Adele Astaire Douglass, 83, the sister of Fred Astaire and his first professional dancing partner, died Sunday in a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a stroke.
Mrs. Douglass was born in Omaha, Neb., and moved to New York City with her brother to study dance and appear in vaudeville. In 1917, they made their New York vaudeville debut in "Over The Top."
She and her brother appeared in several 1920s musical comedies, including, "Stop Flirting," "The Bandwagon," and two major hits by George Gershwin, "Lady Be Good," and "Funny Face."
Mrs. Douglass left the stage at the peak of her career in 1932 to marry a British nobleman, Lord Charles Cavendish, and went to Ireland to live with him.
Shortly after this marriage she said, "Women gain wisdom more quickly than men; their wisdom enables them to fend off age with greater ease to retain their independence and individuality. They should never tie themselves up to husbands older than themselves. That is an old-fashioned custom and should be discarded."
Cavendish, three years her junior, died in 1944. In 1947 she married Kingman Douglass in Warrenton, Va., and went to live in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Douglass died in 1971.
Mrs. Douglass may have left the stage, but she was not forgotten. In 1945, a critic wrote, "Many a fan who saw her still mourns Adele's passing from the stage. For the Astaires were the most adroit and versatile dance team the United States theater ever knew."
In 1972, the opening of the Uris Theater featured the Astaires' first appearance on Broadway together in more than 40 years.
Other than her brother, who is now 81, Mrs. Douglass leaves no immediate survivors.