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Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly

Overview
Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly (August 23, 1912 February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen.

Although he is known today for his performances in Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography...

 and An American in Paris
An American in Paris (film)
An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner...

, he was a dominant force in Hollywood musical films from the mid 1940s until this art form fell out of fashion in the late 1950s.
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Quotations

At 14, I discovered girls. At that time, dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship. Only later did I discover that you dance joy. You dance love. You dance dreams.

I didn't want to be a dancer... I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally.

I [was] twenty pounds overweight and as strong as an ox. But if I put on a white tails and tux like Astaire, I still looked like a truck driver... I looked better in a sweatshirt and loafers anyway. It wasn't elegant, but it was me.

I wasn't very nice to Debbie. It's a wonder she still speaks to me.

On his behavior towards Debbie Reynolds|Debbie Reynolds on the set of Singin' in the Rain.

If Fred Astaire is the Cary Grant of dance, I'm the Marlon Brando.

In the 1930s, when I started, Martha Graham|Martha Graham was the only dancer doing anything modern, but she did it all to classical music. I couldn't see myself doing Swan Lake every night, and I wanted to develop a truly American style. The only dancer in the movies at that time with any success was Fred Astaire, but he did very small, elegant steps in a top hat, white tie, and tails.

The way I look at a musical, you are commenting on the human condition no matter what you do. A musical may be light and frivolous, but by its very nature, it makes some kind of social comment.

Encyclopedia
Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly (August 23, 1912 February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen.

Although he is known today for his performances in Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography...

 and An American in Paris
An American in Paris (film)
An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner...

, he was a dominant force in Hollywood musical films from the mid 1940s until this art form fell out of fashion in the late 1950s. His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical film, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences.

Kelly was the recipient of an Academy Honorary Award
Academy Honorary Award
The Academy Honorary Award, instituted in 1948 for the 21st Academy Awards , is given by the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to celebrate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards, although prior winners of...

 in 1952 for his career achievements. He later received lifetime achievement awards in the Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

, and from the Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild
The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

 and American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

; in 1999, the American Film Institute also numbered him 15th in their Greatest Male Stars of All Time
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars
Part of the AFI 100 Years... series, AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is a list of the top 50 greatest screen legends of American cinema, 25 male and 25 female...

 list.

Early life



He was the third son of James Kelly, a phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

 salesman, and Harriet Curran, who were both children of Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 Roman Catholic immigrants. He was born in the Highland Park
Highland Park (Pittsburgh)
Highland Park is both a large municipal park and a racially diverse, mostly residential neighborhood in the northeastern part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The neighborhood has 6,749 residents according to the 2000 United States Census...

 neighborhood of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and, at the age of eight, was enrolled by his mother in dance classes, along with his elder brother James. They both rebelled, and, according to Kelly: "We didn't like it much and were continually involved in fistfights with the neighborhood boys who called us sissies...I didn't dance again until I was fifteen." He thought it would be a good way to get girls. Kelly returned to dance on his own initiative and by then was an accomplished sportsman and well able to take care of himself. He attended St. Raphael Elementary School in the Morningside
Morningside (Pittsburgh)
Morningside is a neighborhood on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's east end. It has two zip codes, 15201 and 15206, and has a representation on Pittsburgh City Council by the council member for District 7 . It is bordered by the neighborhoods of Highland Park to the east, Stanton Heights to the west and...

 neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Peabody High School
Peabody High School
Peabody High School is a public school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, in the neighborhood of East Liberty, The school opened in 1911 after the renovations of a former elementary school and was rededicated after Highland Park doctor Benjamin Peabody. After 100 years in operation the school...

 in 1929 at the age of sixteen. He enrolled in Pennsylvania State College to study journalism but the economic crash obliged him to seek employment to help with the family's finances. At this time, he worked up dance routines with his younger brother Fred in order to earn prize money in local talent contests, and they also performed in local nightclubs.

In 1931, Kelly enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

 to study economics where he joined the Phi Kappa Theta
Phi Kappa Theta
Phi Kappa Theta is a national social fraternity with over 50 chapters and colonies at universities across the United States. "Phi Kaps", as they are commonly referred to colloquially, are known for diversity among their brothers and a dedication to service.-History:Phi Kappa Theta was established...

 fraternity. While at Pitt, Kelly became involved in the university's Cap and Gown Club
University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre
The University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre, or Pitt Rep, is the flagship theatre company for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Theatre Arts. Pitt Rep features students on stage with professional actors and teaching artists staging public performances of classic masterpieces,...

, which staged original, comedic musical productions. Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with his graduation from Pitt in 1933, he remained active with the Cap and Gown Club, serving as its director from 1934 to 1938, while at the same time enrolling in the University of Pittsburgh Law School
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law was founded in 1895, and became a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools in 1900...

. Also during this period, the Kelly's family started a dance studio on Munhall Road in the Squirrel Hill
Squirrel Hill
Squirrel Hill is a residential neighborhood in the east end of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The city officially divides it into two neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill North and Squirrel Hill South, but it is almost universally treated as a single neighborhood...

 neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1930. In 1932, the dance studio was renamed The Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance. A second location was opened in Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown is a city in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States, west-southwest of Altoona, Pennsylvania and east of Pittsburgh. The population was 20,978 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Cambria County...

 in 1933. Kelly served as a teacher at the dance studio during both his undergraduate and law student years at Pitt. In 1931, he was approached by the Rodef Shalom synagogue
Rodef Shalom Temple
Rodef Shalom Temple is a National Register of Historic Places landmark in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania designed by architect Henry Hornbostel.Located on Fifth Avenue on the border of the Oakland and Shadyside neighborhoods, it houses Congregation Rodef Shalom, the oldest Jewish congregation in Western...

 in Pittsburgh to teach dance and stage the annual Kermess and was so successful that his services were retained for seven years until his departure for New York. Eventually, though, he decided to pursue his career as a dance teacher and entertainer full-time and so dropped out of law school after two months. He began to focus increasingly on performing, later claiming: "With time I became disenchanted with teaching because the ratio of girls to boys was more than ten to one, and once the girls reached sixteen the dropout rate was very high." In 1937, having successfully managed and developed the family's dance school business, he moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in search of work as a choreographer.

Stage career


After a fruitless search, Kelly returned to Pittsburgh, to his first position as a choreographer with the Charles Gaynor musical revue Hold Your Hats at the Pittsburgh Playhouse
Pittsburgh Playhouse
Pittsburgh Playhouse is Point Park University's performing arts center located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It houses three performance spaces and is home to The Rep, Point Park's resident professional theatre company, as well as three student companies—Conservatory Theatre Company, Conservatory...

 in April, 1938. Kelly appeared in six of the sketches, one of which, "La Cumparsita", became the basis of an extended Spanish number in Anchors Aweigh
Anchors Aweigh (film)
Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American musical comedy film directed by George Sidney in which two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood, accompanied by music and song, meet an aspiring young singer and try to help her get an audition at MGM...

 eight years later.

His first Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 assignment, in November 1938, was as a dancer in Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Albert Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, he defied the wishes of his domineering grandfather and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn towards musical theatre...

's Leave It to Me!
Leave It to Me!
Leave It to Me! is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The "book" was a collaborative effort by Samuel and Bella Spewack, who also directed the Broadway production. The musical was based on the play Clear All Wires by the Spewacks...

 as the American ambassador's secretary who supports Mary Martin
Mary Martin
Mary Virginia Martin was an American actress and singer. She originated many roles over her career including Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Maria in The Sound of Music. She was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1989...

 while she sings "My Heart Belongs to Daddy
My Heart Belongs to Daddy
"My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is a song written by Cole Porter, for the 1938 musical Leave It to Me! which premiered on Nov 9, 1938. It was performed by Mary Martin who played Dolly Winslow, the young protégée of an elderly ambassador, Alonzo P. Goodhue...

