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Gene Kelly

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It's Always Fair Weather ... Academy Award-winner Gene Kelly (Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris),... more info $15.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Deep In My Heart ... A galaxy of stars appear in this spectacular musical biography of the life and... more info $14.36was $17.99 Buy Now

Sins ... A 1986 major television event based on the Novel by Judith Gould. Helene Junot... more info $29.96was $39.95 Buy Now

Best of Warner Bros.: 20 Film... Includes The Jazz Singer, The Broadway Melody, 42nd Street, The Great Ziegfeld,... more info $74.95was $98.98 Buy Now

Lucille Ball Film: Collection ... Includes: Big Street, Critics Choice, Dance Girl Dance, Dubarry Was A Lady And... more info $12.95was $49.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Eugene Curran Kelly Died: February 2, 1996
Born: August 23, 1912 Cause of Death: complications from a series of strokes
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, choreographer, dancer, director, dance instructor, ditch digger, gas station attendant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

By John Charles was even more impressive "On the Town" (1949). Having gained some experience directing while in the service, Kelly both starred in and made his directorial bow with "Town," sharing helming duties with Stanley Donen, a talented, young choreographer who had previously worked with Kelly on "Cover Girl" and "Anchors Aweigh." The two first-time directors picked a production that had more than the usual challenges, in that the customary studio work was complemented by some New York City location shooting at various Big Apple landmarks. This was a very rare occurrence for musicals of the time, which were almost always lensed on the studio back lots under closely controlled conditions, and helped to enhance the film's appeal. "Black Hand" (1950) offered Gene Kelly an unusual change of pace role as an Italian immigrant battling the Mafia in New York City, but he quickly returned to familiar territory with "Summer Stock" (1950), his final collaboration with a then very troubled Judy Garland. After the inclusion of a ballet sequence in "The Pirate," "An American in Paris" (1951) successfully incorporated a beautifully staged and shot routing that ran a then-unheard of 18 minutes. The...

