7/16/1911 to 4/25/1995
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911.
Her mother Lelee went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped by her father several times until her mother took him to court. Gingers mother left her child in the care of her parents while she went in search of a job as a scriptwriter in Hollywood and later to New York City. Lelee found herself with an income good enough to where she could send for Ginger. Lelee became a Marine in 1918 and was in the publicity department and Ginger went back to her grandparents in Missiouri. During this time her mother met John Rogers. After leaving the Marines they married in May, 1920 in Liberty, Missouri. He was transferred to Dallas and Ginger (who treated him as a father) went too.
Was given the name "Ginger" by her little cousin who couldn't pronounce "Virginia" correctly.
Ginger won a Charleston contest in 1925 (age 14) and a 4 week contract on the Interstate circuit. She also appeared in vaudeville acts which she did until she was 17 with her mother Lelee by her side to guide her. She acquired an agent and she did several short films. She went to New York where she appeared in the Broadway production of "Top Speed" which debuted Christmas Day, 1929. Her first film was a bit part in 1929 in A Night in a Dormitory. Later that year, Ginger appeared, briefly in two more films, for awhile she did both movies and theatre.
The movie that enamoured her to the public was Gold Diggers of 1933. She did not have top billing but her beauty and voice was enough to have the public want more. She suggested using a monocle and this also set her apart. One song she popularized in the film was the now famous, "We're in the Money".
Ginger's real stardom occurred when she was teamed with Fred Astaire where they were one of the best cinematic couples ever to hit the silver screen. This is where she achieved real stardom. They were first paired in 1933's Flying Down to Rio (1933) and later in 1935's Roberta (1935) and Top Hat (1935) others followed.
After that studio executives at RKO wanted Ginger to strike out on her own. She made several dramatic pictures, and won an Academy Award for the 1940's Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman. Through the rest of the 1940s and early 1950s she continued to make movies, after Oh, Men! Oh, Women! in 1957, Ginger didn't appear on the silver screen for seven years.
By 1965, she had appeared for the last time in Harlow. Afterward, she appeared on Broadway and other stage plays travelling in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. After 1984, she retired and wrote an autobiography in 1991 entitled, "Ginger, My Story". On April 25, 1995, Ginger died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83.