US actor, dancer, and singer. She worked from the 1930s to the 1950s, often starring with Fred Astaire in such films as Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936). Her other film work includes Bachelor Mother (1939) and Kitty Foyle (1940; Academy Award). She later appeared in stage musicals.
Rogers first appeared with Astaire when both had secondary roles in Flying Down to Rio (1933). Their dance numbers together made them the most celebrated dance duo in screen history.
Rogers was born in Independence, Missouri. She became a dancer in vaudeville, partly on the strength of winning a charleston competition. From New York nightclub appearances she graduated to Broadway shows, including Crazy for You (1930). She moved to Hollywood and had small parts in various films, typically, as in 42nd Street (1933), as a wisecracking member of the chorus line.
Although Rogers's aspirations to dramatic roles were vindicated by her winning an Academy Award for playing the title role in Kitty Foyle (1940), comedy remained her forte, and she seemed more at home in such films as Roxie Hart (1942) and The Major and the Minor (1942).
In the years after World War II her screen career started to decline. Despite a popularly received reunion with Astaire in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), few of her subsequent films achieved much impact. Her last screen role was as Jean Harlow's mother in the low-budget Harlow (1965), but she subsequently enjoyed considerable success in the theatre. Having already starred in US touring productions of such shows as Annie Get Your Gun, she took over the lead in 1966 in the Broadway musical Hello, Dolly!, and in London in 1969 played the lead in Mame.
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