Happy birthday Gene Kelly!

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Gene Kelly (August 23, 1912 — February 2, 1996) was an American film stage, and television actor. He is most remembered for his contributions to choreography in film. Perhaps his most notable piece of work came with Singin' in the Rain (1952).

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Kelly was born Eugene Curran Kelly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Harriet Catherine and James Patrick Joseph Kelly. Kelly's mother made him and his brother take dance classes, when, in fact, Kelly was much more interested in baseball. After the stock market crashed, Kelly had to abandon his studies at Pennsylvania State College to help provide for the family. He and his brother worked out dance routines to perform in talent shows for the prize money, and Kelly also taught dance at a local studio.

In 1931, Kelly enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where he ultimately became director of the school's Cap and Gown Club, which put on comedic musical productions. He worked as a dance teacher around Pittsburgh for several years, even while attending law school, before he finally moved to New York in 1937 to pursue a career as a choreographer.

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When he got to New York, he managed to grab small parts in the Broadway shows Leave It to Me! and One For the Money. But it wasn't until 1940 that Kelly got his break, after a remarkable performance in Pal Joey. He was offered a contract with MGM studios, and in 1942, he made his film debut opposite Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal.

 

 

Kelly appeared in Cover Girl (1944), Anchors Aweigh (1945) (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), On the Town (1949). Not only did he appear in these films, but he also played a major or singular role in choreographing them. An example of his choreography for film can be seen in the film An American in Paris (1951), and he received an honorary Academy Award for his work.

 

In 1952, Kelly starred in the film he is now most famous for, Singin' in the Rain. Kelly was the co-director, as well as the lead actor and choreographer. Johnny Green, who was head of music at MGM at the time the film was made, said of Kelly, "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 or the gatekeeper. He wasn't awed by anybody, and he had a good record of getting what he wanted."

 

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw the decline of the film musical, and Kelly took the hit in his own career. In an attempt to keep up with the trends, he turned to television. He starred in Going My Way and later in The Funny Side. In 1967, he directed and starred in Jack and the Beanstalk, which was more of a success than any of his other television projects.

 

Kelly appeared again in the programs The Muppet Show and The Love Boat. Other than a few select appearances, Kelly spent the 1980s mostly in retreat.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 23 August 2014
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