A Lesson for Boomer Men from Fred Astaire

Ever watch TCM – you know, the channel with all the wonderful old movies?

I do, and recently tuned in for what I thought would be a delightful movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron called Daddy Longlegs – a charming romantic comedy!

Actually, not really.  In it, Mr. Astaire who at the time was 56 and pretending to be 10 years younger, falls in love with Ms. Caron who at the time was 24 and not pretending at all (OK she pretends to be 16 in the film’s opening, but ends up being about her real age at the end).  Throughout the movie, Mr. Astaire’s character goes on about how inappropriate it is for a middle-aged man to court a woman young enough to be his daughter; the script has him saying just that, in fact.  But, he’s a scillionaire, she’s a poor orphan from France – let the dancing and woo’ing commence!


Then came the bolt of a realization – here’s where it started: where Boomer men got the idea that it’s charming at middle-age to go after a fresh-out-of-college babe; in the movies of our youth, Fred did; Cary did it; Gary (Cooper) did it, Clark did it…  With these Hollywood icons from yesteryear as their role-models, Boomer men actually believe themselves justified to engage in such behavior… You may not dance like Fred, or look like Cary, but you sure took that 50’s/60’s films ethic to heart!  Hey, guys, in 60’s TV, couples slept in separate twin beds…. hope you’re doing that, too.

Ah, but here’s the lesson from Fred Astaire.  He didn’t like the plot line at all, and wanted the studio to change the ending to one in which he does not become her lover…more in-line with his own ethics, according to Film Historian and TCM host Robert Osborne.  They didn’t, of course, but he made his feelings known to the studio (something the general public doesn’t know).

Good for you, Fred!

That’s acting like a grown-up.

29 thoughts on “A Lesson for Boomer Men from Fred Astaire

  1. and Astaire left RKO. Rogers remained and went on to become the studio’s hottest property in the early forties. They were reunited in 1949 at MGM for their final outing, The Barkleys of Broadway .

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