Home Adele Astaire
Adele Astaire PDF Print E-mail

b. September 10 1897, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
d. January 25, 1981, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Fred's older sister and dancing partner in vaudeville and in all but the last of his Broadway shows


Dear Dellie! Fred's older sister, his first dancing partner, his devoted sister, and his best friend. She looked like an angel, sang like a nightingale and swore like a sailor. She had natural talent in abundance, much more than Fred, but little of his perfectionism. Together they were a great team; They conquered the vaudeville circuits of America, made the jump to Broadway in their teens and mastered the Great White Way, too; They crossed the ocean and conquered England, and hobnobbed with royalty; and eventually Adele retired from the theatrical life at thirty to marry Lord Charles Cavendish, second son of the Duke of Devonshire, and live with him in Lismore Castle in County Waterford, Ireland.

Twice she lost her children- a girl and twin boys- shortly after childbirth, and was widowed, but her spirit remained forever undaunted. She later remarried Kingman Douglass, an officer who was chief of intelligence for the Eight Air Force, whom she met while working for the Red Cross in London during the war, and returned in the USA to live in Arizona. After his death she moved between Ireland and Arizona.

People talk of her terrific wit, her warmth, her kindness, her temper, and her tongue, with which she could "verbally paralyse a longshoreman without shedding an ounce of dignity." She captivated anyone who met her, be it kings or peasants, and had unquenchable spirit.

My Favourite Adele Story, from Turn Left At The Black Cow by Richard McKenzie

   Fred agreed to play a game of Scrabble with Adele. Her idea of words suitable to a Scrabble board differed from most players, but she agreed to behave herself and the game went smoothly until Fred noticed the letters she was placing out. C - U - N -
   "Dellie!" Fred yelled. "YOU PROMISED!"
   "What did he know?" Dellie later demanded of [Fred's daughter] Ava, with a wicked glint in her eyes. "I could have been spelling anything! Like cunnilingus."

Fred and Adele's stories are undeniably intertwined; for more on Adele, read Fred's autobiography Steps in Time, any good biography of Fred, or Richard McKenzie's memoirs, Turn Left At The Black Cow. See the books section.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 09:40