Fred Astaire takes Ginger Rogers’ hand in 1933’s Flying Down to Rio. “I’d like to try this thing once,” he tells her. “C’mon, Honey.” As she heads to the dance floor, Ginger quips, “We’ll show them a thing or three!”

Did they ever! A moment later, the pair perform a joyful Latin-tinged number laced with humor that stole the movie from its star, Dolores del Rio. Fred and Ginger’s pairing delighted audiences and began a lifelong partnership that would span 33 dances, 10 films and, according to Ginger, one very R-rated offscreen kiss!

But after Rio, Fred bristled against working with Ginger again. He had spent his childhood in vaudeville overshadowed by his older sister, Adele, and didn’t want to be so closely associated with another partner again.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Became Lifelong Friends After a Passionate Kiss Inside His Rolls-Royce

“I did not go into pictures to be teamed with her or anyone else,” he wrote his agent. Fred’s wife and manager, Phyllis, also didn’t like it. “She came from society,” biographer Joseph Epstein says. “She thought of Ginger as being beneath her.”

Phyllis might have had another reason for disliking Ginger.

In her 1991 memoir, Ginger: My Story, she recounts a date with a then-single Fred shortly after he choreographed her in the 1930 Broadway show Girl Crazy.

The pair’s night of dinner and dancing ended when Fred took Ginger home in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. “Inside the car, Fred had me in his arms, and the kiss that we shared in that five minutes would never have passed the Hays Office code!” Ginger wrote.

Their romance didn’t last, but the echo of it remained in their chemistry on the dance floor and their lifelong friendship. “She made everything work for her,” Fred gushed about Ginger later in life. “Actually, she made things very fine for both of us, and she deserves most of the credit for our success.”