Film Review. January 1998
…through it all and until his death in 1996, he performed
– as Don Lockwood said – with
‘Dignity, always dignity’,
an ever-ready smile never far away...
On this page I will gather together all the available information on Gene’s instances of 'bad' behaviour, accidents,misfortunes and sicknesses. Doesn’t sound like a bundle of laughs, does it? But I think it is important that we realise that Gene did not float around on some big fluffy protective cloud, immune from all the trials and tribulations which beset us lesser mortals. Gene was human, and thus subject to the same problems, physical and mental, faced by all other humans at some point.
It was his way of working through them, or keeping them to himself, never moaning or whinging or self-pitying, which is an example worth emulating, and one of the many reasons I respect and admire him so much.
I will not be focusing on the illnesses he had to endure in the last years of his life. That time, for me, is off limits. He had much pride, and lived his life with so much dignity, that I am sure he would not want his frailties discussed in public. Suffice it to say that he suffered several strokes and other physical ailments. It is a sad fact that old age with its attendant problems is inevitable for all of us, and Gene was no different.
He had a good and long life, for which we should give thanks.
(I will be adding many more quotes during the coming days)
Filmland February 1951
Those were the days.
The most exciting moment of my life was not the moment the curtain rose on my first big Broadway break, “Pal Joey.” That was thrilling, terrifying too, but it can’t match that Christmas morning when I found a beebee gun under the Christmas tree. I was six then...I’ll never forget that beebee gun. I got so excited I shot all the balls off the Christmas tree. That was the end of the gun until the next day, then our parents relented and we Kelly kids took Pittsburgh by storm. One of the neighbors finally called the police. Luckily, the police got the wrong address and instead of coming to our house, arrived at the Doyles’ next door. The Doyles and the Kellys were pretty close and Mrs Doyle just said no, there’d been some mistake, she didn’t have any boys with beebee guns. That kept us out of trouble, but we were all washed up as gunmen, and the beebees were donated – much against our will – to a society for the Improvement of the Poor.
What a vivid and exciting memory that beebee gun is – second only to the time our home-made shack caught fire in the backyard and almost ignited the whole block. It was a three story shack...I must have been eight or nine. We got the shack built and had it for several weeks, meeting every day like conspirators to make plans. Don’t ask me plans for what. Just plans.
It was getting close to Winter and the place had no windows, but we knew the log cabin boys had oiled paper so light could come through (it said so in the Scouts’ handbook) and we hung burlap on the walls for warmth. One afternoon we were huddled around the candle in the dark shack, planning, when wind blew the candle flame, caught the burlap, and the place went up like tinder. We got out all right and ran for water, but by the time we got back, the shack was a torch and the flames had started along the fence...The houses are close together there and it wouldn’t have taken much to burn up the whole neighborhood. Men, women and children rushed out to form a bucket brigade and we finally managed to get the blaze under control, just about the time the fire department arrived. After that we were limited to one story shacks.
...It was my older sister who instigated another exciting moment. We had a big American flag at home. It was about five feet wide and ten feet long, and on holidays used to drape the whole house. It was probably an Armistice Day... My sister had a nurse’s uniform and she had the rest of us get rigged up as soldiers and sailors and we each had to carry one edge of the flag. We marched right down Pennsylvania Avenue holding our flag and calling, “Money for the Red Cross, money for the Red Cross.” ...policemen kept clearing the way for us and we marched to the beat of martial music. We took in lots of money. People threw it right in the middle of our flag, which was the idea. We must have taken in about a hundred dollars that day, divvied it up and felt like millionaires until our mother stepped in and made us turn it all over to the Red Cross.
There were the innumerable fights and scraps when the undersized but belligerent Eugene would defiantly defend his honour when being picked on for alleged sissyness on his way to dancing classes.
Gene: I had to fight my way from the house to the school and back again, getting and giving razzberries and shiners.
Hollywood magazine November 1942
Once when he was a small boy of seven, (who, incidentally, planned on being a missionary!) all slicked up in a white collar and dark suit, he was walking defiantly down his block headed for dancing school. Two small neighbours stopped him. “Yah!” they snarled. “Sissy” On ya way to dancin’ school!”
“Not either,” lied the potential missionary hastily. “Goin’ to a party with ice cream and cake!”
“Dancin’ school!” contradicted the little fiends. So Gene rolled up his sleeves and went to work….Then, bruised and tattered, he appeared at dancing school, where he flew about the floor with more grace than any of the soap-shiny little boys around him!
