Moments With Mercy - Interview with Patricia Kelly

Hello everyone, the interview soon to follow will probably be one of my all time favorite interviews because today I'm interviewing Gene Kelly's widow - Patricia Kelly!  Those of you who know me know I have a deep love of old musicals, music, and mostly everything old Hollywood. While I had seen some old Hollywood films, the first one that really made me an old Hollywood fan was "Singing In The Rain" which of course starred Gene Kelly, Donold O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Ever since the first time I saw that movie, I've been a huge fan of anything Gene Kelly. Now, when I first saw the Gene Kelly Legacy page on social media I was immediately curious and when I saw that it was run by Patricia, I immediately reached out and here we are. Just in case some of you are reading my blog and don't know anything about Gene let me tell you a little bit about him and then we'll get started.



"Eugene Curran Kelly (August 23, 1912 – February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor of film,
stage and television, singer, film director, producer and choreographer. He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, and the likeable characters that he played on screen."

And now for the interview.

1. How did you and Gene meet? 
I met Gene in 1985 when I was a writer on a television special about the Smithsonian and he was the host/narrator. The grand irony is that I didn’t go to the movies much and I didn’t watch them on TV, so I didn’t know who Gene Kelly was. In retrospect, I think that was the best way to meet him, as I had no preconceived notions about him.



2. What was his favorite part of acting and directing? 
Gene didn’t really care about performing. It was very hard work, and he didn’t like wearing makeup. He would have preferred to be behind the camera directing and choreographing. 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your work in keeping his legacy alive? 
Gene was very specific in how he wanted to be remembered – for changing the look of dance on film and for creating a particularly American style of dance. He gave me explicit directions. He also entrusted me with his archives and the story of his life so I would have the tools to inform people about his contributions. In many ways, it is an easy Legacy to represent because there are so many dimensions to Gene and his work. Plus, interest in him is very high and he continues to inspire and influence young people all around the world. 

4. Did Gene realize the impact his films such as 'Singing in the Rain" would have? Gene and the others working on films like Singin’ in Rain had no idea of the impact when they were making these movies. They never imagined that people would still be watching them 65+ years later. At the end of his life, when Singin’ in the Rain was screened regularly on TV and in theaters and selling on video, Gene had a sense that the film would last. 

5. What is one thing about Gene most people don't know? 
The breadth of his mind. Gene was a true Renaissance man. He loved poetry, art, history, literature, languages, music, and studied many subjects, including all forms of dance, economics and mathematics. 

6. Were there any of his costars that he considered friends and stayed in touch with? Gene was very close to Frank Sinatra and they were in touch until the end of Gene’s life. He was also very close to Judy Garland. She often came by the house in the early days and would sing at the piano. He was friends with Rita Hayworth, Phil Silvers, Donald O’Conner, and would see many others socially and would exchange holiday cards and other correspondence with them.

7. What was his personal favorite film he acted in? 
He often said his favorite film was On the Town because it broke new ground with the scenes shot on location in New York City. But privately he said he liked The Three Musketeers. He studied with a Belgian fencing master and enjoyed the derring-do of D’Artagnan. 

8. Tell us a little bit about your Gene Kelly - The Legacy show.
 I created GENE  KELLY: THE LEGACY in 2012 in order to celebrate Gene’s 100th birthday at the Academy of Motion Pictures. The response was so positive, that I took the show to Lincoln Center where it also sold out. It then grew like Topsy and I have been touring around the world with it since. This year it was in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Toronto, San Diego, Coronado Island, Glasgow and next year it travels to Montana, Ireland and more. People love Gene up on the screen, but they know very little about him or about how he created what you are seeing. This show takes people behind the scenes to learn more about Gene’s creative process and also about his heart. He was a terribly romantic man and the show illustrates some of his tender moments. A comment I hear frequently after the show is: “I loved him before, but I love him even more now.”



9. Did Gene dance a lot outside of his work in show business? 
Gene loved ballroom dancing but generally did not dance in public. If he stood up, the entire room wanted to dance with him.

Patricia, thank you so, so much for doing this! Readers, I hope you enjoyed!
~Mercy

Comments

  1. Nice interview Mercy. I too loved Gene Kelly, Singin' In the Rain & I could go on but won't. I can see why this interview means so much to you

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