Kelly, Gene

Kelly, Gene
orig. Eugene Curran Kelly

born Aug. 23, 1912, Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.
died Feb. 2, 1996, Beverly Hills, Calif.

U.S. dancer, choreographer, actor, and movie director.

After training at his mother's dance school in Pittsburgh, he moved to New York in 1938 and danced in Broadway musicals, creating the title role in Pal Joey in 1940. Beginning in 1942, his athletic style and carefree acting
exemplified in the popular Anchors Aweigh (1945), On the Town (1949), An American in Paris (1951), and Singin' in the Rain (1952), which he also helped choreograph and direct
became hallmarks of the movie musical. His achievements earned him a special Academy Award in 1951. He later choreographed and directed numerous other movies and created a ballet for the Paris Opéra (1960).

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▪ American actor, dancer, and director
in full  Eugene Curran Kelly  
born August 23, 1912, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
died February 2, 1996, Beverly Hills, California

      American dancer, actor, choreographer, and motion picture director whose athletic style of dancing, combined with classical ballet technique, transformed the movie musical and did much to change the American public's conception of male dancers.

      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 majored in journalism at Pennsylvania State College (now University) and economics at the University of Pittsburgh (A.B., 1933), but the allure of performing proved too strong to resist. He toured in vaudeville with his brother Fred (later a prolific stage and television director), and for several years ran a successful dancing school in Pittsburgh. In 1938 he moved to New York City and won a role as a chorus member in Cole Porter (Porter, Cole)'s Leave It to Me, figuring prominently in star Mary Martin (Martin, Mary)'s showstopping number “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” The following year he was cast in the flashy role of Harry the Hoofer in William Saroyan (Saroyan, William)'s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Time of Your Life and in 1940 he achieved stardom with his likeable interpretation of the raffish protagonist in the Rodgers and Hart musical drama Pal Joey. Before leaving New York in 1941, he also choreographed the hit musicals Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe (1940) and Best Foot Forward (1941).

      Invited to Hollywood by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.) in 1942, he made his film debut opposite Judy Garland (Garland, Judy) in For Me and My Gal, immediately endearing himself to moviegoers with his carefree acting and spontaneous, athletic dancing style. But it was not until he was loaned to Columbia (Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc.) Pictures to costar in the Rita Hayworth (Hayworth, Rita) musical Cover Girl (1944) that he was able to bring his own special artistic vision to the big screen. Before Kelly's arrival, the movie musical had been divided into essentially two basic styles: the splashy, impersonal, girl-filled extravaganzas of Busby Berkeley (Berkeley, Busby) and the intimate personality vehicles of Fred Astaire (Astaire, Fred). Kelly adroitly bridged the gap between Berkeley's cinematic pyrotechnics and Astaire's straightforward theatrical approach with Cover Girl's “Alter Ego” number, in which, with the aid of meticulously timed special-effects work, he performed a two-man “challenge dance” with himself. He introduced another innovation in Anchors Aweigh (1945), when he danced with an animated-cartoon mouse, and in The Pirate (1948) he staged the first of his many filmed ballets, boldly blending solo dancing, mass movement, offbeat camera angles, and vibrant colours to tell a story in purely visual terms.

      On the Town (1949), codirected by Kelly and his longtime assistant Stanley Donen, further transcended the limits of the Hollywood soundstage with an unforgettable opening musical number filmed entirely on location in the streets of New York City. Kelly surpassed this triumph two years later with the Academy Award-winning An American in Paris (1951). Climaxed by a spectacular 13-minute ballet that incorporated visual motifs of French Post-Impressionism, the film was singled out by critics and filmgoers alike as Kelly's masterpiece. Since the mid-1970s, however, its reputation has been eclipsed by Singin' in the Rain (1952), a witty and upbeat spoof of Hollywood during the talkie revolution. With its perfectly balanced mixture of singing, dancing, comedy, and romance, Singin' in the Rain is now universally regarded as the greatest film musical ever made.

      He subsequently codirected and starred in It's Always Fair Weather (1955), one of the few musicals to make creative use of the CinemaScope (wide-screen) format. Equally praiseworthy was his first solo directorial effort, the wordless concert feature Invitation to the Dance (filmed in 1952, released in 1956). But as the '50s wore on, the movie-musical genre fell victim to mounting production costs and diminishing box-office returns. Consequently, Kelly's film career lost much of its momentum, though he made several credible dramatic appearances in such films as Crest of the Wave (1954) and Inherit the Wind (1960). He also directed but did not appear in The Tunnel of Love (1958), Gigot (1962), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), Hello Dolly! (1969), and The Cheyenne Social Club (1970). During the last three decades of his life, he received dozens of awards and honours, among them the French Legion of Honour for his choreography of the Paris Opéra Ballet “Pas de Deux” (1960) and a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Despite periodic illnesses, he remained active until two years before his death.

Additional Reading
Clive Hirschhorn, Gene Kelly: A Biography (1974, reissued 1984); Alvin Yudkoff, Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams (1999).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kelly, Gene — ► (1912 96) Nombre artístico de Eugene P. Kelly, actor, coreógrafo y director cinematográfico estadounidense. Películas: Un americano en París (1951) y Cantando bajo la lluvia, entre otras. * * * orig. Eugene Curran Kelly (23 ago. 1912,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Kelly, Gene — pseud. di Kelly, Eugene Curran …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Kelly. Gene — • КЕ ЛЛИ (Kelly) Джин (наст. имя Юджин Кёрран) (р. 23.8.1912)    амер. актёр, режиссёр, хореограф. В 1933 окончил Питсбургский ун т. В кон. 30 х гг. открыл частную школу танца, выступал в спектаклях разл. трупп. В кино с 1942 ( Для меня и моей… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Gene Kelly — en 1986. Nombre real Eugene Curran Kelly Nacimiento 23 de agosto de 1912 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kelly — Kelly, Gene * * * (as used in expressions) Kelly, Ellsworth Kelly, Gene Eugene Curran Kelly Kelly, George George Kelly Barnes, Jr. Machine Gun Kelly Kelly, Grace Kelly, Walt(er Crawford) Kelly, William …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gene Kelly — Infobox Actor name = Gene Kelly imagesize = 215px caption = from Take Me Out to the Ball Game trailer birthname = Eugene Curran Kelly birthdate = 23 August fy|1912 birthplace = Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. deathdate = 2 February fy|1996 (aged… …   Wikipedia

  • Gene Kelly — noun United States dancer who performed in many musical films (1912 1996) • Syn: ↑Kelly, ↑Eugene Curran Kelly • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dancer, ↑professional dancer, ↑terpsichorean, ↑choreographer, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • gene — /jeen/, n. the basic physical unit of heredity; a linear sequence of nucleotides along a segment of DNA that provides the coded instructions for synthesis of RNA, which, when translated into protein, leads to the expression of hereditary… …   Universalium

  • Gene — /jeen/, n. a male given name, form of Eugene. * * * I Unit of heredity that occupies a fixed position on a chromosome. Genes achieve their effects by directing protein synthesis. They are composed of DNA, except in some viruses that contain RNA… …   Universalium

  • kelly — /kel ee/, n., pl. kellies, kellys. Slang. a man s stiff hat, as a derby or straw skimmer. [1910 15; generic use of surname Kelly, taken as representative of a stage Irishman wearing such a derby] * * * (as used in expressions) Kelly Ellsworth… …   Universalium

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