Photoplay May 1943
Bloody noses and blacked eyes were Gene's earliest memories of life in his home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The same dancing which brought him fame was responsible. Done up in prim little Eton collars, with his hair slicked and his ears scrubbed pink, he was sent to dancing school once a week by his mother. She believed in little boys' learning the niceties of life.
“The route to school was lined with kids whose mothers held less aesthetic views, “ Gene said. “Invariably the divergent schools of thought clashed and I had to do battle on each of six corners to prove I was no sissy.”
Holy Man Or Holy Terror. TV Radio Mirror November 1962. Jane Ardmore Big Paul Lewinski lay in wait for him, right after choir practice, to exact revenge for the previous day’s football defeat. Gene Kelly was 12 years old – and not very tall for his age, either. “Paul was 15, looked 26, and I was scared to death. I did everything I could to evade the issue, but he baited me, including some choice remarks about the Irish! – so I had to fight.” It was a whale of a fight…other boys gathered round…it was rough and tumble, anything goes… Gene tried to get an arm free to swing…he gave a bounce, swung from the ground, smashed his fist into the big guy’s face. He heard the nose bone crunch, loud as the crack of doom...the red-haired giant edged away, crumpled, called it quits.. And Gene was on his feet, the hero…the guy’d bled all over him, Gene’s shirt was soaked with blood…and then he was home… His mother was entertaining the ladies of the Altar Society to tea…suddenly he heard his mother’s voice, “Gene, what’s happened?” His sisters came running, and the hero burst into tears. Seventeen magazine. Date unknown. Article written by Gene. Fantastic Toe As a boy I was very adept at playing baseball, had an excellent knack for street fighting, and an almost uncanny ability to break windows...I could handle any window with any kind of weapon or missile...
Holy Man Or Holy Terror. TV Radio Mirror November 1962. Jane Ardmore
Big Paul Lewinski lay in wait for him, right after choir practice, to exact revenge for the previous day’s football defeat. Gene Kelly was 12 years old – and not very tall for his age, either. “Paul was 15, looked 26, and I was scared to death. I did everything I could to evade the issue, but he baited me, including some choice remarks about the Irish! – so I had to fight.”
It was a whale of a fight…other boys gathered round…it was rough and tumble, anything goes… Gene tried to get an arm free to swing…he gave a bounce, swung from the ground, smashed his fist into the big guy’s face. He heard the nose bone crunch, loud as the crack of doom...the red-haired giant edged away, crumpled, called it quits.. And Gene was on his feet, the hero…the guy’d bled all over him, Gene’s shirt was soaked with blood…and then he was home… His mother was entertaining the ladies of the Altar Society to tea…suddenly he heard his mother’s voice, “Gene, what’s happened?” His sisters came running, and the hero burst into tears.
Seventeen magazine. Date unknown. Article written by Gene.
As a boy I was very adept at playing baseball, had an excellent knack for street fighting, and an almost uncanny ability to break windows...I could handle any window with any kind of weapon or missile...
The following three anecdotes, we, being biased in favour of Kelly, might not see as being indicative of misbehaviour on his part, rather as potential 'justifiable homicide'!
John Maynard Magazine article 1951
Several years ago…Kelly exhibited the first pronounced symptoms of a militant tough-mindedness…a double-header of Celt ferocity and independence…one was an earnest effort to slug a widely read and heard commentator on movie doings. After which, Kelly proposed to stuff him into a wastepaper basket.
The other, an equally cordial offer to step a few rounds with a representative of a powerful Hollywood trade paper. Gene knew exactly what he was doing. He was inviting professional suicide to preserve his conceptions of human dignity and integrity.
Motion Picture and Television magazine. May 1954
Friends of Kelly, dating back to his first years in pictures, have an idea that he’d kick half-a-million dollars in the eye rather than compromise his moral or artistic integrity, and there is reason to believe they are right…
He was not, for instance, in a specially enviable spot one afternoon eleven years ago when the representative of a trade paper approached him on the set and broached the matter of Kelly’s taking an ad. To a veteran of films, the approach would have been obvious, and most easily settled by taking the ad, paying on the spot, dismissing the man and then going back to work, pausing only to fumigate the joint. To Kelly, a virtual newcomer, it wasn’t obvious at all. Not being in the men’s clothing or dill pickle business, he couldn’t see why he should take an ad of any sort. The man explained it to him, subtle as a tractor. Kelly’s first really important film would be released shortly. The trade paper was planning extensive coverage and review. But would its critic care for Kelly’s performance? Who knew?... Voila! It didn’t spell voila to Kelly. It spelled extortion. A well-muscled citizen despite his external slightness, he managed to do quite a little physical damage before he was dragged off by horrified crewmen. Positively, you do not rough up representatives of trade papers in Hollywood – but Kelly did.
