“I’d studied dance in Chicago every summer end
taught it all winter, and I was well-rounded.
I wasn’t worried about getting a job on Broadway.
In fact, I got one the first week.”
He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, and the charming characters he played on-screen. To me he was all of these adjectives and more. He had more charisma in his little pinky than any of his contemporaries.
Eugene Curran “Gene” Kelly was born August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was just eight, when his mother enrolled him and his brother James in dance classes.
He graduated from High School at age sixteen and went on to college, majoring in journalism. But the 1929 crash forced him to work to help his family. He created dance routines with his younger brother Fred to earn prize money in local talent contests. They also performed in local nightclubs.
The family fell on hard times, so to make ends meet, his mother suggested the family open a dance studio. The Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance became quite successful which enabled Kelly to give Broadway a try. His big break came in 1939 when he danced and did his own choreography in, The Time of Your Life.
Shortly after his success on Broadway, Kelly left New York and headed for Hollywood. It didn’t take long for him to land his first part in 1942 in the motion picture, For Me and My Gal starring Judy Garland. After that, it was one successful dance movie after another. He did do a few serious movies, such as his portrayal of the character Hornbeck in the 1960 movie, Inherit the Wind.
I have several favorite Gene Kelly movies, but if I had to pick just one I’d have to pick his 1964 musical comedy/romance, What a Way To Go. This movie had an all star cast which included, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Robert Cummings and Dick Van Dyke. He performs a dance routine with Shirley MacLaine which he choreographed that is pure Gene Kelly perfection.