Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly was born Eugene Curran Kelly on August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father James Kelly had been a road manager for Al Jolsen in the 1920s.

Gene Kelly was a dancer, actor, singer, director, producer, and choreographer. He was known for his innovative, athletic style of dancing as oppose to Fred Astaire's smooth and agile dancing.

In 1931, Gene Kelly enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to study economics and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1933. In 1930, his family started a dance studio on Munhall Road in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. In 1932, it was renamed The Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance. A second location was opened in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1933. While still an undergraduate student and later as a student at Pittsburgh School of Law, Gene was a teacher at the dance studio. Eventually, though, he decided to pursue his career as a dance teacher and entertainer full-time and dropped out of law school after two months.

During World War II, he was a sailor stationed at the U S Naval Photographic Center in Washington D.C. He starred in several Navy films while on active duty there and in "civilian" films while on leave. He was commissioned as lieutenant, junior grade.

Gene Kelly began his career with his younger brother Fred Kelly in a dancing vaudeville act. Kelly's first broadway appearance was in 1938 in Cole Porter's Leave it To Me. He also appeared in One for the Money (1939), The Time of Your Life (1939), Pal Joey (1940) and Best Foot Forward (1941). Kelly did not return to Broadway until 1958 when he directed Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.

In 1942, Gene Kelley appeared in his first MGM picture, For Me and My Gal with Judy Garland.

His first opportunity to dance to his own choreography came in the movie Thousands Cheer (1943), where he performed a mock-love dance with a mop. After that, MGM virtually gave him a free hand to choreograph his own dance routines. One of his most famous being with Jerry Mouse in Anchors Aweigh (1945).

Some of Gene Kelly's most famous musicals (not previously mentioned) are On the Town (1949), Singin in the Rain (1952), An American in Paris (1951), Take me Out to the Ballgame (1949) and Summer Stock (1950). His last musical was Xanadu in 1980.

Gene Kelly showed a different side to his talent, drama, in 1960's Inherit the Wind and the television miniseries North and South (1985).

Gene Kelly was also a talented director. He co-directed both An American in Paris (1951) and Singin in the Rain (1952) with Stanley Donan. He also directed That's Entertainment II in 1976. He received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director for Hello Dolly (1969).

Gene Kelly was married three times and had three children. His first marriage was to Betsey Blair (1941-1957, divorced) to whom he had one child. His second marriage was to Jeanne Coyne (1960-1973, her death) to whom he had two children. His third marriage was Patricia Ward (1990-1996, his death).

Gene Kelly's one and only oscar nomination was Best Actor for Anchors Aweigh (1945). Kelly did receive the Honorary Academy Award in 1952.

Gene Kelly also received lifetime achievement awards from the Screen Actors Guild, Kennedy Center Honors and the American Film Institute.

In 1967, he received an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program for Jack and the Beanstalk.

In 1994, He was awarded the National Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

Gene Kelly passed away on February 2, 1986 do to complications from two strokes

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