Square-jawed and handsome screen dance legend Eugene Curran Kelly (1912-1996) was born on this day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His dance, choreography, and direction revolutionized the Hollywood musical.
About dancing, Kelly once said, "So many young men who have talent are put off by the belief that is is an effeminate business."
As a child, he dreamed of playing shortstop for the Pittsburg Pirates, but his mother, a former stage actress, pushed him to dance. In 1938, he made his Broadway debut and was an instant hit in his film debut with Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal (1942).
Kelly was a dazzling motion picture dance genius whose innovations led the Golden Age of film. As a choreographer and director, he was one of the best because he understood and celebrated the passion of dance.
"You learn to use the camera as part of the choreogaphy," he explained. "Film dancing will always be a problem because the eye of the camera is coldly realistic, demanding everything looks natural, and dancing is unrealistic."
As a dancer, he was known for acrobatic talent and masculine physical strength. The beloved hoofer once said, "If Fred Astaire is the Cary Grant of dance, I'm the Marlon Brando."
Kelly made movie magic on a deserted rain-drenched street in Singin' in the Rain (1952) with nothing but a few puddles, a lamp post, and an umbrella. The performance became his signature piece.
In 1977, he reminisced about the experience: "I've made a lot of films that were bigger hits and made more money, but now they look dated. But this one, out of all my pictures, has a chance to last."
Kelly received an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award (1985) and President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Freedom (1994).
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Memories linger and whisper joy.