". He had been hired by Robert Alton
Robert Alton
Robert Alton was an American dancer and choreographer, a major figure in dance choreography of Broadway and Hollywood musicals from the 1930s through to the early 1950s...

 who had staged a show at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and been impressed by Kelly's teaching skills. When Alton moved on to choreograph One for the Money he hired Kelly to act, sing and dance in a total of eight routines. In 1939, he was selected to be part of a musical revue "One for the Money" produced by the actress Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York.Cornell is known as the greatest American stage actress of the 20th century...

, who was known for finding and hiring talented young actors.

Kelly's first career breakthrough was in the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened 25 October 1939 at the Booth Theatre in New York City...

, which opened on October 25, 1939, where for the first time on Broadway he danced to his own choreography. In the same year he received his first assignment as a Broadway choreographer, for Billy Rose
Billy Rose
William "Billy" Rose was an American impresario, theatrical showman and lyricist. He is credited with many famous songs, notably "Me and My Shadow" , "It Happened in Monterey" and "It's Only a Paper Moon"...

's Diamond Horseshoe. His future wife, Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair was an American actress of film and stage, long based in London.Blair pursued a career in entertainment from the age of eight, and as a child worked as an amateur dancer, performed on radio, and worked as a model, before joining the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe in 1940...

, was a member of the cast. They began dating and married on October 16, 1941.

In 1940, he was given the leading role in Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart were an American songwriting partnership of composer Richard Rodgers and the lyricist Lorenz Hart...

's Pal Joey, again choreographed by Robert Alton, and this role propelled him to stardom. During its run he told reporters: "I don't believe in conformity to any school of dancing. I create what the drama and the music demand. While I am a hundred percent for ballet technique, I use only what I can adapt to my own use. I never let technique get in the way of mood or continuity." It was at this time also, that his phenomenal commitment to rehearsal and hard work was noticed by his colleagues. Van Johnson
Van Johnson
Van Johnson was an American film and television actor and dancer who was a major star at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios during and after World War II....

 who also appeared in Pal Joey recalled: "I watched him rehearsing, and it seemed to me that there was no possible room for improvement. Yet he wasn't satisfied. It was midnight and we had been rehearsing since eight in the morning. I was making my way sleepily down the long flight of stairs when I heard staccato steps coming from the stage...I could see just a single lamp burning. Under it, a figure was dancing...Gene."

Offers from Hollywood began to arrive but Kelly was in no particular hurry to leave New York. Eventually, he signed with David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick was an American film producer. He is best known for having produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca , both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.-Early years:...

, agreeing to go to Hollywood at the end of his commitment to Pal Joey, in October 1941. Prior to his contract, he also managed to fit in choreographing the stage production of Best Foot Forward
Best Foot Forward (musical)
Best Foot Forward is a 1941 Broadway musical by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, with book by John Cecil Holm. Produced by George Abbott, the production opened on 1 October 1941 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre where it was staged for 326 performances....

.

1941–1944: Becoming established in Hollywood



Selznick sold half of Kelly's contract to MGM
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs. MGM was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer...

 and loaned him out to MGM for his first motion picture: For Me and My Gal
For Me and My Gal (film)
For Me and My Gal is a 1942 American musical film directed by Busby Berkeley and starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly – in his screen debut – and George Murphy, and featuring Martha Eggerth and Ben Blue. The film was written by Richard Sherman, Fred F...

 (1942) with Judy Garland
Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years and for her renowned contralto voice, she attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage...

. Kelly was "appalled at the sight of myself blown up twenty times. I had an awful feeling that I was a tremendous flop" but the picture did well and, in the face of much internal resistance, Arthur Freed
Arthur Freed
Arthur Freed was born Arthur Grossman in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a Jewish American lyricist and a Hollywood film producer.- Biography :Freed began his career as a song-plugger and pianist in Chicago...

 of MGM picked up the other half of Kelly's contract. After appearing in the B-movie drama Pilot #5
Pilot no. 5
Pilot #5 is a 1943 propaganda war film starring Franchot Tone, Marsha Hunt, Gene Kellyand Van Johnson. It was directed by George Sidney.-Cast:*Franchot Tone as George Braynor Collins*Marsha Hunt as Freddie Andrews*Gene Kelly as Vito S...

 he took the male lead in Cole Porter's Du Barry Was a Lady
DuBarry Was a Lady (film)
DuBarry Was a Lady is a 1943 Technicolor film, starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Gene Kelly, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is based on the 1939 stage musical of the same name....

 opposite Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
Lucille Désirée Ball was an American comedian, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film and television executive, and star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy and Life With Lucy...

. His first opportunity to dance to his own choreography came in his next picture Thousands Cheer
Thousands Cheer
Thousands Cheer is a 1943 American comedy musical film released by MGM. Produced at the height of the Second World War, the film was intended as a morale booster for American troops and their families.-Plot:The film is essentially a two-part program...

, where he performed a mock-love dance with a mop.

He achieved his breakthrough as a dancer on film, when MGM loaned him out to Columbia
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

 to work with Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars...

 in Cover Girl
Cover Girl (1944 film)
Cover Girl is a 1944 American musical film starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The film tells the story of a chorus girl given a chance at stardom when she is offered an opportunity to be a highly-paid cover girl...

 (1944), where he created a memorable routine dancing to his own reflection. In his next film Anchors Aweigh
Anchors Aweigh (film)
Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American musical comedy film directed by George Sidney in which two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood, accompanied by music and song, meet an aspiring young singer and try to help her get an audition at MGM...

 (1945), MGM virtually gave him a free hand to devise a range of dance routines, including the celebrated and much imitated animated dances with Jerry Mouse
Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry are the cat and mouse cartoon characters that were evolved starting in 1939.Tom and Jerry also may refer to:Cartoon works featuring the cat and mouse so named:* The Tom and Jerry Show...

, and his duets with co-star Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

. Anchors Aweigh became one of the most successful films of 1945 and it garnered Kelly his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

. In Ziegfeld Follies
Ziegfeld Follies (film)
Ziegfeld Follies is a 1945 Hollywood musical comedy film directed by Lemuel Ayers, Roy Del Ruth, Robert Lewis, Vincente Minnelli, Merrill Pye, George Sidney and Charles Waters...

 (1946) – which was produced in 1944 but not released until 1946 – Kelly collaborated with Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 – for whom he had the greatest admiration – in the famous "The Babbitt and the Bromide" challenge dance routine before leaving the studio for wartime service. Throughout this period Kelly was obliged to appear in straight acting roles in a series of cheap B-movies, now largely forgotten.

At the end of 1944, Kelly enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Service
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and was commissioned as lieutenant junior grade. He was stationed in the Photographic Section, Washington D.C., where he was involved in writing and directing a range of documentaries, and this stimulated his interest in the production side of film-making.

1946–1952: MGM



On his return to Hollywood in the spring of 1946, MGM had nothing lined up and used him in yet another B-movie: Living in a Big Way
Living in a Big Way
Living in a Big Way is an American musical comedy film starring Gene Kelly and Marie McDonald as a couple who marry during World War II after only knowing each other a short time.- Synopsis :...

. The film was considered so weak that Kelly was asked to design and insert a series of dance routines, and his ability to carry off such assignments was noticed. This led to his next picture with Judy Garland
Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years and for her renowned contralto voice, she attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage...

 and director Vincente Minnelli
Vincente Minnelli
Vincente Minnelli was an American stage director and film director, famous for directing such classic movie musicals as Meet Me in St. Louis, The Band Wagon, and An American in Paris. In addition to having directed some of the most famous and well-remembered musicals of his time, Minnelli made...

