In this video age, it is perhaps the ultimate tribute. Video stores around Washington yesterday reported a heavy demand for the movies of Fred Astaire. Requests for his classics came from everywhere -- from such media as "Nightline" and Reuter news service, which quickly began preparing retrospectives onAstaire's life, to film fans who had been sadly reminded of the elegant hoofer when news of his death spread yesterday morning.

"It's a little bit of everybody," said Leslie Odonovitch, owner of Graffiti Video, a Dupont Circle store specializing in old movies. "They're asking for everything, but seem most interested in anything with Ginger Rogers." A particular favorite: 1937's "Shall We Dance?"

Erol's Inc. video stores had titles in stock, but were expecting to get a lot of calls as people found out about the dancer's death. "It's terrible to say, but this always happens after someone famous dies," said Linda Barnes of Erol's, noting the increase in sales and rentals after Danny Kaye and Rock Hudson died recently. "It reminds people of how great those people are, how much they loved watching them."

Still, Astaire's videos have been consistently popular, noted Odonovitch, whose 25 Astaire titles are rented regularly. "It's funny, but people take them out for their children, who enjoy his singing and dancing," she said. "The kids seem to love him."