In our last blog, we discussed the talented but reluctant partnership of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Their ballroom dance scenes inspired future dancers in many generations. Their dance routines were truly magical, yet they weren’t the only talented dancers of the old Hollywood silver screen. Years later, Gene Kelly’s flashy footwork would dominate movie screens during the 1940’s and 1950’s. In fact, Kelly’s stellar footwork would often be compared to Fred Astaire. Let’s further explore the famed career of this talented dancer and actor.
Gene Kelly’s Beginnings
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1912, Kelly had modest working-class beginnings as one of five children in a working class family. Unlike his friends, who were playing baseball, Kelly grew up taking dance lessons. His hard work would pay off following college, when he broke through the Broadway stage. Following one of his Broadway performances, MGM studio executive Louis B. Mayer offered Kelly a movie contract. Kelly debuted alongside Judy Garland in the 1942 movie, For Me and My Gal.
Kelly’s Famed Movie Career
Although Kelly was often compared to Fred Astaire, he truly left his own personal mark in his dance routines. Most of his dance scenes onscreen were performed in everyday settings and regular street wear because Kelly wanted to highlight the common man in his performances. Kelly broke barriers in his dance choreography, showcasing his enthusiastic energy and innovation. In 1945, Kelly performed a dance sequence never seen before in Anchors Away; he danced a duet with a cartoon mouse. In 1951, he performed an extended ballet sequence and other energetic dance scenes in An American in Paris.
Singin In The Rain
Without a doubt, Kelly’s most famous film of all time was the 1952 movie, Singin’ in the Rain. Playing the part of Don Lockwood, a silent film star, Kelly danced in one of the most famous movie scenes of all time. Kelly’s athletic yet graceful performance is perfectly captured in the film’s namesake performance in which he joyfully dances in the midst of rainfall. The bliss in which children play in the rain served as Kelly’s inspiration in this glorious dance sequence.
Moving Away From Dancing
In the 1960s, Kelly’s career moved away from dancing and mostly into the television sphere. Acting in both TV movies and series,Kelly earned an Emmy award for Jack and the Beanstalk in 1973, a TV film that he starred in, directed, and produced. Not only was Kelly a talented dancer, but he directed and produced films with great success.
In the 1990s, Kelly’s health began to decline, and he suffered a series of strokes. In 1996, Kelly died in his Beverly Hills home, leaving behind a legacy of grace and talent. A significant number of Hollywood stars mourned his death, including his Singin’ in the Rain costar, Debbie Reynolds. She remembered his unique talent and energy, stating simply that “they’ll never be another Gene.”
Would you like to get in touch with your inner Gene Kelly (or Debbie Reynolds, for you ladies)? Experience the joy, enthusiasm, and fun workout of adult dance lessons in our ballroom dance studio in Woodbridge. Contact the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio today to get started.