Screen Stories April 1958
During the three-week location at Scaroon Lake in Upper New York, the Morningstar company stayed at the Scaroon Manor, a lovely but rather regimented resort spot. A place at table was assigned to each person and he was expected to eat every meal at the same place….When Gene Kelly’s birthday rolled around, the movie group celebrated at lunch with champagne. Carolyn Jones, who hates regimentation, popped from table to table. Gene said to her, “I notice you move around from table to table. Why?” When Carolyn explained, Gene suggested that that evening they all move around. When dinnertime came, Gene slipped into a chair next to a sweet elderly lady. He started the conversation with: “Pardon me, but have you seen any of those movie stars around?” The lady, immediately interested, replied, “No, I’ve not, have you?”…There was a ping-pong table on the upper level of the open-air theatre near the hotel. Natalie Wood, Bob Wagner, Jack Baker, Carolyn and Gene had seen most of the movies shown in the theatre, so they started a ping-pong tournament. At first, theatre patrons complained about the noise made by the plunk plunk of the balls. When they heard who the players were, many in the audience came to watch the ping-pong games in lieu of the movies…Hotel guests were recruited as extras for the picture.
Allegheny Times. 4th November 1990.
Allegheny Times. 4th November 1990.
On his early days performing in the ‘gin joints’:
It’s bad enough when people look away, but when they shout out names at you, that’s something else.
You can do two things: shout back at them, which is undignified,
and not particularly satisfying; or you can belt them,
which isn’t very dignified either, but very satisfying...
Sometimes I belted them. On night a guy called me a fag, and I jumped off the stage and hit him.
But I had to make a run for it, because the owner of the place and his brother
took after me with a couple of baseball bats
Los Angeles Times. December 21st 1979
Gene: If you don’t enjoy it, dancing is pure masochism…
You’re always trying to jump higher and spin harder than yesterday.
If you get hurt, you dance hurt.
The first ‘mishap’ of which we are aware, is, of course, the creation of that sexy scar on the left side of his face. It must have been very traumatic for the poor little scrap at the time! But I guess that when it healed, he wore it as some kind of badge of honour, enjoying the sympathy and admiration of his peers.
Newspaper article. 1945. Source unknown. This Is About Gene Kelly And That's All It's About. By John Maynard
...his face is youthful and very animated. Over the left corner of his mouth he bears a light scar, the result of a bicycle accident at the age of six, in which his teeth were driven clean through the jaw. For two months thereafter the Kelly features were embossed in plaster, but a fine job of surgery, dental and otherwise, saved everything.
Photoplay May 1943
He had the one outstanding accident which always throws the family into a panic. It left a slightly curving scar at the left of his mouth which still turns white when he gets fighting mad.
“I'd love to ascribe that scar to some great dramatic event,” Gene said, “but actually I fell off my tricycle when I was a sprout of five.”
Motion Picture. January 1943
…Everyone’s been trying to get me to cover that scar up,” he said, “but why should I? Just covering the scar wouldn’t turn me into a glamour boy.”
Not in the same frame for ‘coolness’ was the time when, visiting relatives on a farm in Ontario, he got his head stuck in a bucket, and had to be greased in order to get out.
Another ‘near-death’ experience was the argument between a huge truck and his home-made trolley. I guess the trolley won, because in spite of disappearing beneath the truck’s wheels, Kelly lived to tell – and no doubt embellish – the tale.
He broke his arm when still a young child, which was a blessing in disguise - probably for all the family - as it prematurely ended his unenthusiastic attempts to be the next Yehudi Menhuin, when his mother finally said he could stop taking violin lessons.
Speaking on the Johnny Carson Show in 1975, Gene tells how he broke his arm in a fall while dancing on stage at the La Salle Hotel in Chicago in 1933. He picked himself up, took a bow and walked off stage.
The La Salle was one of the most exclusive hotels in Chicago. Gene must have got a gig there, possibly with his brother Fred, when they attended the World's Fair in order to make some money and, in Gene's case, to perfect his craft by taking dance classes with Berenice Holmes and other great dancers.
During filming of the Spanish dance scene from Anchors Aweigh, Kathryn Grayson tossed him a fake paper rose which punctured his hand....
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 9th 1944. Virginia MacPherson.
