He starred in probably the most iconic musical moments in movie historical past, however his spouse informed AFP that Gene Kelly additionally had a cameo within the Chilly Conflict.
Patricia Kelly (nee Ward) was simply 26 when she was despatched to make a documentary in regards to the legendary dancer, then 73. She quickly grew to become his biographer, and his third and closing spouse.
Among the many shocking tales she gathered about Kelly’s eventful life was his time as a cultural ambassador to Africa on the peak of the Chilly Conflict.
Kelly was near US president John F Kennedy. “They have been buddies,” Patricia informed AFP. “Gene used to sing Irish insurgent songs with him within the White Home.”
After acting at Kennedy’s inauguration in 1964, he fell into dialog in fluent French with singer Yves Montand and first woman Jacqueline Kennedy.
It led to an invite to Ghana and French-speaking Senegal, the place the US was attempting to examine the rising affect of the Soviet Union.
Kelly discovered himself competing for consideration with Moscow’s envoy, a feminine astronaut.
It was not a good battle, since Kelly’s film “The Three Musketeers” had simply been proven in Accra and he ended up being chased down the road by individuals shouting “Dartagnan!” and needed to take refuge in a public library, leaping onto the stacks.
– ‘Adored Paris’ –
Kelly’s widow has been going via her mountains of recordings after agreeing to make a documentary for French radio.
“I hadn’t listened to these tapes since he died. It took my breath away,” she informed AFP.
“Gene noticed his position as going out into the world and never solely sharing the type of dance he created, but additionally breaking down obstacles and increasing our skill to speak. I want he was round now,” she mentioned.
France — and Paris specifically — have been all the time central to Kelly’s life.
“He adored Paris. He had so many shut associates right here, many from the French Resistance,” mentioned Patricia, now in her sixties.
He shot a number of motion pictures within the French capital — not least the Oscar-winning “An American in Paris”.
Nobody thought his subsequent movie might presumably match that success — not to mention nonetheless be probably the most widespread musicals on this planet 70 years later.
“I get extra mail about ‘Singin’ within the Rain’ now than ever earlier than,” mentioned Patricia of the traditional Kelly directed alongside Stanley Donen. “Simply this morning, I received an image of a one-year-old known as Teddy who watches it each day!”
– ‘Hanging off lampposts’ –
It was Kelly who got here up with the sluggish, ambling begin to the title music — eager to combine the music into the story.
“Gene needed dance to inform the story, and ‘Singin’ within the Rain’ might be one of the best instance of that as a result of what higher solution to say that you just’re in love?” mentioned Patricia.
“He didn’t know something would grow to be iconic. There wasn’t this notion again then that folks can be watching issues repeatedly.
“There’s solely a handful of issues which can be as recognisable as ‘Singing within the Rain’… As quickly because it begins raining — everyone seems to be on the market, hanging off lampposts.”
There was rather more to Kelly — who died in 1996 — than simply his tap-dancing.
An achieved director and choreographer, he was additionally the primary American to create a ballet for the Paris Opera (at the moment being revived in Scotland).
“Gene was a visionary particular person. He modified the whole look of dance on movie, with dollies and panning, lights and color and the motion of the digital camera,” mentioned his widow.
“He was all the time searching for the following frontier.”