Here are 10 things you should know about Van Johnson, born 105 years ago today. His career on stage, screen, radio and television spanned more than 55 years.
Here are 10 things you should know about Gene Kelly, born 108 years ago. He enjoyed success as a dancer, of course, but also as an actor, director, choreographer, screenwriter and producer.
Here are 10 things you should know about the beautiful and talented Rita Hayworth, born 101 years ago today. She enjoyed a charmed career but her life was, in many ways, difficult.
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!
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gene Kelly. He was an unbelievably talented performer who moved with such ease, grace and casual flair that he managed, as David Rakoff once observed, to “make you think you could do it.”
There are artists who make it quite clear that what they’re doing is beyond the reach of mere mortals, and others who almost convince us to leap out of our chairs and sing or dance or act or paint or write (well, if we’re going to write, there’s no real need to leave our chairs, but you get the idea). The world benefits from both kinds of artists, but we have a soft spot for the latter type.
Happy birthday, Mr. Kelly, wherever you are.