23 August, 1912 - 2 February, 1996
"I arrived in Hollywood twenty pounds overweight and as strong as an ox. But if I put on a white tails and tux like [Fred Astaire], I still looked like a truck driver"
Legendary Gene Kelly was a major star during the golden era of Hollywood who was considered one of the best dancer at the time, on par with Fred Astaire
. Gene had a grounded, masculine and athletic style of dancing and always seemed to play likeable characters. He began dancing at the age of 8 but quit after a while as he was teased by neighbouring boys. Then at age 15 he picked it up again as a means to impress girls. He began entering dance competitions with his brother and performing in local nightclubs where he would make up the routines and he also taught in his families dance studio.
Gene entered into law school when he was young but soon found that he enjoyed dancing more and moved to New York to find work as a choreographer. He began choreographing and dancing on the Broadway stage and was soon cast as the leading role in Rogers and Hart's Pal Joey, which propelled him to stardom. This then lead to a film contract and his first picture For Me and My Gal with Judy Garland
. During the mid 1940's he starred in numerous musicals, including Anchor's Aweigh which contains the famous scene where Gene dances with animated Jerry the Mouse.
HIs most popular movie musicals are An American In Paris (1951) and Singin' In The Rain (1952), which he starred, choreographed and co-directed. An American in Paris includes the 17 minute dream ballet sequence which, at the time, was the most expensive production number at half a million dollars. It is also the film to which he chose Leslie Caron
for and is credited for making ballet more commercially acceptable to film audiences.
As the decline of movie musicals during the late 1950's occurred, Gene still continued to choreograph routines, behind the camera and on stage and appear on television specials and made his last movie musical with Xanadu (1980). Gene's incomparable dedication to the art of dance and film makes him one of the most celebrated, memorable and legends of the golden era. His musicals remain some of the best and his name is synonymous with the word dance, making him one of the geniuses in the art form.