“Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels” --Faith Whittlesey
From an early age, she was referred to as "Ginja," which came from a young cousin who was unable to pronounce "Virginia." Rogers' parents split shortly after she was born, which resulted in an acrimonious custody battle. Later, her mother married John Logan Rogers and although never formally adopted by Rogers, Ginger took his surname as her own. The bubbly child was interested in dance from an early age, performing frequently at local charity shows and school productions, but her passion truly blossomed when her mother brought her along to various stage productions. There, Rogers reportedly danced and sang along with the performers. At the end of her Broadway run, she dove into motion pictures, making four pictures in 1930 alone.
Ginger Rogers had achieved stardom on Broadway before she was 20, and began making feature films shortly thereafter, but it was her collaborations with Astaire (in which they made 10 screen musicals together) that elevated her from movie star to screen icon. Their dance routines were the epitome of class and grace, as well as possessing a chaste sexiness that transcended the censorial limitations of the period. Astaire himself would credit her as one of his best screen partners, but their films together were just the start of her long and storied career.
Astaire was a notorious perfectionist who often drove stage and screen partners to distraction with his endless rehearsals. But Rogers proved to be not only his most enduring co-star, but also his most durable. Though she was an accomplished dancer, she lacked certain skills like tap that would be essential of their subsequent collaborations. She was, however, always so doggedly determined to succeed, a gift from her ambitious mother that helped her to master difficult steps and routines, and she proved herself to be a talented actress who was able to convey romance, grace and poise through physical presence and facial expression. Her determination and talent helped create a combination of movement and performance that elevated Rogers and Astaire's 33 paired routines to the vanguard of style in Hollywood dance and provide the ultimate escapism for audiences suffering through the Great Depression.
Her films ranged from comedies like "Stage Door" (1937), Monkey Business (1952), Vivacious Lady (1938), to dramas like Kitty Foyle (1940), which gained her Oscar's Best Actress win for her role as a headstrong girl determined to find happiness. Though her movie career declined in the early 1950s, Rogers remained a star on Broadway and nightclubs for another two decades, as well as a welcome figure on television, where she regaled audiences with stories of her past work. Rogers' star never truly dimmed, both in her lifetime and after it, and her screen presence, whether in the arms of Astaire or on her own, remained one of Hollywood's greatest treasures.
(copied from TCM. Click to read more of her short bio)
Full name: Virginia Katherine McMath
Born: July 16, 1911 in Independence, Missouri
Died: April 25, 1995 in Rancho Mirage, California from congestive heart failure
Parents: Lela Emogene Owens and William Eddins McMath
Siblings: none. She was an only child
Religious view: Christian Science
Hair: dark chestnut dyed blonde
Height: 5'4'' (1.64 m)
Spouse(s): Jack Pepper (1929-1931)
Lew Ayres (1934-1941)
Jack Briggs (1943-1949)
Jacques Bergerac (1953-1957)
William Marshall (1961-1969)
1941 - Golden Apple Award -- Sour Apple in which she shared with Fred Astaire
1960 - Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for Motion Picture at 6772 Hollywood Blvd.
1970 - Berlin International Film Festival C.I.D.A.L.C. Silver Medal Award for her outstanding achievement as a dancer and actress
1991 - Houston International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
1940 - Academy Award for Best Actress for the film Kitty Foyle
1953 - Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress--musical/comedy for Monkey Business
*See more awards and nominations for Ginger here and here