, the film version of Cole Porter's The Pirate
The Pirate
The Pirate is a 1948 American musical feature film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. With songs by Cole Porter, it stars Judy Garland and Gene Kelly with co-stars Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, and George Zucco.-Plot:...

, in which Kelly plays the eponymous swashbuckler. Now regarded as a classic, the film was ahead of its time and was not well received. The Pirate gave full rein to Kelly's athleticism and is probably best remembered for Kelly's work with The Nicholas Brothers – the leading African-American dancers of their day – in a virtuoso dance routine.

Although MGM wanted Kelly to return to safer and more commercial vehicles, he ceaselessly fought for an opportunity to direct his own musical film. In the interim, he capitalised on his swashbuckling image as d'Artagnan
D'Artagnan
Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard and died at the Siege of Maastricht in the Franco-Dutch War. A fictionalized account of his life by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras formed the basis for the d'Artagnan Romances of...

 in The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (1948 film)
The Three Musketeers is a Technicolor adventure film adaptation of the classic novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père which starred Gene Kelly and Lana Turner...

. and also appeared with Vera-Ellen
Vera-Ellen
Vera-Ellen was an American actress and dancer, principally celebrated for her filmed dance partnerships with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye and Donald O'Connor.-Early life:...

 in the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a ballet with music by Richard Rodgers and choreography by George Balanchine. It occurs near the end of Rodgers and Hart's 1936 Broadway musical comedy On Your Toes. Slaughter is the story of a hoofer who falls in love with a dance hall girl who is then shot and killed...

 ballet in Words and Music
Words and Music (1948 film)
Words and Music is a 1948 movie loosely based on the creative partnership of the composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The film starred Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and Ann Sothern, It is best remembered for the final screen pairing between Rooney and Judy...

 (1948). He was due to play the male lead opposite Garland in Easter Parade (1948), but broke his ankle playing volleyball. He withdrew from the film and encouraged Fred Astaire to come out of retirement to replace him. There followed Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (film)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a 1949 Technicolor musical film starring Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, and Gene Kelly. The movie was directed by Busby Berkeley. The title and nominal theme is taken from the unofficial anthem of American baseball, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"...

 (1949), his second film with Sinatra, where Kelly paid tribute to his Irish heritage in The Hat My Father Wore on St. Patrick's Day routine. It was this musical film which persuaded Arthur Freed to allow Kelly to make On the Town
On the Town (film)
On the Town is a 1949 musical film with music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It is an adaptation of the Broadway stage musical of the same name produced in 1944, although many changes in script and score were made from the original stage...

, where he partnered with Frank Sinatra for the third and final time, creating a breakthrough in the musical film genre which has been described as "the most inventive and effervescent musical thus far produced in Hollywood."

Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen ; is an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin' in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with Gene Kelly. His other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn...

, brought to Hollywood by Kelly to be his assistant choreographer, received co-director credit for On the Town. According to Kelly: "...when you are involved in doing choreography for film you must have expert assistants. I needed one to watch my performance, and one to work with the cameraman on the timing..without such people as Stanley, Carol Haney
Carol Haney
Carol Haney was an American dancer and actress. After assisting Gene Kelly in choreographing films, Haney won a Tony Award for her role in The Pajama Game...

 and Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne was an acclaimed Broadway dancer, choreographer and actress.With Carol Haney , she formed a formidable team of choreographers for the directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, both of whom, coincidentally, she married.She was married to Stanley Donen , and secondly to Gene Kelly with...

 I could never have done these things. When we came to do On the Town, I knew it was time for Stanley to get screen credit because we weren't boss-assistant anymore but co-creators." Together, they opened up the musical form, taking the film musical out of the studio and into real locations, with Donen taking responsibility for the staging and Kelly handling the choreography. Kelly went much further than before in introducing modern ballet into his dance sequences, going so far in the "Day in New York" routine as to substitute four leading ballet specialists for Sinatra, Munshin, Garrett and Miller.


It was now Kelly's turn to ask the studio for a straight acting role and he took the lead role in the early mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 melodrama: The Black Hand (1949). This expose of organized crime is set in New York's "Little Italy" the late 19th century, and focuses on the Black Hand, a group which extorts money upon threat of death. In the real-life incidents upon which this film is based, it was the Mafia, not the Black Hand, who functioned as the villain. Even in 1950, however, Hollywood had to tread gingerly whenever dealing with big-time crime; it was easier (and safer) to go after a "dead" criminal organization than a "live" one.

There followed Summer Stock
Summer Stock
For the article about the theatre genre, see Summer stock theatre.Summer Stock is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical made in 1950. The film was directed by Charles Walters and stars Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main, and Phil Silvers...

 (1950) – Judy Garland's last musical film for MGM – in which Kelly performed the celebrated "You, You Wonderful You" solo routine with a newspaper and a squeaky floorboard. In his book "Easy the Hard Way", Joe Pasternak
Joe Pasternak
thumb|right|250px|Pasterrnak receiving his star on [[Hollywood Boulevard]] from [[Johnny Grant |Johnny Grant]] with [[Gene Kelly]] on the left on July 29, 1991....

, head of one of the other musical units within MGM, singled out Kelly for his patience and willingness to spend as much time as necessary to enable the ailing Garland to complete her part.

There followed in quick succession two musicals which have secured Kelly's reputation as a major figure in the American musical film, An American in Paris
An American in Paris (film)
An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner...

 (1951) and – probably the most popular and admired of all film musicals – Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography...

 (1952). As co-director, lead star and choreographer, Kelly was the central driving force. Johnny Green
Johnny Green
Johnny Green was an American songwriter, composer, musical arranger, and conductor. He was given the nickname "Beulah" by colleague Conrad Salinger. His most famous song was one of his earliest, "Body and Soul"...

, head of music at MGM at the time, described him as follows:
"Gene is easygoing as long as you know exactly what you are doing when you're working with him. He's a hard taskmaster and he loves hard work. If you want to play on his team you'd better like hard work, too. He isn't cruel but he is tough, and if Gene believed in something he didn't care who he was talking to, whether it was Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer
Louis Burt Mayer born Lazar Meir was an American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in its golden years. Known always as Louis B...

 or the gatekeeper. He wasn't awed by anybody, and he had a good record of getting what he wanted".
An American in Paris won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and, in the same year, Kelly was presented with an honorary Academy Award for his contribution to film musicals and the art of choreography. The film also marked the debut of Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron
Leslie Claire Margaret Caron is a French film actress and dancer, who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. In 2006, her performance in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit won her an Emmy for guest actress in a drama series...

, whom Kelly had spotted in Paris and brought to Hollywood. Its dream ballet sequence, lasting an unprecedented seventeen minutes, was the most expensive production number ever filmed up to that point and was described by Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther was a journalist and author who was film critic for The New York Times for 27 years. His reviews and articles helped shape the careers of actors, directors and screenwriters, though his reviews, at times, were unnecessarily mean...

 as, "whoop-de-doo ... one of the finest ever put on the screen." Singin' in the Rain featured Kelly's celebrated and much imitated solo dance routine to the title song, along with the "Moses Supposes" routine with Donald O'Connor
Donald O'Connor
Donald David Dixon Ronald O’Connor was an American dancer, singer, and actor who came to fame in a series of movies in which he co-starred alternately with Gloria Jean, Peggy Ryan, and Francis the Talking Mule...

 and the "Broadway Melody" finale with Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse was an American actress and dancer.After recovering from polio as a child, and studying ballet, Charisse entered films in the 1940s...

, and while it did not initially generate the same enthusiasm as An American in Paris, it subsequently overtook the earlier film to occupy its current pre-eminent place among critics and filmgoers alike.

