Gene Kelly Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1912 – 1996 *** Full Name: Gene Kelly was also known as Eugene Curran Kell *** Date of Birth (Birthday): He was born on August 23, 1912 *** Place of Birth: Gene Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania *** Family background: His father was James Patrick Joseph Kelly *** Early life and childhood: Gene Kelly grew up and spent the majority of his life in Pennsylvania *** Education: Gene Kelly began his education at St. Raphael Elementary School *** Gene Kelly died on February 2, 1996 ***
Gene Kelly Fact 1: Eugene Curran 'Gene' Kelly was born on August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.
Gene Kelly Fact 2: He was an American dancer, singer, producer, film and television actor who is well known for his dashing good looks and most famous for his incredible appearance in 'Dancing in the Rain'.
Gene Kelly Fact 3: His parents were called James Patrick Joseph Kelly and Harriet Catherine Curran. His father was a phonograph salesman of Irish Canadian descent. Gene Kelly had four siblings of which he was the third eldest.
Gene Kelly Fact 4: As per his mother's request, he began dance lessons with his brother James when he was eight years old. Neither sibling enjoyed the classes, and Gene Kelly later said, "We didn't like it much and were continually involved in fistfights with the neighborhood boys who called us sissies...I didn't dance again until I was fifteen."
Gene Kelly Fact 5: Gene Kelly received his early education from St. Raphael Elementary School. He enjoyed sports, in particular, baseball, in which he played shortstop. He was strong and athletic, and by the time he returned to dance at the age of 15, he could defend himself from potential bullies.
Gene Kelly Fact 6: He continued his education at Peabody High School. He graduated when he was 16 years old and joined Pennsylvania State College as a journalism major. The devastating Wall Street Crash occurred in 1929 which left Gene Kelly compelled to leave college and begin work in order to support his family.
Gene Kelly Fact 7: Gene Kelly continued dancing and made up acts with his brother Fred. The sibling duo entered various contests and made local performances.
Gene Kelly Fact 8: Gene Kelly returned to education in 1931 when he joined the University of Pittsburgh, he graduated in 1933. At the university, he was introduced to the Cap and Gown Club which he remained active with for a number of years. The Cap and Gown Club enabled him to stage musical productions and he served as the club's director for four years from 1934. He entered Law School at the University of Pittsburgh.
Gene Kelly Fact 9: His family established a dance school in Pittsburgh which was renamed the Gene Kelly Studio of Dance in 1932. Gene Kelly was a teacher at the dance studio whilst he was a university student.
Gene Kelly Fact 10: After two months at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, Gene Kelly decided to drop out in order to pursue a career in dance. He continued teaching at The Gene Kelly Studio of Dance before moving to New York City to search for work as a choreographer. He soon returned to Pittsburgh where he became a choreographer at the Pittsburgh Playhouse with Charles Gaynor. Gene Kelly Fact 16: He became recognized as an incredible dancer when he starred in 'Cover Girl' with Rita Hayworth. He created his own dance routine for the musical film which incorporated Gene Kelly dancing to his own shadow.
Gene Kelly Fact 11: He first appeared on Broadway in 1938 in 'Leave It to Me!'. An American dancer and choreographer called Robert Alton hired Gene Kelly as a dancer. This led to his appearance in 'One for the Money' where he was hired to sing, act and dance.
Gene Kelly Fact 12: He danced to his own choreography for the first time on Broadway in 'The Time of Your Life' in October 1939. This was a great step for Gene Kelly who was offered a Broadway choreographer role later that same year for Diamond Horseshoe.
Gene Kelly Fact 13: Gene Kelly met his future wife, Betsy Blair, when he was working as a choreographer on Billy Rose's Diamond Horseback. Betsy Blair worked in the chorus, she later quoted in her autobiography that "Gene fought for me. He said I could dance, and he needed some good dancers." The couple married in October 1941 and went on to have a daughter. They divorced in 1957. He remarried again in 1960 to Jeanne Coyne and remained with her until her death in 1973. He remarried for the third time in 1990 to Patricia Ward whom he was with until his own death in 1996. Gene Kelly had three children in total.
Gene Kelly Fact 14: Following his appearance in Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, he quickly rose to stardom and was offered numerous Hollywood roles. He agreed to stay in New York until October 1941, so that he could complete his role in Pal Joey. He caught the eye of MGM executive Louis B. Mayer who offered him a movie contract.
Gene Kelly Fact 15: He starred as Harry Palmer in the American musical film 'For Me and My Gal' in 1942 with Judy Garland. This was his first motion picture which led to many others over the next coming years including Christmas Holiday, Du Barry Was a Lady, and Thousands Cheer.
Gene Kelly Fact 17: His passion for film production prevailed when Gene Kelly was enlisted with the United States Naval Air Service in 1944. He was stationed in Washington D.C. in the Photographic Section. His position involved directing documentaries.
Gene Kelly Fact 18: The American Film Institute named him 15th in their Greatest Male Stars: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars list of Hollywood actors and actresses who made American screen legend. Some of his most famous and celebrated appearances over the years include his lead role in Singin' in the Rain, his animated dance routine with Jerry Mouse in Anchors Aweigh, and his duets with Frank Sinatra in On The Town.
Gene Kelly Fact 19: Gene Kelly appeared in Singin' in the Rain in 1952. Gene Kelly formed one of the most recognized dance routines in history when he danced in the rain with an umbrella.
Gene Kelly Fact 20: Gene Kelly died on February 2, 1996 at the age of 83 as a result of a stroke. His body was cremated, he didn't have a funeral or memorial service.
Influence & Legacy: Gene Kelly was an incredible American dancer, director, singer and actor who starred in many theatre shows and musical films. One of his most celebrated dance routines came from Singin in the Rain in which he performed a solo dance with an umbrella.