Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri, in 1911. Her father had abandoned her mother, but Lela McMath worked hard to make sure that Ginger would never feel this loss. Lela married John Rogers after World War I. The family eventually settled in Fort Worth, Texas, where Lela became the theatrical reviewer for a local newspaper. Vaudeville was in its heyday, and Lela, with Ginger at her side, became well acquainted with the stars and managers of the period. Small opportunities to perform whetted Ginger’s appetite. By the time she was fourteen, she and her mother were on the vaudeville circuit themselves, the result of Ginger’s winning a Texas Charleston contest. Her first brief marriage at age seventeen never stopped the forward motion of her career. By 1929 she had starred in her first Broadway musical, GIRL CRAZY, while simultaneously making a number of movies.
When GIRL CRAZY closed, Ginger headed for Hollywood, a signed movie contract in her pocket. Her secondary role in FLYING DOWN TO RIO with Fred Astaire in 1933 provided the impetus for the ten musicals Ginger made with Fred—performances which made her a star. Of the seventy-three films she eventually made, most were not musicals. In fact, her Academy Award was for the distinctly dramatic title role in KITTY FOYLE. In later years she returned to the musical stage, starring in HELLO, DOLLY! and MAME, making television appearances, and traveling with her own musical review.
In GINGER: MY STORY, Ginger Rogers has taken the opportunity to tell about her life in her own way. Her unswerving devotion to her mother, her deep involvement in the Christian Science religion, her self-discipline, hard work, and professionalism all played a vital role in her success. Although she had five unsuccessful marriages and experienced difficulties with directors, managers, and studio bosses, she never deviated from her personal standards of taste and morality. Her book offers many insights into her life and the theatrical world in which she lived and worked.