Gene Kelly

Icons of the Century

Gene Kelly’s megawatt smile and athletic grace injected the movie musical with new vitality in the 1940s and ’50s.

He came to Hollywood from Broadway.

His vision and ego led him to create, with the help of Stanley Donen, landmark films such as “On the Town,” which was filmed entirely on location in Gotham, a first for a movie musical; “An American in Paris,” which contains a 17-minute ballet sequence; and “Singin’ in the Rain,” with its numerous eye-popping dance numbers — including the titular sequence.

Kelly’s brand of dance was working-man muscular — the counter to Fred Astaire’s top-hatted elegance — a style and bearing that reflected postwar America.

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