If you love dancing and Fred Astaire, you’ve got to read John Franceschina’s new book, Hermes Pan, The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire, published last summer. Ava Astaire McKenzie, one of its reviewers, calls the book “wonderfully informative ” in a quote that also reveals her esteem for her father’s lifelong friend: “I have always considered Hermes Pan to be my ‘other father,’” she says.
Hermes Pan first met Astaire at RKO in 1933 when the Great Depression was in full swing. Pan was just 24 and penniless. According to Franceschina’s story, Pan, his mother, and his sister were in such desperate financial straits that they were forced to pack heir belongings repeatedly, moving from house to another in the wee hours of the night.
As the story goes, Pan first worked with Astaire at a salary of $75.00/week. These were the days before the title ‘choreographer’ existed, so Pan’s first assignment was as Astaire’s creative ‘sounding board’ on Flying Down to Rio (1933). The book also traces Pan's work with such famous stars as Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra, among others. He remained Astaire’s lifelong friend and choreographer through Astaire’s final film, Finian’s Rainbow (1968).
Combining extensive research with plenty of illustrations, the 300+-page book traces Pan’s history from his late 19th-century Greek roots throughout his career, delving deeply into his unique relationship with Astaire. Readers with a passion for Fred Astaire, dance, musical theater and dance history in television and film will love it! Click this link to New York Social Diary's website to learn more about Pan and why this biography promises such a fascinating read.