One of five children born to a record company sales executive and a former actress, Kelly dreamed of becoming a professional athlete but was redirected into dancing by his mother. He studied ballet and other dance forms. He toured in vaudeville with his brother Fred later a prolific stage and television director , and for several years he ran a successful dancing school in Pittsburgh. On seeing the play, film producer David O. Selznick offered Kelly a Hollywood contract, and Kelly accepted, doing so because Selznick did not require a screen test of him. Kelly made his film debut opposite Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal , immediately endearing himself to moviegoers with his carefree acting and spontaneous athletic dancing style. It was not until he was loaned to Columbia Pictures to costar in the Rita Hayworth musical Cover Girl that he was able to bring his own special artistic vision to the big screen.
Further Reading on Gene Kelly
Eugene Curran Kelly August 23, — February 2, was an American actor, dancer, singer, filmmaker, comedian and choreographer. He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, and the likable characters that he played on screen. Best known today for his performances in films such as On the Town which was his directorial debut, An American in Paris , Anchors Aweigh — for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor —and Singin' in the Rain , he starred in musical films until they fell out of fashion in the late s. Later, he starred in two films outside the musical genre: Inherit the Wind and What a Way to Go! His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences.
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Although Gene Kelly established his reputation as an actor and dancer, his contribution to the Hollywood musical also embraces choreography and direction. Gene Kelly's experiments with dance and with ways of filming it include combining dance and animation Anchors Aweigh and Invitation to the Dance , and special effects The "Alter Ego" number in Cover Girl and the split-screen dance of It's Always Fair Weather. His first attempts at film choreography relied on the established formulas of the film musical, but subsequently, particularly in the three films he co-directed with Stanley Donen, he developed a flexible system of choreography for the camera that took into account camera setups and movement, and editing.