1953–57: The Decline of the Hollywood Musical


Kelly, at the very peak of his creative powers, now made what in retrospect is seen as a serious mistake. In December 1951 he signed a contract with MGM which sent him to Europe for nineteen months so that Kelly could use MGM funds frozen in Europe to make three pictures while personally benefiting from tax exemptions. Only one of these pictures was a musical, Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance (film)
Invitation to the Dance is a 1956 anthology film consisting of three distinct stories, all starring and directed by Gene Kelly.The film is unusual in that it has no spoken dialogue, with the characters performing their roles entirely through dance and mime...

, a pet project of Kelly's to bring modern ballet to mainstream film audiences. It was beset with delays and technical problems, and flopped when finally released in 1956. When Kelly returned to Hollywood in 1953, the film musical was already beginning to feel the pressures from television, and MGM cut the budget for his next picture Brigadoon
Brigadoon (film)
Brigadoon is a 1954 MGM musical feature film made in CinemaScope and Ansco Color based on the Broadway musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse...

 (1954), with Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse was an American actress and dancer.After recovering from polio as a child, and studying ballet, Charisse entered films in the 1940s...

, forcing the film to be made on studio backlots instead of on location in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. This year also saw him appear as guest star with his brother Fred in the celebrated "I Love to Go Swimmin' with Wimmen" routine in Deep in My Heart. MGM's refusal to loan him out for Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls (film)
Guys and Dolls is a 1955 musical film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine. The film was made by the Samuel Goldwyn Company and distributed by MGM. It was produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay...

 and Pal Joey
Pal Joey (film)
Pal Joey is a 1957 film, loosely adapted from the musical play of the same name, and starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak. Jo Ann Greer sang for Hayworth, as she had done previously in Affair in Trinidad and Miss Sadie Thompson. Kim Novak's singing voice was dubbed by Trudy Erwin...

 put further strains on his relationship with the studio. He negotiated an exit to his contract which involved making three further pictures for MGM.

The first of these, It's Always Fair Weather
It's Always Fair Weather
Fortunately, the original multitrack pre-recordings of the score survive to this day, having enabled Rhino Records to reissue the soundtrack in true stereo . The Original MGM soundtrack was released in 1991 by Sony Music....

 (1956) co-directed with Donen, was a musical satire on television and advertising, and includes his famous roller skate dance routine to "I Like Myself", and a dance trio with Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd was an American film and stage choreographer.-Life and career:Born Milton Greenwald in New York City on the Lower East Side, the son of Abraham Greenwald, an immigrant barber, and his wife Lillian, Michael Kidd moved to Brooklyn with his family and attended New Utrecht High School there...

 and Dan Dailey
Dan Dailey
Daniel James Dailey Jr. was an American dancer and actor.-Early life and career:Born in New York City on December 14, 1915, to James J. and Helen Dailey, both born in New York City. He appeared in a minstrel show when very young, and appeared in vaudeville before his Broadway debut in 1937 in...

 which allowed Kelly to experiment with the widescreen possibilities of Cinemascope
CinemaScope
CinemaScope was an anamorphic lens series used for shooting wide screen movies from 1953 to 1967. Its creation in 1953, by the president of 20th Century-Fox, marked the beginning of the modern anamorphic format in both principal photography and movie projection.The anamorphic lenses theoretically...

. A modest success, it was followed by Kelly's last musical film for MGM, Les Girls
Les Girls
Les Girls, also known as Cole Porter's Les Girls, is a 1957 musical comedy film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by George Cukor, produced by Sol C...

 (1957), in which he partnered a trio of leading ladies, Mitzi Gaynor
Mitzi Gaynor
-Life and career:Gaynor was born as Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber in Chicago, Illinois to Pauline Fisher, a dancer, and Henry von Gerber, a violinist, cellist, and music director. The family first moved to Detroit and when she was eleven to Hollywood, California.She trained as a ballerina...

, Kay Kendall
Kay Kendall
Kay Kendall was an English actress.Kendall began her film career in the 1946 musical London Town. Though the film was a financial failure, Kendall continued to work regularly until her appearance in the comedy Genevieve brought her widespread recognition...

 and Taina Elg
Taina Elg
Taina Elg is a Finnish-American actress and dancer. She has appeared on stage, film and television.-Biography:She was born in Helsinki, but later raised in Turku by her parents, Helena Dobroumova and Åke Elg, a pianist. In 1957 she won the Golden Globe for the Foreign Newcomer Award - Female...

, fittingly ending, as he had begun, with a Cole Porter musical. The third picture he completed was a co-production between MGM and himself, the B-movie The Happy Road
The Happy Road
The Happy Road is a 1957 French-American comedy film starring Gene Kelly, Barbara Laage, Michael Redgrave and Bobby Clark. Two students escape from their Swiss private school and make for Paris....

, set in his beloved France, his first foray in his new role as producer-director-actor.

1958–1996: Years of perseverance


Kelly did not return to stage work until his MGM contract ended in 1957, when in 1958 he directed Rodgers and Hammerstein
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were a well-known American songwriting duo, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. They created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s during what is considered the golden age of the medium...

's musical play Flower Drum Song
Flower Drum Song
Flower Drum Song was the eighth stage musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It was based on the 1957 novel, The Flower Drum Song, by Chinese-American author C. Y. Lee. The piece opened in 1958 on Broadway and was afterwards presented in the West End and on tour...

. Early in 1960 Kelly, an ardent Francophile and fluent French speaker, was invited by A. M. Julien, the general administrator of the Paris Opéra
Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...

 and Opéra-Comique
Opéra-Comique
The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the...

, to select his own material and create a modern ballet for the company, the first time an American received such an assignment. The result was Pas de Dieux, based on Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 combined with the music of George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

's Concerto in F
Concerto in F (Gershwin)
Concerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than the earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue...

. It was a major success, and led to his being honored with the Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 by the French Government.


Kelly continued to make some film appearances, such as Hornbeck in the 1960 Hollywood production of Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind (1960 film)
Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer....

. However, most of his efforts were now concentrated on film production and directing. He directed Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason was an American comedian, actor and musician. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, especially by his character Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, a situation-comedy television series. His most noted film roles were as Minnesota Fats in the drama film The...

 in Gigot in Paris, but the film was subsequently drastically recut by Seven Arts Productions
Seven Arts Productions
Seven Arts Productions was founded in 1957 by Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman. The company was a frequent producer of movies for other studios, including The Misfits for United Artists, Gigot for Twentieth Century-Fox, Lolita for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Is Paris Burning? for Paramount Pictures.Over...

 and flopped. Another French effort, Jacques Demy
Jacques Demy
Jacques Demy was one of the most approachable filmmakers to appear in the wake of the French New Wave. Uninterested in the formal experimentation of Alain Resnais, or the political agitation of Jean-Luc Godard, Demy instead created a self-contained fantasy world closer to that of François...

's homage to the MGM musical: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
The Young Girls of Rochefort is a 1967 French musical film directed by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve, her sister Françoise Dorléac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, Grover Dale and Gene Kelly. The choreography was by Norman Maen.Michel Legrand composed...

 (1967) in which Kelly appeared, also performed poorly. He appeared as himself in George Cukor
George Cukor
George Dewey Cukor was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? , A Bill of Divorcement , Dinner at Eight , Little Women , David Copperfield , Romeo and Juliet and...

's Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love is a 1960 musical comedy film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by George Cukor and produced by Jerry Wald from a screenplay by Norman Krasna, Hal Kanter and Arthur Miller...

 (1960).

His first foray into television was a documentary for NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's Omnibus
Omnibus (US TV series)
Omnibus is an American, commercially sponsored, educational television series.-History:Broadcast live primarily on Sunday afternoons at 4:00pm Eastern time, from November 9, 1952 until 1961. Omnibus originally aired on CBS, and later on Sunday evenings on ABC. The program finally moved to NBC in...

