The Friends of Eastgate House showed the wonderful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film 'The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle'. This film has a wonderful link back to Medway. In the early 1900's, the Goodman Brothers opened music halls in Strood and Gillingham called 'The Gem'. Coley Goodman's brother-in-law was a civil engineer called Vernon Blythe. The Blythe's and the Goodman's visited America in 1906 and Vernon fell in love with the place.
He got a job as a comic actor and changed his name to Vernon Castle. He met his future wife Irene and they went on to become the toast of Broadway inventing numerous iconic dances and fashions including Irene introducing American women to 'the bob' hairstyle. This was a really charming film. It was the last Fred and Ginger musical for RKO Studios and their only film based on a true/biographical story.
It was a magical evening, with footage of the original Vernon and Irene dancing, the same steps and routines were incorporated into the Fred and Ginger film.
Susan Haydock, Chairman
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