5 Little Facts: Happy Birthday to Gene Kelly

5 Little Facts: Happy Birthday to Gene Kelly

gene-kelly protrait

Celebrating Gene Kelly’s birthday 🙂


1) It wasn’t exactly Rain he was singing in…


Considering it’s Kelly’s most famous of all dance numbers, you’d think it’d be rain that the legendary song and dance man was singing in, but, in reality it was something more than that. You see, in 1952, technicolor film had a very difficult time picking up falling water on screen. To solve this problem studios would add milk to the rain water, tinting the water white and making it able to visually register on the film. Singing in the Milk…yeah. Doesn’t have the same sort of ring to it, does it?


2) More than a triple threat, he also was on the creative cutting edge…

anchors away

Although primarily remembered for his purely performance contributions to the medium of film, Gene Kelly was also quite the innovator when it came to the very form of film itself. His 1945 musical, Anchors Aweigh, was the first musical to mix live action and animation when he decided to dance with Jerry the Mouse in the musical number The Worry Song. About a decade later, in 1956, he would again flex his innovation muscles, directing the experimental feature film Invitation to the Dance. The film contained no dialogue or typical character interactions as the narrative was completely unfolded via dance.


3) Maybe he was too much of a perfectionist…


The screen persona of Kelly was nothing sort of joyous affability but behind the scenes was, well, different…very different. A perfectionist to the bone, Kelly developed something of a reputation of being quite a tyrant on set, working his co-stars to the bone. Singin’ in the Rain co-star Debbie Reynolds would go on to call childbirth and filming Singin’ in the Rain as the most difficult parts of her life. But, really, who can argue with results?


4) For Gene Kelly, ball was life…


An athlete since birth, Kelly excelled at a myriad of sports in his youth. He was particularly fond of  baseball and originally dreamed of the playing professionally on the dirt diamond before moving to the dance floor. His dream was to play shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.


5)  When to comes to the Academy Awards, he’s in good company

honorary oscar

Much like Alfred Hitckcock, Stanley Kubrick and the long suffering Leonardo Dicaprio, Gene Kelly never won a competitive Oscar. He was, however, awarded an Honorary Academy Award  “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”


Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

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3 Responses to 5 Little Facts: Happy Birthday to Gene Kelly

  1. Dorothy Winnett says:

    Absolutely fascinating I love it, thanks for sharing ♥

  2. Rick says:

    Very fun! I’d like to see TCM give INVITATION TO THE DANCE the prime slot (you know, 8 PM ET) on its next Gene Kelly day. It’s a film that usually gets shown in the wee hours. As for “Singin’ in the Milk,” I think I like it. I really do.

  3. Sweet Sue says:

    Milk in the rain has been debunked. Gene Kelly was a bona fide American genius.

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