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|"I danced with Fred Astaire
before he danced with Ginger Rogers"
Hazel Hanson won a dancing competition in the1920's just after the First World War had ended and well before the Second one began.
The presenter of the prize was none other than Fred Astaire. He was so impressed with her dancing prowess that he said "I think we should do a little dance together, don't you? Just follow me."
She then did a short routine with him at the Savoy Hotel in London. Hazel told Hillingdon On-line, "I was almost on my knees with excitement."
Hazel went on to have a career in theatre and film appearing with a range of stars including Ida Lupino and is now enjoying retirement in Uxbridge with her husband John. She spoke of some of the Famous people she knew - many associated with the film industry which was booming in West London. Ralph Reader - who for many of us will be remembered for "The Gang Shows" was a terrific dancer and was a well known choreographer.
Hazel appeared in films with Gracie Fields and Archie Pitt including "Looking on the Bright Side" (1932) and with Stanley Lupino in "Sleepless Nights" (1933)
Her stage career included appearing with Vic Oliver in the West End in "Idiot's Delight" where she understudied the leading actress and had to step in when the lead was taken ill for some weeks.
If the stars' names are new to you can look them up on the Internet Movie Database at www.imdb.com
Fred Astaire (10 May 1899 - 22 June 1987) appeared in 52 films and was associated with 9 others in a technical capacity up to 2 years before his death.
Gracie Fields (9 Jan 1898 - 27 Sep 1979) 17 films: 1930's to 50s
Ida Lupino (4 Feb 1918 - 3 Aug 1995) 70 films spanning the 30's to the 70's
Stanley Lupino (15 May 1893 - 1942) 13 films in the 1930s
Vic Oliver (8 July 1898 - 15 August 1964) 9 films in the 30s and 40s and was Winston Churchill's son-in-law
Archie Pitt (Dates not known) 3 films 1930s
Ralph Reader (25 May 1903 - 13 May 1982) Choreographed or Dance Directed 3 films in the1930s and appeared in person in many musicals from the 30's to the 50's also known for The Gang Show
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