Listening to Garrison Keillor recently as he noted that day was the birthday of Fred Astaire, Keillor reported one of the reviewers in an early screen test evaluated Astaire as follows: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.” That is, on research, somewhat Hollywood lore, but it is apparently documented that David O. Selznick, who signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the screen test, stated afterwards in a memo, “I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.”
After the initial laugh, it occurs to me in this that in life I am no more prescient than the reviewers noted above. That is, in my judgments of people, trends, and talent (which amazingly continue despite my abysmal “batting average”) I sometimes manage to perceive just enough of the reality to make myself comically wrong.