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Steps in Time

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  523 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
With Steps in Time dancer, choreographer, and movie star Fred Astaire (1899-1987) discusses the milestones of his professional life: his childhood in the vaudeville circuits; the musical comedies starring himself and sister Adele in New York and London; his movie successes; the founding of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios; and his triumphs on TV. He pays special attention to ...more
Paperback, First Cooper Square Press edition, 368 pages
Published July 25th 2000 by Cooper Square Publishers (first published 1959)
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Brittany Petruzzi
Quite the enjoyable read. He writes as if he were sitting in your living room telling you his life story over drinks and cigarettes. It also made me want to pause reading and watch each film as he mentioned them.

Now to sign up for ballroom classes...
Jan 11, 2011 Marci rated it liked it
Since I was in high school, I have never tired of watching Fred Astaire movies. I've seen them over and over through the years, and finally I decided to see what he said about his movies and his life. It is easy to "hear" the voice of Fred Astaire in this book, and it is consistent all the way through. He is an affable person, not given to negatively criticizing anyone else. There are a lot of interesting anecdotes in the book, and some description of dances from the films, but curiously, you fi ...more
Dec 27, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Through this autobiography, I learned that Fred Astaire has always been a very positive, agreeable person. He's very generous in telling us funny stories and details about all of his works. You can learn a lot by what he does NOT say too. Giving paragraphs to Leslie Caron, Bing Crosby, and others makes his one sentence about working with Gene Kelly quite a statement.
Jun 12, 2014 Alison rated it it was amazing
As a huge Astaire fan I thought this was a really interesting and enjoyable read
Christopher Walker
Dec 18, 2010 Christopher Walker rated it it was amazing
Astaire by Astaire. Good insight into his early years on the stage.
This was quite an enjoyable read! What I learned from reading Mr. Astaire's autobiography is that he was a funny person, honest, agreeable & positive person. I liked him a lot more with every page because of his good energy that I sensed with every word.

However, if you are looking for a confessional autobiography, this is not the one. To be honest, this is the case with all the older celebrities, they rarely wrote autobiographies with revelations and only stuck with keeping their "nice" imag
Feb 28, 2017 Autumn rated it it was amazing
I adore Fred Astaire even more after reading this book.

I do feel like he spent way too much time talking about his time on stage with his sister, and not enough talking about his time in films, but I still loved learning his story from his words, and if I want to learn more details on his time in films I can always pick up another biography.
Jo Oehrlein
May 05, 2013 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, dance
Autobiography that goes up through some time in the 1950s.

Lots of name dropping of various other dancers, actors, comedians, directors, producers, writers, song writers, etc. Probably more interesting if you recognize all the names. I recognized a few, but not all. He also mentioned lots of songs and dance numbers; again, probably more interesting if you've seen the movie or recognize the songs.

It feels more like a recitation of facts than the telling of a semi-coherent story. He barely mentions
Feb 26, 2013 Kristin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
It took me way too long to read this book, much longer than it should have. I just couldn't get into it! I like Fred Astaire and love his films with Ginger Rogers, but I feel like this book barely glazed the surface. There wasn't a lot of emotion in his writing (even with traumatic events, like the death of his wife), and I don't feel like I know him any more now than I did before I started the book. Also, I wasn't too particularly interested in reading about his vaudeville or Broadway days, and ...more
May 13, 2010 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I love the Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers movies especially Swing Time. She was his best partner in my mind. I've read her autobiography and his, these were complex driven people. I get the idea throughout Steps In Time that Astaire never fully opens up, he always holds something back unlike much of his dancing. Keeping parts of your life private are great unless you're writing an autobiography. By the time this finishes, I don't feel like I know him. The pictures are amazing and the movies he left ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Briana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good time but nothing spectacular, granted Fred Astaire does say from the beginning that he's not a writer. I picked this up at my local book sale on the cheap because I grew up watching Astaire's movies on tv. I do respect that he never revealed any damaging secrets about his costars in later editions and how he acknowledges his own reputation as a massive worrier and task-master. It reads like how your grandparents would tell you stories, which provides some comfort but also can get ...more
Nikki Golden
May 12, 2010 Nikki Golden rated it it was ok
Although I love and adore Fred Astaire, I think he would have been better served having someone else write this. I did learn a lot about his early life, pre-film, but there was a lot of details left out. He touched on how hard it was to do the dance sequences, but I would have liked more info there, and although you learn his first wife Phyllis has headaches and surgery for them, he never actually tells you what she was diagnosed with and died from.

