Best Known For
Trouper Donald O'Connor starred with Francis the Talking Mule, danced in Singing In the Rain, and was a familiar face on 1950s television.
Gene Kelly - Remembered (2:06)
While filming "Singin' in the Rain," Gene Kelly was ill, his suits were shrinking underneath the hot lights, and he filmed for days in the rain. Despite all of this, he managed to perform one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
Gene Kelly made his mark on Hollywood and, through his work both in front of and behind the camera, transformed the movie musical.
Gene Kelly, unlike Hollywood's other leading male dancer, Fred Astaire, brought an athletic quality to the movies when he danced on screen. His big break came in "Cover Girl" when he danced a duet… with himself.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Donald O'Connor was born on August 28, 1925, and was recruited into movies from his family's vaudeville act, becoming a featured dancer in low-budget musicals. After WWII, he starred in Francis the Talking Mule, which went on to have six sequels. A solo dance number in the film Singin' in the Rain (1952) launched O'Connor to A-list status. He went on to star in several other popular films, such as There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) before dying on September 27, 2003.
Actor Donald O'Connor was born on August 28, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the fourth surviving child of Effie and Edward O'Connor, two stars of vaudeville who had first won fame as Ringling Bros. circus performers. Ten months after O'Connor's birth, his 7-year-old sister Arline was struck by a car and killed. O'Connor's devastated father died of a heart attack weeks later.
During the Great Depression, the surviving O'Connor's traveled from city to city, performing for food if necessary. Effie O'Connor had become extremely overprotective of her remaining children, seeming never to completely recover from the shock of losing her daughter and husband. O'Connor joined the family act when he was just a toddler. He enjoyed being on stage, which also served as escape from his domineering mother.
In 1937, O'Connor was spotted by Paramount Pictures, and hired to play Bing Crosby's brother in Sing You Sinners (1938). The hit musical launched his career as Paramount's newest child actor. He went on to make 11 films from 1938-39, usually playing an orphan or the younger version of the film's lead, including Men With Wings (1938), Unmarried, and Beau Geste (both 1939).
After an impressive start, O'Connor's film career was abruptly put on hold. He had to return to vaudeville in the latter part of 1939, when his brother Bill suddenly died. O'Connor served as Bill's replacement, touring with the family act until 1942. Later that year, he was hired by Universal Studios and paired up with dancer Peggy Ryan. The duet joined a new Hollywood dance troupe, The Jivin' Jacks and Jills, for a series of B-musicals. The ensemble debuted in the 1942 film What's Cookin'?, for which they were credited as a group. However, O'Connor and Ryan's well-received performance earned them separate billing in their next projects.
Assuming that O'Connor would soon be called into the Army, Universal held him to a stringent work schedule, hoping to cram in as much rehearsal time as possible. As expected, on his 18th birthday, he was drafted, and the films were rushed into production. Throughout the rest of World War II, Universal continued to release the popular and profitable O'Connor/Ryan films.
While in the Army, O'Connor served in the Special Services Corps, where he was given the suitable job of entertaining his fellow soldiers. After his discharge he returned to Hollywood where he starred in Something in the Wind (1947), opposite Deanna Durbin.
profile name: Donald O'Connor profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Dance pioneers like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly—remembered for his groundbreaking performance in 1952's Singin' in the Rain—truly set the stage for Hollywood's dance-film genre. John Travolta, Jennifer Beals, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Natalie Portman are some of the performers who took up where Astaire, Rogers and Kelly left off, repopularizing dance on film for later generations. Biography.com's Famous Movie Dancers group examines the lives and careers of these high-stepping performers who will always be remembered for their unforgettable moves.
Famous Movie Dancers 16 people in this group
Famous Virgoans 598 people in this group
Famous Actors 1024 people in this group