, Dancing is a Man's Game (1958) where he assembled a group of America's greatest sportsmen – including Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle was an American professional baseball player. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.Mantle was noted for his hitting...

, Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson was an African-American professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson's performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight...

 and Bob Cousy
Bob Cousy
Robert Joseph "Bob" Cousy is a retired American professional basketball player. The 6'1" , 175-pound Cousy played point guard with the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics from 1951 to 1963 and briefly with the Cincinnati Royals in the 1969–70 season...

 – and reinterpreted their moves choreographically, as part of his lifelong quest to remove the effeminate stereotype of the art of dance, while articulating the philosophy behind his dance style. It gained an Emmy nomination for choreography and now stands as the key document explaining Kelly's approach to modern dance.

Kelly also frequently appeared on television shows during the 1960s, but his one effort at television series, as Father Chuck O'Malley in Going My Way
Going My Way (TV series)
Going My Way is an American comedy-drama series starring dancer and actor Gene Kelly. Based on the 1944 film of the same name starring Bing Crosby, the series aired on ABC with new episodes from October 3, 1962 to April 24, 1963. The program was Kelly's first and only attempt at a weekly television...

 (1962–63), based on the Best Picture of 1944
Going My Way
Going My Way is a 1944 film directed by Leo McCarey. It is a light-hearted musical comedy-drama about a new young priest taking over a parish from an established old veteran . Crosby sings five songs in the film. It was followed the next year by a sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's. This picture was...

 starring Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

, was dropped after thirty episodes, although it enjoyed great popularity in Roman Catholic countries outside of the United States. He also appeared in three major TV specials: New York, New York (1966), The Julie Andrews Show (1965), and Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk is a folktale said by English historian Francis Palgrave to be an oral legend that arrived in England with the Vikings. The tale is closely associated with the tale of Jack the Giant-killer. It is known under a number of versions...

 (1967) a show he produced and directed which returned to a combination of cartoon animation with live dance, winning him an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 for Outstanding Children's Program.

In 1963, Kelly joined Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
-1920:* White Youth* The Flaming Disc* Am I Dreaming?* The Dragon's Net* The Adorable Savage* Putting It Over* The Line Runners-1921:* The Fire Eater* A Battle of Wits* Dream Girl* The Millionaire...

 for a two-year stint which proved to be the most unproductive of his career so far. He joined 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios...

 in 1965, but had little to do – partly due to his decision to decline assignments away from Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 for family reasons. His perseverance finally paid off with the major box-office hit A Guide for the Married Man
A Guide for the Married Man
A Guide for the Married Man is a 1967 American bedroom farce comedy film starring Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, and Inger Stevens. It was directed by Gene Kelly. It features a large number of cameos, including Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Terry-Thomas, Jayne Mansfield, Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Joey...

 (1967) where he directed Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau was an American actor best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon, as well as his role as Coach Buttermaker in the 1976 comedy The Bad News Bears...

 and a major opportunity arose when Fox – buoyed by the returns from The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music (film)
Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is based on the Broadway musical The Sound of Music, with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and with the musical...

 (1965) – commissioned Kelly to direct Hello, Dolly! (1969), again directing Matthau along with Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

, but which unfortunately failed to recoup the enormous production expenses.

In 1970, he made another TV special: Gene Kelly and 50 Girls and was invited to bring the show to Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, which he duly did for an eight-week stint – on condition he be paid more than any artist had hitherto been paid there. He directed veteran actors James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

 and Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

 in the comedy western The Cheyenne Social Club
The Cheyenne Social Club
The Cheyenne Social Club is a 1970 Western comedy film written by James Lee Barrett and directed and produced by Gene Kelly, starring James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Jones....

 (1970) which performed very well at the box-office. In 1973 he would work again with Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 as part of Sinatra's Emmy nominated TV special Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. Then, in 1974, he appeared as one of many special narrators in the surprise hit of the year That's Entertainment!
That's Entertainment!
That's Entertainment! is a 1974 compilation film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It was followed by two sequels and a related film called That's Dancing!....

 and subsequently directed and co-starred with his friend Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 in the sequel That's Entertainment, Part II
That's Entertainment, Part II
That's Entertainment, Part II is a 1976 motion picture by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and a sequel to the 1974 documentary That's Entertainment!. Like the previous film, That's Entertainment, Part II was a retrospective of famous films released by MGM from the 1930s to the 1950s...

 (1976). It was a measure of his powers of persuasion that he managed to coax the 77-year-old Astaire – who had insisted that his contract rule out any dancing, having long since retired – into performing a series of song and dance duets, evoking a powerful nostalgia for the glory days of the American musical film. Kelly continued to make frequent TV appearances and in 1980, appeared in an acting and dancing role opposite Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John AO, OBE is a singer and actress. She is a four-time Grammy award winner who has amassed five No. 1 and ten other Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 singles and two No. 1 Billboard 200 solo albums. Eleven of her singles and 14 of her albums have been certified gold by the RIAA...

 in Xanadu
Xanadu (film)
Xanadu is a 1980 romantic musical fantasy film written by Marc Reid Rubel and directed by Robert Greenwald. The title is a reference to the poem "Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is quoted in the film. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province...

 (1980), an expensive theatrical flop which has since attained a cult following. In Kelly's opinion "The concept was marvelous but it just didn't come off." In the same year, he was invited by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

 to recruit a production staff for American Zoetrope's One from the Heart
One from the Heart
One from the Heart is a 1982 musical film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The characters themselves do not actually sing but the powerful score dominates the movie. It is set entirely in Las Vegas, on the Las Vegas Strip and the desert surrounding the city...

 (1982). Although Coppola's ambition was for him to establish a production unit to rival the Freed Unit
Arthur Freed
Arthur Freed was born Arthur Grossman in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a Jewish American lyricist and a Hollywood film producer.- Biography :Freed began his career as a song-plugger and pianist in Chicago...

 at MGM, the film's failure put an end to this idea. In 1985, Kelly served as executive producer and co-host of That's Dancing!
That's Dancing!
That's Dancing! is a 1985 retrospective documentary produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that looked back at the history of dancing in film. Unlike the That's Entertainment! series, this film did not focus specifically on MGM films and included more recent performances by the likes of John Travolta and...

 – a celebration of the history of dance in the American musical. After his final on-screen appearance introducing That's Entertainment! III in 1994, his final film project was the animated movie Cats Don't Dance
Cats Don't Dance
Cats Don't Dance is a 1997 animated musical comedy film, notable as the only fully animated feature produced by Turner Entertainment's feature animation unit . The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment...

, released in 1997 and dedicated to him, on which Kelly acted as uncredited choreographic consultant.

Working methods and influence on filmed dance


When he began his collaborative film work, he was influenced by Robert Alton
Robert Alton
Robert Alton was an American dancer and choreographer, a major figure in dance choreography of Broadway and Hollywood musicals from the 1930s through to the early 1950s...

 and John Murray Anderson
John Murray Anderson
John Murray Anderson was a theatre director and producer, songwriter, actor, screenwriter, and lighting designer. He worked almost every genre of show business, including vaudeville, Broadway, and film....

, striving to create moods and character insight with his dances. He choreographed his own movement, along with that of the ensemble, with the assistance of Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne was an acclaimed Broadway dancer, choreographer and actress.With Carol Haney , she formed a formidable team of choreographers for the directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, both of whom, coincidentally, she married.She was married to Stanley Donen , and secondly to Gene Kelly with...

, Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen ; is an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin' in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with Gene Kelly. His other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn...

, Carol Haney
Carol Haney
Carol Haney was an American dancer and actress. After assisting Gene Kelly in choreographing films, Haney won a Tony Award for her role in The Pajama Game...

, and Alex Romero
Alex Romero
Alexander Rafael Romero Galban is a professional baseball outfielder.-Baseball career:Romero was born on october 3, 1995. She is 5 feet tall and she currently attends Bishop Diego High School as an undrafted free agent...

