Arguably the best dancing in a movie musical occurred in the 1952 production of Singin’ in the Rain. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, this film contains plenty of fancy footwork to delight filmgoers of all demographics.
A physically taxing film shoot, Debbie Reynolds was carried off the set after a particularly grueling 14-hour shoot that resulted in bleeding feet. Even seasoned stage performer Donald O’Connor was so exhausted following the film shoot that he rested in bed for a week straight. Even if you’ve watched this classic musical hundreds of times, you may not know these interesting facts about its production:
Gene Kelly Performed with a Fever
Undoubtedly, the most famous dance sequence in the entire movie is Gene Kelly’s solo performance of “Singin’ in the Rain.” This particular dance number took several days to shoot, and Gene Kelly wasn’t feeling well. On at least one of these days, Kelly was performing with a fever of 101 to 103 degrees. Despite his illness, this number went on to become his most famous dance sequences of all time.
Debbie Reynolds Had No Dance Experience
Cast at the young age of 19, Debbie Reynolds had no dance experience prior to making this musical. Unphased, Gene Kelly insisted that he could teach her to dance, and he lived up to his promise. Debbie Reynolds even claimed that the two hardest activities in her life were giving birth and shooting Singin’ in the Rain.
The Dance That Could Have Killed Donald O’ Connor
Donald O’Connor’s famous dance sequence, “Make ‘Em Laugh” is a truly athletic, acrobatic feat that most dancers are simply incapable of performing. He runs up the wall to perform backflips repeatedly, which could have broken his neck had he not properly executed the dance moves.
A chain smoker, O’Connor was smoking about four packs of cigarettes a day while filming his complicated athletic dance routines. Unfortunately for O’Connor, he had to reshoot the entire dance sequence due to a technical error in one of the cameras.
Cyd Charisse’s Only Smoking Experience
When Cyd Charisse appears in the musical, she’s first spotted smoking a cigarette. Prior to filming this scene, Charisse had never smoked a day in her life. In order to avoid choking on smoke, people on set taught her how to smoke. Unlike O’Connor, Charisse never smoked again following this scene.
Debbie Reynolds Was Supposed to Dance in “Broadway Melody”
The role in “Broadway Melody” was meant for Debbie Reynolds, but she just didn’t have enough dance experience to pull off the complicated routine. Although Kelly’s An American in Paris costar Leslie Caron was originally suggested for the role, she wasn’t available.
Classically trained dancer Cyd Charisse came to the rescue and the rest is history. If you watch the scene closely, you may notice that a small part was cut. Rumors say that the dance became too sexually suggestive when Charisse wrapped her legs around Kelly’s waist, but we’ll never know for sure.
Would you like to get in touch with your inner Cyd Charisse or Grace Kelly? Contact the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio in Woodbridge to take ballroom dance lessons. Taught in an encouraging atmosphere, our adult dance classes are a fun way to build your strength and express yourself creatively.