With the army so impatient and time so short, Sidney can’t afford to have his star break a leg.
So far Kelly’s swooshed through the air and landed where he’s supposed to without breaking any bones. That’s simple stuff. But when he caught the fake paper rose Miss Grayson tossed him he got an infected hand.
“There was a little wire in the stem,” explained Kelly. “And that punctured my hand. Now I dance all day and soak my hand all night. At least the nights I’m not dancing all night too.”
Today he wasn’t feeling so good. He’s leapt across parapets till midnight the night before. He had a slight touch of blood poisoning. Also shivers and a fever. [If you look at the picture on the left, you can clearly see his damaged left hand.]
But the shooting deadline was hanging over his head and it doesn’t allow for any sick actors. So now Kelly rehearsed with his hand in bandages and then whips them off for each take.
All of which leaves Mr. Kelly a little on the pale and shaky side. He’s also embarrassed.
“I can just see the faces of those army guys when I walk in with my mitt all bandaged up,” he said. “They’ll take one look at my hand and say, ‘Oh, no ya don’t. We saw that picture!’”
Any movie-going sergeant might, that is.
January 18, 1947, Evening Independent
Gene Kelly tore two ligaments in his dance fall and will be on crutches for a while.
January 18, 1947, Chicago Tribune
Gene Kelly sprained his ankle during rehearsals for To Kiss and to Keep (Living in a Big Way). He’s had to be dropped from the picture indefinitely.
Evening Independent. January 20th 1947
Gene Kelly sprained his ankle with but one day to go on To Kiss And To Keep. He was luckily on the ground when it happened. The number he is doing consists of flitting around on small planks of a house construction – fifty feet off the ground.
Movie Stars Parade July 1947
He turned professional in a ten-dollar way, slipping off the University campus to the nightclubs in the little towns around Pittsburgh. One night he kicked his feet around too enthusiastically during the act. A heel flew off his dancing shoes and Kelly lost his dignity. He picked himself off the floor and finished the number in his socks. He was still good.
1947 was perhaps an unlucky year for Gene. He seemed to have one physical problem after another. The worst of course, was his fractured ankle, which occurred during the making of Easter Parade. Personally, I wish he had sat it out and made them wait for him to recover, rather than doing the 'right' thing, and persuading Fred Astaire to come out of retirement to take his place. But then, I'm not a big Fred Astaire fan.
October 1947, San Jose Evening News
HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 14 Movie dancer Gene Kelly was laid up today with a fractured right ankle, suffered when he slipped and fell as he practiced a new step on a ...
October 16, 1947, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Gene Kelly’s mother says he’ll be laid up for at least four months with that broken ankle…it was Gene’s right ankle, the same one he broke about a year ago and Mrs. Kelly believes he used it too much before it was fully built up again. The bone snapped while he was working out a new number for “Easter Parade. “
October 16, 1947, St. Petersburg Times Louella Parsons
It’s difficult to believe that Gene Kelly’s leg is so badly broken he may never dance again. It is the third break in the same leg, and his doctor is not very encouraging. Not since Fred Astaire has there been a dancer with Gene’s grace and ability and personality. “Easter Parade” will be held up for six weeks and then if he can’t dance at that time, it will probably go into production with another dancer.
October 23, 1947, St. Petersburg Times
A most ingenious contrivance, sort of like a rocker, has been built for Gene Kelly’s leg. It is so successful that he will be able to go to London for the Royal Command Performance and his doctor says that when he comes back he will be able to dance again.
November 16, 1947, Milwaukee Journal
Gene Kelly has cancelled out of the Royal Command Movie Performance in London because of his leg injury. He’s afraid he’d get seriously hurt in the crush – British fans mobbed some American movie stars last year.
November 19, 1947, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The cast has been removed from Gene Kelly’s broken foot, but he won’t be able to dance again for six or eight months.
December 3, 1947, Toledo Blade
Gene Kelly is due in Manhattan this week to make recordings. He still walks with a limp but the doctors feel sure he’ll be able to dance within three months.
March 1, 1948, Chicago Tribune
Gene Kelly’s ankle is well enough for him to start trying out a few dance steps.
May 12, 1948, Toledo Blade
Gene Kelly is vehemently denying the reports that his recent ankle injury will force him to give up dancing.
I don't have any other details about this injury.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. August 6th 1948
Gene Kelly with his leg in a cast, propped on a coffee table in a room at the Elysee Hotel, New York:
Gene was a daring and fearless sportsman so, no doubt, he must have had many injuries which were never documented,
but he had at least three skiing accidents.
