Childhood & Early Life
Born as Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri, Ginger Rogers was the only child of William Eddins McMath, an electrical engineer and Lela Emogene.
After her parents got divorced, she stayed with her mother and grandparents. Her mother later remarried John Logan Rogers and the family settled in Fort Worth, Texas.
She attended the Central High School in Fort Worth, Texas but dropped out from school and during her teenage years performed on stage in Majestic Theatre, where her mother was also involved in.
She first took to stage performance in 1926, after winning a dance competition. Following this, she made appearances at the ‘The Craterian’ theatre located in Oregon.
She became a member of the vaudeville troupe called ‘Ginger and Pepper’ and made her debut on Broadway musical show ‘Top Speed’ on December 25, 1929.
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In May 1930, she appeared in the film ‘Young Man of Manhattan’, directed by Monta Bell. One of her dialogues from the film, ‘Cigarette me, big boy’, became very popular.
Later in 1930, she played the role of ‘Polly Rockwell’ in the musical comedy film ‘Queen High’, directed by Fred C. Newmeyer. The same year, she was seen in the Broadway musical ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘The Sap from Syracuse’ and ‘Follow the Leader’.
In 1932, she was seen in the American mystery film, ‘The Thirteenth Guest’, in which she played the role of ‘Marie Morgan’. The same year she was also seen in the films ‘Hat Check Girl’, ‘The Tenderfoot’ and ‘You Said a Mouthful’.
In 1933, she appeared in the Academy Award nominated Warner Bros. musical film ‘42nd Street’, which was based on Bradford Ropes novel of the same name. The film got immense success at the box office.
In the early 1930s, she also appeared in the comedy-horror film ‘A Shriek in the Night’, ‘Don't Bet on Love’, the musical comedy ‘Sitting Pretty’, and ‘Rafter Romance’.
In 1934, she played the role of ‘Peggy Cornell’ in the musical comedy film ‘Twenty Million Sweethearts’, which was directed by Ray Enright. That year she also acted in ‘Change of Heart’, ‘Upperworld’, ‘The Gay Divorcee’ and ‘Romance in Manhattan’.
In 1935, she acted in ‘Roberta’, a film in which she played an unaccredited role. The same year, she also appeared in ‘Star of Midnight’, an American mystery-comedy and ‘Top Hat’, in which she played the role of ‘Dale Tremont’.
In 1940, she starred in the Academy Award winning film ‘Kitty Foyle’, which was based on Christopher Morley’s novel of the same name. That year, she was also seen in the films ‘Primrose Path’ and ‘Lucky Partners’.
On November 27, 1942, she was seen in the Academy Award nominated romantic comedy-drama film ‘Once Upon a Honeymoon’, which was directed by Leo McCarey.
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In 1944, she starred in the Academy Award nominated film ‘Lady in the Dark’, directed by Mitchell Leisen. That year she was also seen in the William Dieterle film ‘I'll Be Seeing You’.
In 1945, she played the role of ‘Irene Malvern’ in the Robert Z. Leonard comedy-drama film, ‘Week-End at the Waldorf’. The film was a success at the box office and that following year she also acted in ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Magnificent Doll’.
In 1947, she played the role of ‘Victoria Stafford’ in the romantic-comedy film ‘It Had to Be You’, directed by Don Hartman and Rudolph Mat�. The film was moderately successful but the musical tracks in the film became popular.
In 1949, she starred in the Academy Award nominated musical film ‘The Barkleys of Broadway’, which received mixed critical reviews but got an overall positive response.
After the 1950s, she also appeared in many TV series’ including the award-winning ‘The DuPont Show with June Allyson’, an anthology drama series that was broadcast on CBS.
She was also seen in the TV show ‘What’s My Line?’ It was a panel game show on CBS. She also featured in the TV shows ‘The Love Boat’, ‘Glitter’ and ‘Hotel’.
In 1964, she was seen in the Broadway musical ‘Hello Dolly!’, which was one of the hit musical shows of that year. It was based on the play, ‘The Matchmaker’, written by Thornton Wilder.
In 1965, she made her last appearance in the fictionalised biographical-drama film ‘Harlow’, based on the life of American film actress ‘Jean Harlow’. The film was a commercial failure.
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Personal Life & Legacy
She married five times but unfortunately all of her marriages ended in divorce. She was married to Jack Pepper, Lew Ayres, Jack Briggs, Jacques Bergerac and William Marshall.
She died at the age of 83 after suffering a heart attack at her home in Rancho Mirage, California. Her ashes were entombed at the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery, located in Chatsworth, California.
In 2007, her biographical musical titled ‘Backwards in High Heels’ opened in Florida. The musical was a tribute to her life and legacy.