Ginger Rogers (born Virginia Katherine McMath; July 16, 1911 – April 25, 1995) was an American actress, dancer, and singer. She is known for her performances in films and RKO's musical films in which she was partnered with Fred Astaire. She appeared on stage, as well as on radio and television, throughout much of the 20th century.
Born in Independence, Missouri, and raised in Kansas City, Rogers and her family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, when she was nine. After winning a dance contest that launched a successful vaudeville career, she gained recognition as a Broadway actress for her debut stage role in Girl Crazy. This success led to a contract with Paramount Pictures, which ended after five films. Rogers' first successful film role was a supporting role in 42nd Street (1933). Throughout the 1930s, Rogers made 10 films with Astaire, among which were some of her biggest successes, such as Swing Time (1936) and Top Hat (1935). After two commercial failures with Astaire, Rogers began to branch out into dramatic films and comedies. Her acting was well received by critics and audiences, and she became one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1940s. Her performance in Kitty Foyle (1940) won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Though she remained successful throughout the 1940s and at one point was Hollywood's highest-paid actress, by the end of the decade, her popularity had peaked. She reunited with Astaire in 1949 in the commercially successful The Barkleys of Broadway. After an unsuccessful period through the 1950s, Rogers made a successful return to Broadway in 1965, playing the lead role in Hello, Dolly!. More lead roles on Broadway followed, along with her stage directorial debut in 1985 on an off-Broadway production of Babes in Arms. Rogers also made television acting appearances until 1987. In 1992, Rogers was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors. She died of a heart attack in 1995, at the age of 83.
Rogers is associated with the phrase "backwards and in high heels", the title of her memoir, attributed to Bob Thaves' Frank and Ernest cartoon with the caption "Sure he [Astaire] was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did... backwards and in high heels". A Republican and a devout Christian Scientist, Rogers was married five times, with all of her marriages ending in divorce; she was childless. During her long career, Rogers made 73 films, and her musical films with Fred Astaire are credited with revolutionizing their genre. Rogers was successful during the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is often considered an American icon. She ranks number 14 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list of female stars of classic American cinema.