Dance. Pauline Swanson. 1954
...According to Lois Gene found it difficult to avoid mixing work with pleasure even when he and his family were in Switzerland’s great ski resorts…the family insisted he call a halt to work, talked him into putting on a pair of skis, and he crashed, as all beginners will, with resulting minor injuries…he wasn’t too afraid, for he went back to the slopes for a second try. But he was ‘terribly cautious’. For a dancer, a shattered bone can be curtains.
He took his entourage to Zermatt for a skiing holiday...accident-prone as ever, he promptly fell on a patch of ice. He ripped the cartilage in one of his knees. “The end of serious dancing for me”, he said – and so it was.
Warsaw Times. April 13, 1953
In his second skiing accident near Zurich, Gene Kelly suffered a pulled tendon in his right leg…He has been ordered to stay off the snow slopes for six months.
May 1955. When this Zebra crossing picture (to follow when I have found or rescanned it!) was taken, in St. James Street London, his right arm was virtually useless. He nicked his finger a week ago opening the top of his convertible car and it turned septic. He came from Cannes to discuss Invitation To The Dance.
New York Times. October 9th 1957
Gene Kelly is temporarily out of Marjorie Morningstar as a ‘flu casualty. Last week the actor injured his leg and was hobbling around the set…
Late 1960, newspaper article
Gene recently suffered a torn ligament hamming it up on Dean Martin's tennis court.
Throughout his later life Gene suffered from back problems - hardly surprising given the way he danced and spent much of his leisure time.
Los Angeles Times. February 24th 1963
Gene Kelly…checked into Mt. Sinai hospital Saturday to undergo several weeks traction treatment for a slipped disc.
Los Angeles Times. September 8th 1963
I’m the Mickey Mantle of dancers. I’m always having accidents – but never while dancing. I was in traction for six weeks recently because of an old injury – ruptured disc – and my back isn’t completely better yet.
The Ledger. June 25th 1974
“My right leg feels like a hundred elephants stomped on it,” says Gene Kelly. “I was working out today over at the lot – MGM – doing some hoofin’ and I must have twisted it or something.”
He isn’t exactly limping. Heaven forbid, but he isn’t exactly leaping either. And leaping, or dashing, or strutting, or jumping for joy, that is how one thinks of him.
Interview with Bobby Wygant 1985
In That’s Dancing there’s a piece from Invitation To The Dance where I’m dancing with a cartoon character, this girl, and we’re flying through the air. I had knee cartilage trouble and I was very sore and I would have loved not to have done that because we were flying over big blue lamps…and dancers always have to stretch themselves, leap higher…and so torture your body. No dancer that I know of hasn’t had a repetitive injury – bad back, bad shoulder, knee, just like any athlete.
We are told that he was the sickliest of the five Kelly children, catching everything which did not run fast enough! He had a serious bout of pneumonia when young, – possibly influenza, a friend of mine has theorised, as the great pandemic was sweeping through the world at that time.
Photoplay May 1943
He had the usual succession of mumps and measles
Gene suffered for many years with sinus problems. He once said that one of the reasons the family never had a swimming pool - when he was married to Betsy - was that swimming was bad for his sinuses. In some of his films and songs, it is possible to hear, from the way that he speaks and sings, that he was having a problem with his nasal passages.
May 24, 1947, Milwaukee Sentinel
The Pirate has really had its troubles. Judy Garland has been off the set time and time again with one cold after another. Now for ten days the picture has been closed because of Gene Kelly. He’s had flu so badly he’s been unable to work and so Vincente Minnelli has shut down production until Gene is well again.
June 10, 1947, St. Petersburg Times
…Gene, by the way, was successfully operated on a few days ago.
(Possibly an op on his sinuses?)
June 12 – June 21, 1947, Gene was ill and could not report to work on The Pirate. (From Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend, 2002). He claimed an infection so that Judy could take off and rest from filming.
June 22, 1947, Milwaukee Journal
Now this Hollywood woe: Gene Kelly who is plenty miserable with sinus trouble.
July 16, 1947, Pittsburgh Press
Kaspar Monahan, Hollywood.
Saw and talked to Gene Kelly for a moment as I stood beside a swell new motor job, a sports model. Said he had been miserable with a touch of sinus and agreed that perhaps a whiff or two of vital Pittsburgh air might fix him up.
