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Interesting Facts About Gene Kelly

Updated on December 22, 2013
Gene Kelly (right) and Frank Sinatra
Gene Kelly (right) and Frank Sinatra | Source

Gene Kelly is arguably one of the most talented and charismatic dancers of the twentieth century. From Anchors Aweigh to Singin’ in the Rain, he dazzled us, he charmed us, he captivated us. It’s hard to imagine Gene Kelly doing anything but dancing, yet surprisingly, he didn’t come out of the womb pirouetting. In fact, when his mother enrolled him and his brother in dance classes as young children, Gene rebelled. According to him they “didn’t like it very much and were continually involved in fistfights with neighborhood boys who called us sissies.” It would be another seven years before he made his way back to the dance floor! This is just one of the many interesting tidbits about this incredible dancer’s life. Below are some more fun facts about Gene Kelly – enjoy!

Fun Facts About Gene Kelly

  • Born Eugene Curran Kelly on August 23, 1912
  • Was married three times
  • Graduated high school at the age of 16
  • Sustained the half-moon shaped scar that marks his left cheek during a bike accident as a kid
  • Is quoted as saying “I never wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to be a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
  • Didn’t star in his most memorable role in Singin’ in the Rain until more than a decade after he entered Hollywood
  • Third of five children born to Harriet Catherine Curran and James Patrick Joseph Kelly
  • Could speak fluent French
  • Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in 1931 to study economics and earned his degree two years later
  • Had a fever of 103 degrees while filming the rain scene in Singin’ in the Rain
  • Married his first wife, a dancer named Betsy Blair, in 1941when he was 29 years old – they had one child, Kerry Kelly, before divorcing in 1957
  • Had been teaching dance at a synagogue for seven years before moving to New York City in 1937 to focus on work as a choreographer
  • Had enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh Law School to study law during the 1930s, but dropped out after two months to focus on performing
  • Was working on an autobiography at the time of his death
  • Stood 5’ 7” tall
  • Had his first career breakthrough in 1939 at the age of 27 when he was cast in the Pulitzer-Prize winning Broadway show The Time of Your Life
  • Had two children with his second wife at the age of 48 – Bridget Kelly and Tim Kelly
  • Made his first film appearance alongside Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal (1942)
  • Signed a contract with MGM in 1951 to spend nineteen months in Europe making three pictures while personally benefiting from tax exemptions – this decision was later seen as a serious mistake
  • Made a foray into television in the 1960s and even appeared in a short-lived series entitled Going My Way – it lasted only 30 episodes
  • Studied Spanish dancing under Angel Cansino, Rita Hayworth’s uncle
  • Was set to star with Judy Garland in Easter Parade (1948) but had to bow out because he broke his ankle playing volleyball – Fred Astaire came out of retirement to replace him
  • Was raised Catholic but severed ties with the church in 1939 and became agnostic
  • Was a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers (having been born in Pittsburgh, PA) and the New York Yankees
  • Died in 1996 from complications of two strokes

Gene Kelly in Singin in the Rain

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