Did you know your favorite household item has quite some experience in film?
1951: Fred Astaire is given an unprecedented two solo dances in the film Royal Wedding, one of which was performed with a coatrack. The famous number with this infamous dancemate was set to the song “Sunday Jumps,” and was itself a parody of his own style of dancing in which Astaire and the coatrack both stood for Astaire. In spite of its lively performance and apt interpretation, the coatrack was neither listed in the credits nor considered a real dance partner.
1981: Muppet Kermit the Frog pays tribute to Fred Astaire’s coatrack dance by realistically laboring in animating the piece of furniture. Subsequent acrobatics of Kermit and fellow Muppets approximate other signature Astaire moves though arguably to less impressive effect. The coatrack is forgotten after the brief number.
1997: Ava Astaire publicly criticizes Dirt Devil for editing footage of her father’s dance for a commercial in which the star coatrack is replaced with a vacuum. Ava Astaire wrote to the corporation’s President: “Your paltry, unconscionable commercials are the antithesis of everything my lovely, gentle father represented.” Thus the coatrack proves itself culturally indispensable, in a way.
See Carel Visser’s horse-hooved “Speed Six” coat rack from Robert Wilson’s Collection sale here, on through the 31st.