Arthur Freed

Pic producer paragons

Freed received the Acad’s Thalberg Award at the 1952 Oscars ceremony, the night his “An American in Paris” won picture.

Of course, the musical had been a MGM staple since “Broadway Melody of 1929,” but the way in which “An American in Paris” reached out toward ballet, impressionist painting and a non-American culture shows what the form had become under Freed.

His great qualifications were being a songwriter (“Singin’ in the Rain” most notably) and a man who always found reasons to agree with Louis B. Mayer. Freed was a rough yes-man who could handle such diverse and tricky talents as Vincente Minnelli, Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, Busby Berkeley, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse and so on — all the way down to people like Roger Edens, Andre Previn, Michael Kidd and Kay Thompson.

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