TODAY WOULD have been Gene Kelly’s 108th birthday.
The popular Irish-American was an incredible talent—he was an actor, singer, film director, producer and choreographer, but most people around the world remember him for his incredible dancing skills.
Kelly’s maternal grandfather was an immigrant who came from Derry on the island of Ireland, and Gene Kelly himself was born in Pittsburgh.
The entertainer originally studied to become a lawyer but could not deny his passion for dance, and so dropped out of law school after a mere two months to pursue his dream.
It was the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Time of Your Life which made people start noticing the young entertainer, and his career began to skyrocket. He was asked to choreograph Broadway’s Diamond Horseshoe, and it was while working on this set that he met his wife, Betsy Blair.
His lead role in Joey was when he began to be noticed in Hollywood, and his life as a film star began.
He starred alongside Judy Garland and Rita Hayworth, performed a duet with Frank Sinatra and even danced with the cartoon mouse Jerry, from Tom and Jerry, and even assisted in giving Fred Astaire his big break when a broken ankle forced Kelly to withdraw from Easter Parade.
His most famous film by far was Singin’ In The Rain, a song which, more than sixty years later, gets stuck in your head just from reading the name.
The Irish-American was proud of his roots, and Ireland was proud to have him—he was granted Irish citizenship late in life, assisted by his wife Betsy.
He died aged 83 at his home in Beverly Hills, but his legacy lives on.