Movie Stars Parade
February 1941


JUST LIKE A MOVIE has been the real life of Virginia Katherine McMath—our own Ginger Rogers. While her father, Eddins McMath, found holding a job difficult her mother,” Lela Owens McMath, earned a scanty living as piano player in a nickelodeon. Lela left McMath, and shortly thereafter, he kidnapped the year-old Ginger and fled with her to a Texas swamp. There Lela traced them and brought her baby home—only to have her kidnapped again. When Ginger was three the McMaths were divorced; Ginger’s father died a few years later.

Although Ginger first came to world-wide fame as a dancing star, she was one of those babies whose anxious parents wonder whether they’ll never learn to walk. The tiny redhead (her hair is still really a sandy red) could talk well enough to call her mother “Mommy Mac” at the age of ten months, she wasn’t able to navigate under her own power until she had reached the ripe old age of a year and a quarter.

When Ginger was five, the fate that marked her for stardom in pictures took a hand; Lela McMath sold a story to Hollywood. She got a contract to write for Fox films and, by an odd coincidence, one of her first stories was for-Baby Marie Osborne, who later became Ginger’s stand-in.

Ginger got a brand new father, John Rogers, in 1920, and his insurance business took the little family to Fort Worth, Texas, where Lela became dramatic reviewer for the Fort Worth Record. Thirteen-year-old Ginger was fascinated by backstage life, as any youngster would be, and in 1925 took part in a Charleston contest run by the vaudeville team of Santry & Seymour in a Dallas hotel. Ginger and a boy stayed through the state-wide finals and won a stage contract at $100 a week.

When the contract expired, Ginger picked two other red-headed girls from the contestants and played vaudeville dates with them for 22 weeks, n 1928, Ginger was at the Paramount theater in Dallas; across the street Jack Pepper (whose real name was Culpepper) was getting top billing at a rival theater. They met and soon were married in New Orleans, La. She was only sixteen or seventeen and he was nearly twice her age; they were divorced in 1931.

She reached Broadway in her first big show, Top Speed, on her mother’s birthday, Christmas, in 1930, and followed it with Girl Crazy, during the rehearsals of which she first met Fred Astaire. It was about this time that Hollywood really began to notice her. The notice was manifested by a 3-film Pathe contract in 1931. Then along came Flying Down To Rio. Hundred of girls were tested for the part of Astaire’s dancing partner. Ginger got the job. With her success as a musical star assured she turned to dramatic acting and has done all right there, too. Her favorite sport is tennis, color, blue; food, chicken. She ikes to read and is an ardent film fan. In 1934 while in a picture together, she met and married Lew Ayres. They were divorced in 1940.

Born at Independence, Mo., on July 16, .1911. Lived in Missouri and Texas; educated in local public schools. Married twice (Jack Culpepper & Lew Ayres); divorced twice. She is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 115 pounds, has green eyes, sandy red-blonde hair, now dyed dark.