All in all, though, a quick read. Oh, and it wa
I love Fred Astaire and I really wanted to find out more about how he thought and considered his career. This is a nice little book, but he is not a writer. I think he was aware of that and takes it all in stride. This read more of a Who's Who in the life of Fred Astaire more than anything. He approached life matter-of-factly and is most politically correct in his passages regarding others he's worked with. But I never got a feel for the "passion" of the man. Maybe there was none... Still... I L ...more
J.E. Raley
Jul 22, 2013 J.E. Raley rated it really liked it
An autobiography of (in my opinion) one of the best dancers of all time. It was interesting though, that Fred talked a lot about his movies and the people he worked with but glossed over the personal, both good and bad. Still, what a wonderful life he lead and what a seemingly pleasing person he was! Now I want to go get all of his films and watch them all over again to just marvel at his work.
Jd Davis
Feb 08, 2015 Jd Davis rated it really liked it
As a ballroom instructor who has worked in a Fred Astaire studio, it was a lot of fun to read this book and get a greater understanding and appreciation for all the man did and went through. I found his (now) archaic vernacular and modesty humanizing and endearing. There are several places in the book where lists of people are mentioned who I'm sure we're very important people, however they meant little too me because I had no clue who they were.
Aug 20, 2007 Lp rated it it was ok
I read this book when I was a wee thing. At the time, I found it pretty boring! I was also distressed that Astaire seemed to be much more interested in horses than dancing, but then he ended up marrying a jockey, so I guess he ended up following his bliss, so good for him.

My kids are now very into Astaire movies, so I think I should read this again, but I remember it being a bit of a slog, so probably not! Probably better to leave the memoirs to the pros.

Dec 02, 2014 Patrick rated it it was ok
Fred Astaire was an amazing dancer and a fine singer and actor. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his skill as a writer. Astaire has no interest in telling a compelling story, or in revealing any deep emotions about his life - what you get is "this happened, and then that happened." But I found it interesting for the details of life in vaudeville and musical theater before the talkies came in and mostly swept those branches of show business away.
Jan 09, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it
Anyone who loves Fred Astaire will love this. But a few side notes: he is better at dancing than writing and the book is a straight chronology. I had to slog through the first few chapters before I started getting into it. He may or may not have been a genius dancer and entertainer, but what this book puts into perspective is that he worked his whole life at it!
Oct 02, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Fred Astaire lead a fascinating life and you can tell that Fred Astaire actually wrote the book himself, unlike most autobiographies.

(Note - I read a different edition of this book. It was an extremely old edition, complete with wonderful pictures from his life and movies. I am not sure if this newer, paperback version includes the pictures.)
Jan 07, 2015 Rondapesh rated it liked it
I am a fan but this was a tough read because he names so many places and people in his career that are in no way knowable to the reader. Seeing that it was written in the 1950's makes more sense; his readers may have known vaudeville acts. Anyway, his life was fascinating and all-in-all, I enjoyed it.
Feb 05, 2014 B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though it doesn't necessarily offer any extra juicy details about his movie career, what Fred Astaire managed to do through this book is get across his personality. The simple, yet perfectionist, song and dance man.

This is a pretty straight-forwards retelling of a life of an extraordinary performer and entertainer, who doesn't really see himself as extraordinary. In his words, he just danced.
I finally finished this book! It took forever for me to read this one. I can't say I didn't enjoy it. I love Fred Astaire! His musicals have always been my favorite. Hearing about his career and personal life in his own words was fascinating. Still, I'm not one for non-fiction. I feel like if I enjoyed the genre more it would've gotten more stars from me.
May 05, 2012 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Astaire starts by freely admitting he is not a writer. But having said that the book is well written and I enjoyed many of the anecdotes. A lot of it is written very matter-of-factly and could come across as lacking feeling, however, I've found that feeling does come across but in the things that are not said rather than the things that are.

All in all, a very interesting read.
Amy Wolf
Feb 11, 2013 Amy Wolf rated it really liked it
A wonderful bio of the immortal Fred Astaire. Follows him from his dance studio beginnings, to his time on Broadway & the West End at the turn of the century, all the way through his steller film career. Astaire comes off like a gentleman & a perfectionist. A must-read for those who love his work!
Aug 24, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
I would have liked him or someone else to have picked up the pen and written about what happened in his life from the 50's where this book ends to the 80's when he passed. But I guess that is written in Someones's biography. This is a good overview of Mr. Astaire's life and although he may not dive deeply at times in certain subjects it has given me insight to his life that I didn't know.
Aug 30, 2012 Kim rated it liked it
Fred was a legendary dancer, but a great writer he was not. This book was not as interesting as it could have been. Fred was obviously hesitant to speak his mind about certain people/projects, so he made it sound like every person he met and every movie he made was delightful.
Nick Platt
Sep 06, 2009 Nick Platt rated it did not like it
After reading the book about Frank Sinatra, I was expecting another great book about an interesting person. This book just feel short. I felt like I was reading a history book. Boring. Not worth reading.
Sherwood Smith
I only read this once, while I was waiting out a rainstorm, when I ducked into a little library annex at the American Embassy in Vienna, in 1972. It was a slim little book, gracefully written but not very forthcoming--just as one would expect from Astaire.
Dec 31, 2014 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pleasure, dance
Amazing! Wish it were still in print!
Jun 13, 2011 Kate rated it liked it
I adore Fred Astaire and learning something about him in his own words was fantastic.
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