Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


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Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly

"Singin' in the Rain" was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001 for Outstanding Musical Production, with choreography by Kelly.

Ray Bradbury's novel "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was dedicated to Kelly.

Tony Martin the husband of MGM star/dancer Cyd Charisse said he could tell who she had been dancing with that day on an MGM set. If she came home covered with bruises on her, it was the very physically-demanding Gene Kelly, if not it was the smooth and agile Fred Astaire.

Bob Fosse originally wanted him for a lead role in a musical film adaptation of the Maurine Dallas Watkins play "Chicago" around the early 1970s. He eventually gave up the choice, and Fosse opted to do a stage musical instead.

Attended Peabody High School in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, Pa.



Attended Penn State University before transferring to University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated.

Awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 309-312. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 510-515. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.

During World War II he was a sailor stationed at the U S Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, DC (where the documentary "Victory at Sea" (1952) was later assembled for NBC-TV). He starred in several Navy films while on active duty there and in "civilian" films while on leave.

Famed producer David O. Selznick signed Gene to his first Hollywood contract after seeing him star in "Pal Joey" while on Broadway. Though Gene had had other offers from studios, he chose to sign with Selznick mostly because his was the only studio that did not insist on a screen test before signing him. Selznick sold Kelly's contact to MGM before he could find a suitable role for him to appear in.

Graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in economics.

Had a fever of 103 degrees while filming the famous rain scene in Singin' in the Rain (1952).

Had a half-moon shaped scar on his left cheek caused by a bicycle accident he had as a young boy.

Had three children: Kerry Kelly, with Betsy Blair, in 1942, and Bridget Kelly and Tim Kelly, with Jeanne Coyne, in the 1960s.

He and his younger brother Fred Kelly appeared together in a dancing vaudeville act. When Gene got his big break as Harry the hoofer in the dramatic Broadway production of "The Time of Your Life" in 1942, he was eventually replaced by brother Fred, who took it on the road and won a Donaldson award for his efforts.

He and MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer shared a long standing feud stemming from even before Kelly entered the motion picture business. One evening after seeing Gene perform in "Pal Joey" on Broadway, Mayer met Kelly backstage and offered to sign him to MGM without a screen test. When Kelly later received a call from a MGM representative requesting a screen test, he insisted there was some sort of mistake saying he had Mayer's word he did not have to make one and told the rep to ask Mayer himself. When the rep did, he called back days later stating that he did talk to Mayer and that he still had to make a test. Gene was furious and wrote a scathing letter to Mayer for retracting his promise. For the first couple of years he worked for Mayer, Kelly was uncertain that Mayer even read the letter until Louis brought it up in an argument one evening.

He was voted the 42nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

He wore a hairpiece (toupee).

His death is mentioned in the Dream Theater song "Take away my Pain" from their album Falling into Infinity released in 1997 with the lyric "he said look at poor Gene Kelly, I guess he won't be singing in the rain".

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