. He experimented with lighting, camera techniques and special effects in order to achieve true integration of dance with film, and was one of the first to use split screens, double images, live action with animation and is credited as the person who made the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences.

There was a clear progression in his development, from an early concentration on tap and musical comedy style to greater complexity using ballet and modern dance forms.
Kelly himself refused to categorize his style: "I don't have a name for my style of dancing...It's certainly hybrid...I've borrowed from the modern dance, from the classical, and certainly from the American folk dance - tap-dancing, jitterbugging...But I have tried to develop a style which is indigenous to the environment in which I was reared." He especially acknowledged the influence of George M. Cohan
George M. Cohan
George Michael Cohan , known professionally as George M. Cohan, was a major American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and producer....

: "I have a lot of Cohan in me. It's an Irish quality, a jaw-jutting, up-on-the-toes cockiness - which is a good quality for a male dancer to have." He was also heavily influenced by an African-American dancer Dancing Dotson, whom he saw at Loew's Penn. Theatre around 1929, and was briefly taught by Frank Harrington, an African-American tap specialist from New York. However, his main interest was in ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

, which he studied under Kotchetovsky in the early Thirties. As biographer Clive Hirschhorn explains: "As a child he used to run for miles through parks and streets and woods - anywhere, just as long as he could feel the wind against his body and through his hair. Ballet gave him the same feeling of exhilaration, and in 1933 he was convinced it was the most satisfying form of self-expression." He also studied Spanish dancing under Angel Cansino, Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars...

's uncle. Generally speaking, he tended to use tap and other popular dance idioms to express joy and exuberance – as in the title song from Singin' in the Rain or "I Got Rhythm" from An American in Paris, whereas pensive or romantic feelings were more often expressed via ballet or modern dance, as in "Heather on the Hill" from Brigadoon or "Our Love Is Here to Stay
Our Love Is Here to Stay
"Our Love Is Here to Stay" is a popular song and a jazz standard. The music was written by George Gershwin, the lyrics by Ira Gershwin, for the movie The Goldwyn Follies which was released shortly after George Gershwin's death. It is performed in the film by Kenny Baker...

" from An American in Paris.


According to Delamater, Kelly's work "seems to represent the fulfillment of dance-film integration in the 1940s and 1950s". While Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 had revolutionized the filming of dance in the 1930s by insisting on full-figure photography of dancers while allowing only a modest degree of camera movement, Kelly freed up the camera, making greater use of space, camera movement, camera angles and editing, creating a partnership between dance movement and camera movement without sacrificing full-figure framing. Kelly's reasoning behind this was that he felt the kinetic force of live dance often evaporated when brought to film, and he sought to partially overcome this by involving the camera in movement and giving the dancer a greater number of directions in which to move. Examples of this abound in Kelly's work and are well illustrated in the "Prehistoric Man" sequence from On the Town and "The Hat My Father Wore on St. Patrick's Day" from Take Me Out to the Ball Game. In 1951, he summed up his vision as follows: "If the camera is to make a contribution at all to dance, this must be the focal point of its contribution; the fluid background, giving each spectator an undistorted and altogether similar view of dancer and background. To accomplish this, the camera is made fluid, moving with the dancer, so that the lens becomes the eye of the spectator, your eye".

Kelly's athleticism gave his moves a distinctive broad, muscular quality, and this was a very deliberate choice on his part, as he explained: "There's a strong link between sports and dancing, and my own dancing springs from my early days as an athlete...I think dancing is a man's game and if he does it well he does it better than a woman." He railed against what he saw as the widespread effeminacy in male dancing which, in his opinion, "tragically" stigmatized the genre, alienating boys from entering the field: "Dancing does attract effeminate young men. I don't object to that as long as they don't dance effeminately. I just say that if a man dances effeminately he dances badly — just as if a woman comes out on stage and starts to sing bass. Unfortunately people confuse gracefulness with softness. John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 is a graceful man and so are some of the great ball players...but, of course, they don't run the risk of being called sissies." In his view, "one of our problems is that so much dancing is taught by women. You can spot many male dancers who have this tuition by their arm movements — they are soft, limp and feminine." He acknowledged that, in spite of his efforts — in TV programs such as Dancing: A Man's Game (1958) for example — the situation changed little over the years.

He also sought to break from the class-conscious conventions of the 1930s and early 40s, when top hat and tails or tuxedos were the norm, by dancing in casual or everyday work clothes, so as to make his dancing more relevant to the cinema-going public. As his first wife, actress and dancer Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair was an American actress of film and stage, long based in London.Blair pursued a career in entertainment from the age of eight, and as a child worked as an amateur dancer, performed on radio, and worked as a model, before joining the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe in 1940...

 explained: "A sailor suit or his white socks and loafers, or the T-shirts on his muscular torso, gave everyone the feeling that he was a regular guy, and perhaps they too could express love and joy by dancing in the street or stomping through puddles...he democratized the dance in movies." In particular, he wanted to create a completely different image from that associated with Fred Astaire, not least because he believed his physique didn't suit such refined elegance: "I used to envy his cool aristocratic style, so intimate and contained. Fred wears top hat and tails to the manor born — I put them on and look like a truck driver."

Personal life and death



Kelly was married to Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair
Betsy Blair was an American actress of film and stage, long based in London.Blair pursued a career in entertainment from the age of eight, and as a child worked as an amateur dancer, performed on radio, and worked as a model, before joining the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe in 1940...

 for 15 years (1941–1957) and they had one child, Kerry. Kelly divorced Blair in 1957. In 1960, Kelly married his choreographic assistant Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne
Jeanne Coyne was an acclaimed Broadway dancer, choreographer and actress.With Carol Haney , she formed a formidable team of choreographers for the directors Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, both of whom, coincidentally, she married.She was married to Stanley Donen , and secondly to Gene Kelly with...

, who had divorced Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen ; is an American film director and choreographer whose most celebrated works are Singin' in the Rain and On the Town, both of which he co-directed with Gene Kelly. His other noteworthy films include Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Indiscreet, Damn...

 in 1949 after a brief marriage. He remained married to Coyne from 1960 until her death in 1973 and they had two children, Bridget and Tim. He was married to Patricia Ward from 1990 until his death in 1996.

Kelly was a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 with strong progressive
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

 convictions, which occasionally created difficulty for him as his period of greatest prominence coincided with the McCarthy era
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

 in the U.S. In 1947, he was part of the Committee for the First Amendment
Committee for the First Amendment
The Committee for the First Amendment was an action group formed in September 1947 by actors in support of the Hollywood Ten during the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee...

, the Hollywood delegation which flew to Washington to protest at the first official hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His first wife, Betsy Blair, was suspected of being a Communist sympathizer and when MGM, who had offered Blair a part in Marty
Marty (film)
Marty is a 1955 American film directed by Delbert Mann. The screenplay was written by Paddy Chayefsky, expanding upon his 1953 teleplay of the same name. The film stars Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. The film enjoyed international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and...

 (1955), were considering withdrawing her under pressure from the American Legion
American Legion
The American Legion is a mutual-aid organization of veterans of the United States armed forces chartered by the United States Congress. It was founded to benefit those veterans who served during a wartime period as defined by Congress...

, Kelly successfully threatened MGM with a pullout from It's Always Fair Weather
It's Always Fair Weather
Fortunately, the original multitrack pre-recordings of the score survive to this day, having enabled Rhino Records to reissue the soundtrack in true stereo . The Original MGM soundtrack was released in 1991 by Sony Music....

 unless his wife was restored to the part. He used his position on the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America, West
Writers Guild of America, west
Writers Guild of America, West is a labor union representing film, television, radio, and new media writers. The Guild was formed in 1954 from five organizations representing writers, which include the Screen Writers Guild...

 on a number of occasions to mediate disputes between unions and the Hollywood studios, and although he was frequently accused by some on the right of championing the unions, he was valued by the studios as an effective mediator.

