Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fred Astaire

This little 2" x 3" picture has been in my family for many years. It is a picture of a young Frederick Austerlitz who was known to the world as Fred Astaire! No, he's not a relative. Fred was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 10, 1899. His father, Fritz E. Austerlitz, worked for the Storz Brewery in Omaha and would travel throughout the midwest on his sales calls. My great-uncle, Edward Stanton, owned a tavern in Ravenna, Nebraska and the senior Austerlitz would often bring his son along with him as he traveled. Young Frederick would sometimes be a guest at my great-aunt and great-uncle's home in Ravenna. This picture appears to be taken at my aunt's home. Unfortunately, the identity of the boy on the right is unknown. We believe he is a relation (a distant cousin, perhaps), but his identity is lost. The picture was probably taken in 1904 or 1905 when Frederick would have been 5 or 6. According to a number of Internet sites, his show business career began in November 1905 when he and his older sister, Adele, began dancing in vaudeville together. There are a number of great Fred Astaire sites including FredAstaire.net and Dance on Air.