Another very well-documented malady of Gene’s was his fever during the filming of his most famous number, Singin’ In The Rain. On July 17th 1951, he apparently danced while suffering the after-effects of a temperature of 103 degrees. Typically, in his many interviews concerning the dance, he hardly ever mentioned the fact that he had been quite ill. Gene had been ill with 'flu and a sinus infection, and had in fact been unable to rehearse for several days before the filming. On 16th, no work was done on the scene at all.
It was hot summer, we were under tarpaulins. Gene had a cold, the rain made it even worse, damper. If you’re in a sauna and put water in, the steam makes you twice as hot, and that’s what it was like.
Los Angeles Times. October 9th 1957
Gene Kelly is bedded down with ‘flu and out of Marjorie Morningstar for a few days. Director Irving Rapper is shooting around Kelly.
Seventeen magazine. Date unknown. Article written by Gene.
The title of this article is not suggested by John Milton's famous line “Come and trip it as you go, on the light, fantastic toe”, but by my big toe which is really quite fantastic. It is always purple, or blue, or the nail is cracked, or something is out of whack. It is always in a state of disrepair...
Excerpt from letters to Tony Thomas from Gene, regarding the Thomas book The Films of Gene Kelly. With very kind permission of the owner of the letters. Thank you Carol.
March 15, 1973
I’ve been a little remiss in answering because I had to make a return trip to the hospital
due to some complications, but hopefully everything goes well now. (Possibly to do with an operation to remove a cataract, but that is just a guess.)
Sep 14, 1990 - JOLIET
Hollywood dance legend Gene Kelly scheduled to perform Saturday at Joliet's Rialto Square Theater was stricken Wednesday with a sudden illness it was announced yesterday. Rialto Square Theater spokeswoman Gayle Crnkovic said the nature and seriousness of the illness were not known...
Bangor Daily News. May 13th 1994
Gene Kelly is out of the hospital after nine days of treatment for a skin infection. The 81-year-old dancer and actor left St. Mary’s Medical Center on Tuesday. He was treated for cellulites, a bacterial infection that can cause pain, swelling, fever, chills and headache.
Kelly was admitted May 1. He was in San Fransisco to attend a performance of the San Fransisco Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet.
He was looking for dancers for a performance of An American In Paris planned in Southern California…
Gene would disagree with me here, he always classed himself as one having ‘The luck of the Irish’, but he suffered many misfortunes and sadnesses throughout his life. Unlike most of the modern-day ‘celebrity’ types, Gene usually kept his deepest feelings hidden from public view, making it difficult to get a ‘handle’ on him, and why should we try? That would be a gross invasion of his private space. I will simply list some of the misfortunes which are in the public domain, and leave it at that.
Gene was a strong person in many respects, but he suffered emotionally on several occasions, usually when those he loved were involved in some way. His daughter Kerry said he 'went to pieces' during the time of his divorce from Betsy. His son Tim sai that he would get sick every year around the anniversary of Jeannie's passing. His good friend Fred Astaire helped pull him out of a low period following her death.
Pittsburgh Press June 1953
Gene arrived quietly in New York where he was met by his mother.
They travelled to Pittsburgh. “We didn't want people to know because Gene needed a little rest..."
Motion Picture and Television magazine. May 1954
Kelly can be a moody man at times, subject to a sort of Celt disorder in which he slips blackly out of a conversation to stare unhearing at his shoes and chew on some obscure worry.
American Way. June 1984
On raising Tim and Bridget alone: “I don't think I had any choice. I never felt sorry for myself. It was a very tough job, but it made me appreciate the woman's role in the house. Anyway, sing no sad songs for me.”
Possibly the worst disaster which befell Gene, apart from his divorce, the death of Jeannie, and the loss of other loved ones including an unborn child, was the fire which destroyed his beloved home in 1983. He lost a lifetime collection of treasures, both costly and intimate. He lost several works of art and the painting which Kerry had made for his 40th birthday. He lost his Oscar and an old French poster which had been a family joke. fortunately the most precious things were saved - he and his children. When asked what he would do, he said "Rebuild." And so he did, an almost exact reproduction of the original house, externally at least.
The Free-Lance Star. December 22nd 1983
Pajama-clad entertainer Gene Kelly was saved by smoke alarms and his son from a Christmas tree fire that destroyed their home early today, and he described the blaze as ‘disastrous.’.
Magazine clipping 1986:
Gene: What’s the point in pretending I’m not getting any older? Age is a fact of life you have to live with,
and I always knew the day would come when I’d no longer be able to jump six feet into the air.
But, I've got no regrets. I still think of myself as the luckiest man in the world.