical production, "A Night in a Dormitory," which recently closed a three weeks' engagement on Broadway. Although Miss Rogers has been on the stage only two years, she exhibits remarkable mimetic talent and her singing voice records delightfully.
Ginger Rogers Makes Success
Comes the story from her old Texas newspaper, the Galveston Daily News, April 26, 1930:
Echoes of the success with which Ginger Rogers, versatile young Texan, is meeting in the East are being heard in Galveston where as a youngster of 14 years she made her professional stage debut at Hollywood, Galveston night club, after appearing on the stage at the Martini Theater.
Miss Rogers, a wee bit of femininity with lots of personality and charm, always claims Texas as her native state, although she didn't happen to be born here. There's another reason that makes Ginger Rogers faithful to Texas, for she married a Texas boy, Jack Culpepper of Dallas, known on the stage as Jack Pepper.
Ginger's career to date is then covered including mentions of Top Speed on Broadway which earned her a big biographical write-up in an "outstanding New York paper" and led to a three-year contract with Paramount where she had made the films Young Man of Manhattan, Queen High and Heads Up.
UP Staff Correspondent H. Allen Smith reports on August 12, 1930:
Ginger Rogers, of Broadway and the movies, and Ginger Rodgers, of Greenwich Village, have never met. Yet they frequently receive each other's mail and, only recently, became somewhat entangled over a prospective husband.
Background is given for each of the Gingers with our Ginger, you know, the famous one, referred to in the following paragraph as Ginger (Dallas) Rogers. The other Ginger, Rodgers with a "D," currently a singer in Greenwich Village, comes from Mexico, MO. To conclude:
Ginger (Mexico) Rodgers recently became engaged to John Keating, Jr. Several New York newspapers, in announcing the engagement, named Ginger (Texas) Rogers as the prospective bride. Pictures of Ginger (Texas) Rogers were printed in conjunction with the announcement. But it was finally straightened out to the satisfaction of everyone concerned.
The Kokomo Tribune, for instance, got it half right naming our Ginger, no "D," as daughter of the folks from Mexico, with "D":
Neosho, MO Remembers
From the Neosho Daily Democrat, September 23, 1930, some background on Ginger including mention of her being the Charleston Queen of Texas and bringing Ginger Roger's Red Heads to Neosho's Orpheum follows up with:
After Ginger Rogers' Redheads had toured the Central West, an offer came for her to appear with Paul Ash, then Master of Cermonies at the Oriental Theater, Chicago ... After he (Ash) was transferred to the Paramount theater, New York, and Ginger Rogers, as one of the dancers in his show went there also. Later he was transferred again to the Rivoli in Brooklyn and Ginger Rogers made the change. Being close to the eastern studios where most of the comedies of Pathe are made, Ginger was offered parts in some of their dancing and singing comedies and appeared to distinct advantage. From this Paramount signed her for appearance in feature pictures. All this is quite a lot of advancement in the space of just about two years and a half but, when you see Ginger in suppor tof Jack Oakie in "The Sap from Syracuse," ... you will realize that this little girl who we knew here as the Charleston Queen of Texas has grown to young womanhood and that she justly deserves the advancement her talent has so easily won for her.
- "Babcock Headliners Shine in Charleston Stunts." Billings Gazette 16 May 1926: 13. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Beau Geste and Frankie Masters in Tivoli Show." Suburbanite Economist 26 Aug 1927: 2. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Charming Comedienne." Montana Standard 23 Feb 1930: 34. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Food Lecturer is 'Taught' New Dish." San Antonio Light 19 Feb 1929: 16. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Gay Attendance Sees Reopening of Supper Club." Galveston Daily News 10 Apr 1927: 15. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Ginger Rogers Here This Week." Neosho Daily Democrat 23 Sep 1930: 3. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Ginger Rogers Makes Success." Galveston Daily New 26 Apr 1930: 18. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- Massock, Richard G. "About New York." Alton Evening Telegraph 9 Jan 1930: 4. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "News-Martini Charleston Contest and Ginger Rogers Fill Theater to Capacity." Galveston Daily News 14 Jan 1926: 1. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- Smith, H. Allen. "Knickerbocker Knick-Knacks." 12 Aug 1930: 4. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
- "Vaudeville at Strand Tonight." The Emporia Daily Gazette 8 Oct 1926: 2. NewspaperArchive. Web. 11 Aug 2012.
2012 TCM Summer Under the Stars
Featuring four Rogers and Astaire films mixed throughout the day for variety, as well as: Kitty Foyle, the film which won Ginger her Academy Award; delightful screwball comedies such as Fifth Avenue Girl and Bachelor Mother; Ginger and Kate in Stage Door; a fantastic dramatic turn in the must-see Primrose Path; and in the prime 8pm EST time slot, it's Anytime Annie shufflin' off to Buffalo in 42nd Street.
Some favorites are missing ... but quite a few are there, enjoy:
Sunday, August 12 - Ginger Rogers - Summer Under the Stars
- 6:00 am - Rafter Romance (1933) starring Ginger Rogers, Norman Foster, George Sidney
- 7:30 am - Carefree (1938) starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ralph Bellamy
- 9:15 am - Fifth Avenue Girl (1939) starring Ginger Rogers, Walter Connolly, Tim Holt
- 11:00 am - Kitty Foyle (1940) starring Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan, Gladys Cooper
- 1:00 pm - Bachelor Mother (1939) starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn
- 2:30 pm - Primrose Path (1940) starring Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, Marjorie Rambeau
- 4:15 pm - Shall We Dance (1937) starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton
- 6:15 pm - Vivacious Lady (1937) starring Ginger Rogers, James Stewart, Charles Coburn
- 8:00 pm - 42nd Street (1933) starring Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell
- 9:45 pm - Swing Time (1936) starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
- 11:45 pm - Stage Door (1937) starring Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou
- 1:30 am - The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant
- 3:30 am - Weekend at the Waldorf (1945) starring Ginger Rogers, Walter Pidgeon, Lana Turner
*All times EST.