The film “Singin’ in the Rain” was released in 1952 and was a sensation, running almost a year at the box office. It was at one point nominated for 18 Academy Awards, but lost Best Picture to another musical, “Gone With the Wind.”
While on tour after the film’s release, Gene Kelly did not only make time for the audience — he stayed late and sometimes performed again.
“His stubbornness and creative drive never waned,” said Kerry Kelly, his daughter. “Ever since he was a child, he always loved traveling.”
The first film that came to her father’s mind was “Singin’ in the Rain.”
“It’s all that kept him on the road — it was a godsend to his career at that time,” said Kerry Kelly.
The film tells the story of two aspiring clowns, played by Kelly and Donald O’Connor, who aspire to make it as a silent-film star. After their dreams are dashed, O’Connor succeeds in moving behind the scenes and becomes a well-known director of his own studio.
“My father was always kind of seduced by the struggle,” said Kerry Kelly.
Gene Kelly lived and worked with his wife, wife of 43 years, Lucien, for many years. Lucien died in 2003 and then his wife, in 2014.
“All of this is very much a family affair,” said Kerry Kelly. “My mother loved everybody that she worked with. Every person who came in was a family reunion.”
In addition to movies and traveling, the prolific entertainer also produced animated shorts, a play and choreographed a variety of television programs.
He was nominated twice for an Oscar, and twice for a Golden Globe award.
“When I say my father was the best-ever actor, that’s just the way he was. He was really, really good,” said Kerry Kelly.
Gene Kelly was inducted into the American Film Institute’s elite list of 100 greatest actors in 2012.
“He spent so much time in front of the camera — and had a great sense of humor, never losing that. He always wanted to do it again,” said Kerry Kelly.
Gene Kelly died in 2012 at the age of 95. Kerry Kelly is now the global spokesperson for Gene Kelly’s Chinese Art Centre on the last leg of its World tour. The center has presented everything from master classes with master performers to custom-built dance studios.
“You know, that’s just sort of who we are, it’s our philosophy, it’s how we were raised, it’s how he wanted it to be,” said Kerry Kelly. “It’s going to be here a long time, so that’s what we need to stay focused on.”