Gene Kelly

Kelly, Gene, 1912–96, American dancer, choreographer, movie actor, and director, b. Pittsburgh. Kelly started dancing on Broadway in 1938 and first gained fame in the title role of the Broadway musical Pal Joey (1940). He moved to Hollywood in 1941 and soon starred in his first film, For Me and My Gal (1942). His best-known work was in motion pictures, where he excelled in an inventive combination of camera and dance techniques in such films as On the Town (1949), An American in Paris (1951; Academy Award), Singin' in the Rain (1952)—which contains his single most famous performance—and Invitation to the Dance (1956). Athletically graceful, a skillful and expressive dancer with a joyfully muscular yet lyrical style, he also sang in a thin yet appealing voice. Kelly appeared in such film musicals as Anchors Aweigh (1945), Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949), Brigadoon (1954), and Les Girls (1957). He also played dramatic film roles, as in Inherit the Wind (1960), and directed several movies, including The Happy Road (1950) and Hello Dolly (1969).

See biographies by C. Hirschhorn (1975) and A. Yudkoff (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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