Monday, December 31, 2007

A pretty pass: Fred Astaire and the sarsaparilla soda

If guests didn't feel like getting liquored up at this year's NotBillable Christmas party, they had their choice of Coke, Diet Coke, cranberry juice or sarsaparilla soda, and even though ages ranged from 26 to 70, the reaction to the sarsaparilla was uniform: "I thought they only drank that in old movies." Fred Astaire was mentioned repeatedly. Several people grabbed a bottle for that very reason.

After a while, I thought to myself that it had to be because of the tomato-tomahto song. Right? Specifically the lyric, "you like vanilla, I like vanella. You sarsaparilla, I sarsaparella." But look: Astaire never sings that line. It's the later versions—probably Ella Fitzgerald's—that made that particular verse famous. It's somehow become associated with Astaire after all these years. And God bless him, it's still selling the sarsaparilla.

Oh. And if you watch the video, double check something for me. It looks like Fred and Ginger skate for almost a minute and half before there's an edit. From 3:12 to 4:54. That's just—I don't know what that is. Stunning?

5 comments:

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Sarsparilla! So THAT'S what I'll tote to the party tonite. (Notice how many people don't drink anymore?) Thanks for this suggestion, Irene. And, hey, happy new year.

Make the logo bigger said...
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Make the logo bigger said...

Studied him once as part of a film class. He was relentless to the point of doing scenes over and over non-stop, correcting things nobody else noticed, so I can believe here that it’s one take.

In some of his other routines you also notice his ability at the end of scenes to become completely still, almost relaxed, and hold awkward poses for a long time, even after complicated dance numbers.

Or maybe it was Paula Abdul.

Irene Done said...

Fred Astaire is one of my favoritest faves. Even how he moved his hands is amazing.

And you know, Ad Broad may be on to something -- maybe less people are drinking. If you come up with an interesting non-boozy drink -- something with a story -- people are just as happy to try it as any cocktail.