Kelly was raised as a Roman Catholic, but in September of 1939, Kelly, having already become disgusted by the Roman Catholic Church's support for Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 against the Spanish Republic, officially severed his ties with the church after a trip to Mexico convinced him that the church had failed to look out for the poor. For the rest of his life he was an agnostic.

Kelly was a major financial supporter of the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA), and he left thousands of pounds to NORAID
NORAID
Noraid or the Irish Northern Aid Committee is an Irish American fund raising organization founded after the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969...

 in his will.

He retained a lifelong passion for sports and relished competition. He was known as a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

. From the mid-40s through the early 50s, he and Blair organized weekly parties at their Beverly Hills home which were renowned for an intensely competitive and physical version of charades
Charades
Charades or charade is a word guessing game. In the form most played today, it is an acting game in which one player acts out a word or phrase, often by pantomiming similar-sounding words, and the other players guess the word or phrase. The idea is to use physical rather than verbal language to...

, known as "The Game".

Kelly died in his sleep on February 2, 1996, in Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills is an affluent city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. With a population of 34,109 at the 2010 census, up from 33,784 as of the 2000 census, it is home to numerous Hollywood celebrities. Beverly Hills and the neighboring city of West Hollywood are together...

 after a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 – he had also suffered a stroke the year before. His body was cremated the same day and he had left instructions that there was to be no funeral and no memorial services. Kelly's papers are currently housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

.

Awards and honors


  • 1946 – Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in Anchors Aweigh
    Anchors Aweigh (film)
    Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American musical comedy film directed by George Sidney in which two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood, accompanied by music and song, meet an aspiring young singer and try to help her get an audition at MGM...

     (1945).
  • 1952 – 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." This Oscar was lost in a fire in 1983 and replaced at the 1984 Academy Awards.
  • 1956 – Golden Bear
    Golden Bear
    According to legend, the Golden Bear was a large golden Ursus arctos. Members of the Ursus arctos species can reach masses of . The Grizzly Bear and the Kodiak Bear are North American subspecies of the Brown Bear....

     at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival
    6th Berlin International Film Festival
    -Jury:* Marcel Carné* Bill Luckwell* Giuseppe Vittorio Sampieri* Koichi Kawakita* Leo J. Horster* Ilse Urbach* Ludwig Berger-Films in competition:* ...erwachsen sein dagegen sehr by Wolf Hart* Autumn Leaves by Robert Aldrich...

     for Invitation to the Dance
    Invitation to the Dance (film)
    Invitation to the Dance is a 1956 anthology film consisting of three distinct stories, all starring and directed by Gene Kelly.The film is unusual in that it has no spoken dialogue, with the characters performing their roles entirely through dance and mime...

    .
  • 1958 – Nomination for Golden Laurel Award for Best Male Musical Performance in Les Girls
    Les Girls
    Les Girls, also known as Cole Porter's Les Girls, is a 1957 musical comedy film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by George Cukor, produced by Sol C...

    .
  • 1958 – Dance Magazine
    Dance Magazine
    Dance Magazine is an "influential" American trade publication for dance, currently published by the Macfadden Communications Group. It was first published in June 1927 as The American Dancer. William Como was its editor-in-chief from 1970 to his death in 1989. Wendy Perron became its editor-in...

    s annual TV Award for Dancing: A Man's Game from the Omnibus television series. It was also nominated for an Emmy for best choreography.
  • 1960 – In France, Kelly was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
  • 1962 – Gene Kelly Dance Film Festival staged by the Museum of Modern Art
    Museum of Modern Art
    The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

    .
  • 1964 – Silver Sail Best Actor for What a Way to Go!
    What a Way to Go!
    What a Way to Go! is a 1964 American comedy film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Margaret Dumont, Bob Cummings and Dick Van Dyke.-Plot:...

     (1964) at the Locarno International Film Festival
    Locarno International Film Festival
    The Film Festival Locarno is an international film festival held annually in the city of Locarno, Switzerland since 1946. After Cannes and Venice and together with Karlovy Vary, Locarno is the Film Festival with the longest history...

    .
  • 1967 – Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program for Jack and the Beanstalk.
  • 1970 – Nomination for Golden Globe, Best Director for Hello, Dolly!, 1969.
  • 1981 – Cecil B. DeMille
    Cecil B. DeMille
    Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies...

     Award at Golden Globes.
  • 1981 – Gene Kelly was the subject of a two-week film festival in France.
  • 1982 – Lifetime Achievement Award in the fifth annual Kennedy Center Honors
    Kennedy Center Honors
    The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

    .
  • 1985 – Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute
    American Film Institute
    The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

    .
  • 1989 – Life Achievement Award from Screen Actors Guild
    Screen Actors Guild
    The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

    .
  • 1991 – University of Pittsburgh
    University of Pittsburgh
    The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

     inaugurates The Gene Kelly Awards, given annually to high school musicals in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
    Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
    Allegheny County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,223,348; making it the second most populous county in Pennsylvania, following Philadelphia County. The county seat is Pittsburgh...

    .
  • 1992 – Induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.
  • 1994 – National Medal of Arts
    National Medal of Arts
    The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the...

     awarded by United States President Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinton
    William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

    .
  • 1994 – The Three Tenors performed Singin' in the Rain in his presence during a concert at Dodger Stadium
    Dodger Stadium
    Dodger Stadium, also sometimes called Chavez Ravine, is a stadium in Los Angeles. Located adjacent to Downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium has been the home ballpark of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers team since 1962...

     in Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

    .
  • 1996 – Honorary César Award
    César Award
    The César Award is the national film award of France, first given out in 1975. The nominations are selected by the members of the Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma....

     The César is the main national film award in France.
  • 1996 – At the Academy Awards ceremony, director Quincy Jones
    Quincy Jones
    Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

     organised a tribute to the just-deceased Kelly, in which Savion Glover
    Savion Glover
    Savion Glover is an American tap dancer, actor, and choreographer. As a learning prodigy, he was taught by notable dancers from previous generations. Glover is currently interested in restoring African roots to tap...

     performed the dance to "Singin' in the Rain".
  • 1997 – Ranked #26 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
  • 1999 – Ranked #15 in the American Film Institute's "Greatest Legends" list.

Musical films


Gene Kelly appeared as actor and dancer in the following musical films. He always choreographed his own dance routines, and often the dance routines of others, and often used assistants. As was the practice at the time, he was rarely formally credited in the film titles:
Year Film Role Notes
1942 For Me and My Gal
For Me and My Gal (film)
For Me and My Gal is a 1942 American musical film directed by Busby Berkeley and starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly – in his screen debut – and George Murphy, and featuring Martha Eggerth and Ben Blue. The film was written by Richard Sherman, Fred F...

Harry Palmer
1943 Du Barry Was a Lady Alec Howe/Black Arrow
Thousands Cheer
Thousands Cheer
Thousands Cheer is a 1943 American comedy musical film released by MGM. Produced at the height of the Second World War, the film was intended as a morale booster for American troops and their families.-Plot:The film is essentially a two-part program...

Private Eddie Marsh
1944 Cover Girl
Cover Girl (1944 film)
Cover Girl is a 1944 American musical film starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The film tells the story of a chorus girl given a chance at stardom when she is offered an opportunity to be a highly-paid cover girl...

Danny McGuire
1945 Anchors Aweigh
Anchors Aweigh (film)
Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American musical comedy film directed by George Sidney in which two sailors go on a four-day shore leave in Hollywood, accompanied by music and song, meet an aspiring young singer and try to help her get an audition at MGM...