By John Charles was even more impressive "On the Town" (1949). Having gained some experience directing while in the service, Kelly both starred in and made his directorial bow with "Town," sharing helming duties with Stanley Donen, a talented, young choreographer who had previously worked with Kelly on "Cover Girl" and "Anchors Aweigh." The two first-time directors picked a production that had more than the usual challenges, in that the customary studio work was complemented by some New York City location shooting at various Big Apple landmarks. This was a very rare occurrence for musicals of the time, which were almost always lensed on the studio back lots under closely controlled conditions, and helped to enhance the film's appeal. "Black Hand" (1950) offered Gene Kelly an unusual change of pace role as an Italian immigrant battling the Mafia in New York City, but he quickly returned to familiar territory with "Summer Stock" (1950), his final collaboration with a then very troubled Judy Garland. After the inclusion of a ballet sequence in "The Pirate," "An American in Paris" (1951) successfully incorporated a beautifully staged and shot routing that ran a then-unheard of 18 minutes. The multiple Oscar-winning production also introduced Kelly's discovery Leslie Caron, who took the lead role when Cyd Charisse dropped out due to pregnancy. As fine as "An American in Paris" was, Kelly's next film was the crown jewel in MGM's musical catalogue and widely regarded as the greatest musical of all time. Set during the time when talking pictures were being introduced in a post-silent era Hollywood, "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) was a delightful, rollicking tribute to moviemaking. Kelly's remarkable choreography, including his show-stopping "Moses Supposes" tap dancing number with Donald O'Connor and, of course, Kelly's performance of the title song, performed on a rain swept street complete with an umbrella as prop, helped make this one of the most beloved musicals ever produced. Although the movie was inexplicably shut out at the Oscars, Kelly and Donen shared a Director's Guild of America Award for their efforts and Kelly received a special Academy Award that year in recognition of his amazing achievements both on and off the silver screen. While not as well known as many MGM musicals, the company's adaptation of the Broadway smash "Brigadoon" (1954) had plentiful charm and offered the first chance for audiences to see Kelly glide his way across the wide CinemaScope frame. Originally planned as a direct follow-up to "On the Town," "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955) was slightly darker that most of Kelly's musicals from this time, with the relationship between its three protagonists strained for part of the running time, but still ended in very upbeat fashion. Kelly co-directed once again with Donen, and the show-stopping sequence came early on, with Kelly and fellow leading men Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd dancing on, around and through a taxi cab, and finally adding grace to garbage by tap dancing with trash can lids attached to their feet. Kelly directed solo on "Invitation to the Dance" (1956), an ambitious project that sought to tell three stories solely through dance (including one starring Kelly and featuring him interacting again with animation) and no dialogue. However, the project, which started filming in 1952, experienced any number of problems, and had been greatly reworked by the time it finally appeared four years later. Although it was a success overseas, "Invitation to the Dance" failed domestically, a signal that audiences had started to tire of this sort of fare. After 15 years and numerous hits for MGM, the following year's "Les Girls" (1957) was Kelly's last musical for the company. The actor's marriage to Blair also ended that year. An outspoken liberal, Blair ended up blacklisted, but was able to find some work thanks to Kelly's intervention, including "Marty" (1955), which earned her an Oscar nomination. In later life, Blair described Kelly, who was also a progressive liberal, as a hardworking, attentive and near perfect husband, but divorced him because she desired her freedom. With MGM no longer producing musicals, Kelly directed and starred in "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958) opposite a young Natalie Wood and "The Tunnel of Love" (1958), as well as helming a successful run of "Flower Drum Song" (1958-60) on Broadway. In 1960, he married dancer Jeanne Coyne and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stanley Kramer's acclaimed drama about the real-life controversy generated by the teaching of evolution in schools during the 1920s, "Inherit the Wind" (1960) found Kelly in fine dramatic form as a journalist based on famous writer H.L. Mencken. Kelly also explored series television with "Going My Way" (ABC, 1962-63), a network version of the hit 1944 feature, with Kelly assuming the Father O'Malley role originated by Bing Crosby. The hour-long comedy failed to click with viewers, however, and was cancelled after one season. By this time, directing became Kelly's primary occupation. In addition to theatrical features like "Gigot" (1962), "A Guide for the Married Man" (1967) and "The Cheyenne Social Club" (1970), he also directed and starred in an Emmy Award-winning adaptation of "Jack and the Beanstalk" (CBS, 1967). His main accomplishment at this time was "Hello Dolly!" (1969), a big-budget version of the Broadway hit that helped to solidify Barbra Streisand as a major box office attraction. Kelly returned to television as host of "The Funny Side" (NBC, 1971), a comedy series that included song and dance numbers. Although the program garnered an Emmy Award, it was gone from the air waves after only four months. Coyne died of leukaemia at the young age of 50 in 1973, and aside from a supporting role in the comedy "40 Carats" (1973), Kelly was mostly inactive throughout the 1970s. However, his talents were seen on movie screens around the world once again when MGM scored a surprise hit with "That's Entertainment!" (1974), a collection of memorable sequences from their library of classic musicals, which included clips from such Kelly outings as "Singin' in the Rain" and "An American in Paris" as well as new footage of the star in bookend segments. The studio also tapped Kelly to direct linking sequences and/or do additional hosting duties for the follow-ups "That's Entertainment, Part II" (1976), "That's Dancing" (1985), and "That's Entertainment III" (1994). It was a shame these compilation extravaganzas were not released at the end of Kelly's motion picture career, as his final two original entries in his filmography were simply embarrassing. "Viva Knievel!" (1977) was a ludicrous attempt to create a motion picture career for the charmless (and frequently unsuccessful) daredevil Evel Knievel, with Kelly wasted in a nothing role as his alcoholic mechanic. Even more unfortunate was the disastrous Olivia Newton-John musical fantasy "Xanadu" (1980) in which he played a character bearing the name of his leading man from "Cover Girl," but that was where any resemblance between the two productions ended. Despite its critical drubbing, "Xanadu" did provide Kelly with his final onscreen dance with Newton-John, giving the roller disco musical its one touch of class. Kelly earned his final acting credits in a pair of miniseries, the Civil War epic "North and South" (ABC, 1985) and "Sins" (CBS, 1986), and accepted Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Film Institute and the Screen Actors Guild in 1985 and 1989, respectively. In 1990, the star married his third wife, Patricia Ward, and they remained together until Kelly passed away on Feb. 2, 1996 from complications brought about by a pair of strokes he had suffered. It was safe to say that with the death of Astaire in 1987 and Kelly nine years later, the two greatest dance innovators in cinema history officially brought the curtain down on the Golden Age of movie musicals.als.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  That's Entertainment! II (1976) Director (New Sequences)
2.
3.
  Hello, Dolly! (1969) Director
4.
  Jack and the Beanstalk (1967) Director
5.
6.
  Gigot (1962) Director
7.
  The Tunnel of Love (1958) Director
8.
  The Happy Road (1957) Director
9.
  Invitation to the Dance (1956) Director
10.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 That's Entertainment! III (1994) Host; Song Performer
4.
 MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) (Archival Footage)
6.
 Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988) Himself (Archival Footage)
7.
 That'S Dancing! (1985) Narration
8.
 Reporters (1981)
9.
 Xanadu (1980) Danny Mcguire
10.
 Viva Knievel! (1977) Will Atkins
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1932:
Took over mother's dance school and renamed it Gene Kelly's Studio of the Dance
1934:
Performed dance act with his brother Fred
1935:
Made unsuccessful RKO screen test
1938:
Debut as stage dance director/choreographer, "Hold Your Hats", Pittsburgh Playhouse
1938:
Moved to New York; made Broadway debut as dancer in "Leave It to Me"
1941:
Starred as Joey Evans on Broadway in "Pal Joey"
1941:
Signed 7 year contract with David O Selznick
1943:
Made first non-musical films, "The Cross of Lorraine" and "Pilot No. 5", both WWII dramas
1944:
First film as choreographer, "Cover Girl"
:
Served in US Naval Air Service
1950:
Feature directorial debut (co-directed with Stanley Donen), "On the Town" (also co-starred)
1956:
First solo directorial credits, "The Happy Road", a non-musical children's film in which he also starred, and "Invitation to the Dance", an all-dance film which he also wrote and choreographed
1957:
Last film as performer for MGM, "Les Girls"
1958:
Directed the MGM comedy, "The Tunnel of Love", starring Doris Day and Richard Widmark; end of association with MGM
1959:
Hosted the TV specials, "The Gene Kelly Pontiac Special" and "The Gene Kelly Show"
:
TV series debut, starring as Father Charles O'Malley in the ABC hour-long comedy-drama series, "Going My Way", based on the hit film of 1944
1964:
Directed and produced the TV comedy pilot, "At Your Service", starring Van Johnson; pilot not picked up as series
1967:
First and only non-USA film credit, "The Young Girls of Rochefort", a musical comedy directed by Jacques Demy in which he starred
1970:
Last directorial credit for a feature-length fictional film, "The Cheyenne Social Club"
1976:
Final directorial credit, handling new sequences for the compilation film, "That's Entertainment Part 2"
1980:
Final major film acting performance, "Xanadu"
1994:
Final onscreen appearance, one of the hosts of "That's Entertainment! III", a compilation film
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Peabody High School: -
University of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania -
St Raphael's Catholic School: -
Pennsylvania State University: University Park , Pennsylvania - 1933

