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Gene Kelly was a dancer whose athletic style transformed the movie musical and did much to change the American public's conception of male dancers.
Gene Kelly - Remembered (2:06)
Gene Kelly - On the Town (2:42)
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.
Shooting on location in New York City, Gene Kelly and Frank Sintatra starred in the movie adaption of "On the Town," in which they sang the song "New York, New York, It's a Wonderful Town" while dressed as sailors.
Gene Kelly worked many odd jobs to pay for college and eventually found his way into the dance world. After his brother, Fred, taught him some dance steps, they performed together in a dance troupe.
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He starred in two short-lived programs—Going My Way, an adaptation of the 1944 Bing Crosby movie, and a 1971 variety show called The Funny Side. Kelly fared better with the 1967 television movie Jack and the Beanstalk, which he directed, produced and starred in. The children's telefilm netted him an Emmy Award. To promote and preserve the great film musicals of the past, Kelly also helped host the documentary That's Entertainment!
in the mid-1970s.
In the 1980s, Kelly largely retreated from acting. He made his last film appearance in the 1980 musical fantasy Xanadu with Olivia Newton-John, which proved to be a box-office dud. On the small screen, Kelly had a few supporting roles and guest spots on such series as The Muppet Show and The Love Boat. He often appeared as himself on tribute specials.
In 1994 and in 1995, Kelly suffered a series of strokes. He died on February 2, 1996, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Many Hollywood stars mourned his passing, including his Singin' in the Rain co-star, Debbie Reynolds. "There'll never be another Gene," she told the press. "I was only 18 when we made that movie, and the hardest thing was keeping up with his energy."
In July 2012, New York City's Film Society of Lincoln Center hosted a month-long program in honor of Kelly, showing nearly two dozen of Kelly's films.
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