Known for his leading role in the 1952 classic ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ Gene Kelly was one of the most influential of MGM’s musical actors. He was born Eugene Curran Kelly on August 23, 1912, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was the third son born from James Patrick Joseph Kelly, whom was a phonograph salesman. Gene is primarily of Irish descent, from both his father and mother’s side, and is roughly one quarter German, from his maternal grandmother. Besides dancing, Gene loved baseball, and was quite a gifted sportsman as well.
His dancing career can be traced back to when he was just eight years old, when his mother enlisted him and his older brother, James, into dancing classes. Initially, both Gene and James hated it, Gene later making mention that he and James would often get into fights with other children in the neighborhood, because they had called the brothers ‘sissies.’ His interest in dancing did not resurface until he was 15. He attended Peabody High School, and graduated when he was 16. Afterwards, he enrolled into Pennsylvania State College for a major in journalism, but after the Stock Market crash of 1929, he had to quit and provide support for his family. However, in 1931, he enrolled into Pittsburg State University for economics. After graduating in 1933, his family had set up their own dancing studio, naming the Gene Kelly Studio of Dance.
In 1938, after a few years of attending various universities, he finally called it quits and decided to pursue a career of dancing. He was discontent being a dance teacher, since he noted that the drop-out rate was ‘very high.’ His first Broadway assignment was the same year, performing in Cole Porter’s ‘Leave it to Me!’ In 1939, his career as an entertainer took to the skies in the Broadway show ‘The Time of Your Life’. In 1942, Gene Kelly appeared in his first movie, ‘For Me and My Gal’, starring Judy Garland. From then on, Gene Kelly enjoyed relative success with MGM. In 1945, while in the Navy, he starred in ‘Anchors Away’, with co-star Frank Sinatra. In 1952, he starred in perhaps his most famous movie, ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ From then, Gene began to lose popularity, as did the musical genre of movies as a whole. He lived until 83 in Beverly Hills, when he dies on February 2, 1996.