Happy 104th Birthday, Gene Kelly!

Gene Kelly was born 104 years ago today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which seems apt, given that he was something of a blue-collar hoofer. As Kelly once put it, “Fred Astaire represented the aristocracy, I represented the proletariat.” Here are 10 GK Did-You-Knows:

  • Kelly’s father was of Irish descent, and his mother was Irish and German.
  • Kelly’s father was Al Jolson‘s road manager in the 1920s.
  • He attended Penn State University for a while before graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in economics.
  • At Pitt, Kelly was a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity.
  • He and his younger brother, Fred, had a dance act in vaudeville. Fred eventually replaced Gene as Harry the Hoofer in the 1939 Broadway production of The Time of Your Life.
  • While Kelly was starring in Pal Joey on Broadway, he signed a contract with producer David O. Selznick. Selznick, after struggling to find a suitable role for Kelly, sold his contract to MGM.
  • Kelly was fighting a high fever while filming the iconic rain scene in Singin’ in the Rain.
  • The first two of Kelly’s three wives were dancers.
  • He was a dance consultant for Madonna‘s 1993 Girlie Show tour.
  • Kelly was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Happy birthday, Gene Kelly, wherever you may be!

Gene Kelly

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