Joseph Brady Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

Ziegfeld Follies Gentleman in 'The Babbit and the Bromide'
1947 Living in a Big Way
Living in a Big Way
Living in a Big Way is an American musical comedy film starring Gene Kelly and Marie McDonald as a couple who marry during World War II after only knowing each other a short time.- Synopsis :...

Leo Gogarty
1948 The Pirate
The Pirate
The Pirate is a 1948 American musical feature film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. With songs by Cole Porter, it stars Judy Garland and Gene Kelly with co-stars Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper, Reginald Owen, and George Zucco.-Plot:...

Serafin
Words and Music
Words and Music (1948 film)
Words and Music is a 1948 movie loosely based on the creative partnership of the composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The film starred Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and Ann Sothern, It is best remembered for the final screen pairing between Rooney and Judy...

Himself
1949 Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (film)
Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a 1949 Technicolor musical film starring Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, and Gene Kelly. The movie was directed by Busby Berkeley. The title and nominal theme is taken from the unofficial anthem of American baseball, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"...

Eddie O'Brien
On the Town
On the Town (film)
On the Town is a 1949 musical film with music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It is an adaptation of the Broadway stage musical of the same name produced in 1944, although many changes in script and score were made from the original stage...

Gabey
1950 Summer Stock
Summer Stock
For the article about the theatre genre, see Summer stock theatre.Summer Stock is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical made in 1950. The film was directed by Charles Walters and stars Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria DeHaven, Marjorie Main, and Phil Silvers...

Joe D. Ross
1951 An American in Paris
An American in Paris (film)
An American in Paris is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner...

Jerry Mulligan Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1952 Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography...

Don Lockwood
1954 Brigadoon
Brigadoon (film)
Brigadoon is a 1954 MGM musical feature film made in CinemaScope and Ansco Color based on the Broadway musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse...

Tommy Albright
Deep in My Heart Specialty in 'Dancing Around'
1955 It's Always Fair Weather
It's Always Fair Weather
Fortunately, the original multitrack pre-recordings of the score survive to this day, having enabled Rhino Records to reissue the soundtrack in true stereo . The Original MGM soundtrack was released in 1991 by Sony Music....

Ted Riley
1956 Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance (film)
Invitation to the Dance is a 1956 anthology film consisting of three distinct stories, all starring and directed by Gene Kelly.The film is unusual in that it has no spoken dialogue, with the characters performing their roles entirely through dance and mime...

Host/Pierrot/The Marine/Sinbad
1957 Les Girls
Les Girls
Les Girls, also known as Cole Porter's Les Girls, is a 1957 musical comedy film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by George Cukor, produced by Sol C...

Barry Nichols
1958 Marjorie Morningstar
Marjorie Morningstar (film)
Marjorie Morningstar is a 1958 melodrama film based on the 1955 novel of the same name. The film, released by Warner Bros. and directed by Irving Rapper tells a fictional coming of age story about a young Jewish girl in New York City in the 1950s...

Noel Airman
1960 Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind (1960 film)
Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer....

E.K. Hornbeck
1960 Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love is a 1960 musical comedy film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by George Cukor and produced by Jerry Wald from a screenplay by Norman Krasna, Hal Kanter and Arthur Miller...

Himself
1964 What a Way to Go!
What a Way to Go!
What a Way to Go! is a 1964 American comedy film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Margaret Dumont, Bob Cummings and Dick Van Dyke.-Plot:...

Pinky Benson
1966 Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
The Young Girls of Rochefort is a 1967 French musical film directed by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve, her sister Françoise Dorléac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, Grover Dale and Gene Kelly. The choreography was by Norman Maen.Michel Legrand composed...

Andy Miller
1974 That's Entertainment!
That's Entertainment!
That's Entertainment! is a 1974 compilation film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It was followed by two sequels and a related film called That's Dancing!....

Himself (also archive footage)
1976 That's Entertainment, Part II
That's Entertainment, Part II
That's Entertainment, Part II is a 1976 motion picture by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and a sequel to the 1974 documentary That's Entertainment!. Like the previous film, That's Entertainment, Part II was a retrospective of famous films released by MGM from the 1930s to the 1950s...

Himself (also archive footage)
1980 Xanadu
Xanadu (film)
Xanadu is a 1980 romantic musical fantasy film written by Marc Reid Rubel and directed by Robert Greenwald. The title is a reference to the poem "Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is quoted in the film. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province...

Danny McGuire

Stage

Dates Title Role Notes
November 9, 1938 - July 15, 1939 Leave It to Me!
Leave It to Me!
Leave It to Me! is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The "book" was a collaborative effort by Samuel and Bella Spewack, who also directed the Broadway production. The musical was based on the play Clear All Wires by the Spewacks...

Secretary to Mr. Goodhue
February 4, 1939 - May 27, 1939 One for the Money various roles
October 25, 1939 - April 6, 1940 The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened 25 October 1939 at the Booth Theatre in New York City...

Harry
September 23, 1940 - October 19, 1940 The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened 25 October 1939 at the Booth Theatre in New York City...

Harry
December 25, 1940 - November 29, 1941 Pal Joey Joey Evans
October 1, 1941 - July 4, 1942 Best Foot Forward
Best Foot Forward (musical)
Best Foot Forward is a 1941 Broadway musical by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, with book by John Cecil Holm. Produced by George Abbott, the production opened on 1 October 1941 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre where it was staged for 326 performances....

Choreography
December 1, 1958 - May 7, 1960 Flower Drum Song
Flower Drum Song
Flower Drum Song was the eighth stage musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It was based on the 1957 novel, The Flower Drum Song, by Chinese-American author C. Y. Lee. The piece opened in 1958 on Broadway and was afterwards presented in the West End and on tour...

Director
February 22, 1979 - April 1, 1979 Coquelico Producer
July 2, 1985 - May 18, 1986 Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also providing the choreography...

Original film choreography
Nominated — Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography
-1970s:* 1970: Ron Field – Applause** No nominees* 1971: Michael Bennett – Follies and Donald Saddler – No, No, Nanette** No nominees* 1972: Patricia Birch – Grease and Jean Erdman – Two Gentlemen of Verona...


Television

Year Title Role Notes
1948 The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, first serialized in March–July 1844. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard...

D'Artagnan
1958 Dancing: A Man's Game Himself Omnibus
1962–1963 Going My Way
Going My Way (TV series)
Going My Way is an American comedy-drama series starring dancer and actor Gene Kelly. Based on the 1944 film of the same name starring Bing Crosby, the series aired on ABC with new episodes from October 3, 1962 to April 24, 1963. The program was Kelly's first and only attempt at a weekly television...

Father Chuck O'Malley (30 episodes)
1965 Gene Kelly: New York, New York Himself
The Julie Andrews Show Himself
1967 Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk is a folktale said by English historian Francis Palgrave to be an oral legend that arrived in England with the Vikings. The tale is closely associated with the tale of Jack the Giant-killer. It is known under a number of versions...

Jeremy Keen, Proprietor (Peddler) Emmy Award for Best Children's Program
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

1971 The Funny Side
The Funny Side
The Funny Side is an American sketch comedy program that aired on NBC as part of its 1971 fall lineup.-Synopsis:The Funny Side was hosted by Gene Kelly and starred five pairs of actors and actresses who were presented as married couples...

Himself Series host
1973 Frank Sinatra: Ol' Blue Eyes is Back Himself
1978 Gene Kelly: An American in Pasadena Himself
1980 Muppet Show Himself
1985 North and South
North and South (TV miniseries)
North and South is the title of three American television miniseries broadcast on the ABC network in 1985, 1986, and 1994. Set before, during, and immediately after the American Civil War, they are based on the 1980s trilogy of novels North and South by John Jakes. The 1985 first installment, North...

Senator Charles Edwards
1986 Sins Eric Hovland

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