One of five children born to a record company sales executive and a former actress, Kelly dreamed of becoming a professional athlete but was redirected into dancing by his mother. He studied ballet and other dance forms. He toured in vaudeville with his brother Fred later a prolific stage and television director , and for several years he ran a successful dancing school in Pittsburgh.
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Who Was Gene Kelly?
His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of Irish and German ancestry. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the largest and most powerful studio in Hollywood when Gene Kelly arrived in town in He came direct from the hit original Broadway production of "Pal Joey" and planned to return to the Broadway stage after making the one film required by his contract. What kept Kelly in Hollywood were "the kindred creative spirits" he found behind the scenes at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The talent pool was especially large during World War II, when Hollywood was a refuge for many musicians and others in the performing arts of Europe who were forced to flee the Nazis. After the war, a new generation was coming of age. Those who saw An American in Paris would try to make real life as romantic as the reel life they saw portrayed in that musical, and the first time they saw Paris, they were seeing again in memory the seventeen-minute ballet sequence set to the title song written by George Gershwin and choreographed by Kelly. The sequence cost a half million dollars U. Another Kelly musical of the era, Singin' in the Rain , was one of the first 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry. Kelly was in the same league as Fred Astaire , but instead of a top hat and tails Kelly wore work clothes that went with his masculine, athletic dance style.
Films of the 1960s and beyond
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Eugene Curran Kelly August 23, — February 2, was an American actor, dancer, singer, filmmaker, comedian and choreographer. He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, and the likable characters that he played on screen. Best known today for his performances in films such as On the Town which was his directorial debut, An American in Paris , Anchors Aweigh — for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor —and Singin' in the Rain , he starred in musical films until they fell out of fashion in the late s. Later, he starred in two films outside the musical genre: Inherit the Wind and What a Way to Go! His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences. In , the American Film Institute also ranked him as the 15th greatest male screen legend of Classic Hollywood Cinema. Kelly was born in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Derry , Ireland, and his maternal grandmother was of German ancestry.