Notes

"Where Fred Astaire glided across shiny dance floors, Gene Kelly bounced. Where Fred tapped, Gene stomped. Where Fred was an airy continental concoction, Gene was an all-American jock--and his rise to stardom revitalized the movie musical. Kelly's apotheosis came when he sang "Singin' in the Rain". ... High-voiced and easy, alone in the patently fake downpour of a studio set, Kelly reveled in the plastic bliss of a world where one can breathe out one's longings in song and dance." --From Entertainment Weekly, January 10, 1992.

He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame (1992)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Betsy Blair. Actor. Married in 1941; divorced in 1957; later married and divorced director Karel Reisz; mother of Kelly's oldest child.
wife:
Jeanne Coyne. Dancer. Married from 1960 until her death in 1973; formerly married to Stanley Donen; had two children with Kelly.
wife:
Patricia Ward Kelly. Journalist. Married in 1990 when she was 32; met Kelly on a writing assignment; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
James Patrick Joseph Kelly. Theatrical manager. Al Jolson's road manager in the 1920s.
mother:
Harriet Kelly. Dance studio owner, amateur actor.
sister:
Harriet Joan Kelly. Child performer. Oldest sibling; performed with siblings as The Five Kellys.
brother:
James Kelly. Child performer. Born c. 1910; performed with siblings as The Five Kellys; died c. 1989.
sister:
Louise Kelly. Child performer. Performed with siblings as The Five Kellys.
brother:
Fred Kelly. Dancer, actor, dance teacher. Born on June 29, 1916; younger made sole film appearance when he danced with Gene Kelly in "Deep in My Heart", a biopic of Sigmund Romberg in which the two had guest spots; later operated a dance studio (one of his students was a young John Travolta); died of cancer on March 15, 2000.
daughter:
Kerry Kelly. Mother, Betsy Blair.
son:
Timothy Kelly. Mother, Jeanne Coyne.
daughter:
Bridget Kelly. Costumer. Mother, Jeanne Coyne.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Cinema of Gene Kelly" Museum of Modern Art
"Gene Kelly -- Versatility Personified" St Austell, Primestyle Ltd.
"The Films of Gene Kelly" Citadel Press
"Gene Kelly: A Biography" Regnery
"Gene Kelly" Pyramid Books
"Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams" Back Stage Books
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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