This page will feature some of the many guest appearances which Gene made on other people's shows, over a long period of time. He was also a great favourite when a host was needed for 'specials' and award ceremonies, both televised and on stage.
Disney News. Spring 1989.
Television. Once the mortal enemy of motion picture and which helped kill off the kind of musicals that he, Fred Astaire and others made, has become Kelly’s friend.. for nearly thirty years, he has been involved in major TV productions as a creator, writer, producer, director, actor, dancer, host, guest star, or narrator – and sometimes in several of those capacities at once.
American Film magazine 1979. Gene:
I’ve been involved in a lot of projects. But I’ve kept them to things I could do in Hollywood, which during the past five or six years has meant television, because I’ve had two little children to raise. …I’m still doing a few television appearances just to pay the rent.
I’m not breaking any new ground, just singing and doing a little dance - all that’s left of old dad. I never really dance any more you know. It’s too much trouble keeping in shape. I’d rather have a drink and a hearty meal… I go on television, but I just horse around. Everybody thinks I’m dancing, but I’m not: I do a few steps. No, I don’t dance any more, really.
MAGAZINE RACK. OCTOBER 1939
Gene's first TV performance.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. 10th October 1939
Gene Kelly of the Squirrel Hill dancing Kellys has been selected for NBC TV programs in New York. He makes his first appearance tonight.
New York Times. October 8th 1939
Telecast for the week:
Magazine Rack. A revue with Virginia Verrill, soprano; Michael Loring, baritone, The Cabin Kids; Gene Kelly and Franzell’s Orchestra.
HOLLYWOOD BOWL. AUGUST 1946
Los Angeles Times August 15th 1946
At the Hollywood Bowl.
Motion Picture Night. Stars to appear include Judy Garland, Gene Kelly…
They will do “Oh, what an easy job you’ve got. All you’ve got to do is to shake your feet” blues.
ROYAL VARIETY SHOW. NOVEMBER 1947
There was some doubt as to whether Gene would be able to attend, as he had broken his ankle in October and was worried about doing more damage if he was caught up in the crowds outside the theatre. I think he did not attend but I have no definite evidence either way as yet.
Los Angeles Times October 24th 1947.
Invited for the Royal Variety Show gala performance on November 25th [in London] are Robert Montgomery, Alexis Smith, Bob Hope, Craig Stephens and Gene Kelly.
Milwaukee Journal. 16th October 1947
Gene Kelly…may go to London next month for the Command Performance on November 12th.
DANCE CONTEST JUDGE. 18th November 1949
Gene acted as Judge in the Harvest Moon Dance Contest.
In the Pan Pacific Auditorium
GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS. FEBRUARY 1950
Los Angeles Times. February 24th 1950
Gene Kelly was Master of Ceremonies for the presentation of the Golden Globe awards.
ROYAL VARIETY SHOW. LONDON. OCTOBER 1952
Los Angeles Times October 17th 1952Gene Kelly will dance at the Royal Command Performance being held in London on October 27th, at the personal request of Queen Elizabeth
SCREEN PRODUCERS GUILD AWARD TO DISNEY. FEBRUARY 1957
Los Angeles Times February 18th 1957
Disney receives Screen Producers Guild Award. There was the appearance of ten children representing many different countries who were led by Gene Kelly in the singing of When You Wish Upon A Star.
Milestone Award of the Screen Producer’s Guild. February 17th 1957
Walt Disney Honoured.
…When guests entered the ballroom after cocktails, they found figures of the most famous Disney characters all in tuxedos, seated in the twenty chairs on the dais, with Mickey Mouse occupying Walt’s chair….the Disney characters were replaced by…Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Yul Brynner, Gene Kelly…who came out and introduced Walt to 80 small children, dressed in costumes of their native countries, who sang When You Wish Upon A Star and were joined by singer Pat Boone as the climax to the evening.
SALUTE TO BASEBALL. APRIL 1957
New York Times. April15th 1957. Salute To Baseball
Gene Kelly, as master of ceremonies, did a routine job.
THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. JUNE 1957
This show was recorded at Jones Beach, on the same day that Gene appeared on What's My Line
THE $64,000 QUESTION. JULY 1957
The Age. July 11th 1957
Captain Alan Villiers last night won $8000 on the quiz show The $64,000 Question. Captain Villiers…was relaxed enough to wisecrack with guest compere, dancer Gene Kelly.
WHAT'S MY LINE? 1957 AND 1964
Gene appeared on this show on two occasions.
In 1957 he signed in, being greeted with screams of delight from the audience, which sort of gave the game away, because the panel knew immediately that this was a VERY well-loved celebrity. Gene ‘put on’ a squeaky little voice, which apparently fooled no one.
They guessed who he was within a few seconds. The Happy Road had just opened in New York, and one of the panellists gave it a marvellous ‘plug’, to which Gene replied “I humbly thank you”.
The host said that he thought they might have had fun with Gene because: “Of all the great people in the entertainment world, this is probably one of the most talented…an actor, a director, a producer, a dancer and singer.” More hearty applause followed.
Gene said: “I was talking to my daughter and we were trying to plot something out – it’s a very favourite show of ours and Kerry told me all kinds of voices to use.”
He mentioned being on the Ed Sullivan show that same night, and having to take a helicopter from Jones Beach in order to get to the studio.
It is one of my favourite ‘short’ viewings of Gene. There are four hours worth of other celebrity appearances on the What's My Line DVD.
Gene did not fare much better in the 1964 show. Though they did ask two ‘wrong’ questions. The disadvantage, as well as the rapturous audience reaction, was having Louis Jourdan on the panel, as he knew Gene very well, and I think recognised his ‘whispery’ voice immediately. Unfortunately Gene did not stick around to talk, and the clip is therefore far too short.
TV Guide. October 31-November 6, 1959
An Evening with Fred Astaire – and Gene Kelly
The forum was a Hollywood panel show. The occasion marked the first time these two top exponents of dancing had appeared together since MGM’s Ziegfeld Follies in 1945
…Makeup on, the two dancers and the four panellists [members of the Press]…headed for the studio…Astaire slid gracefully down a short concrete ramp and said, “Ha! This gives me a great idea for a routine.” “Bravo,” said Kelly.
A photographer…asked them if they would mind posing doing a time step together.
“Anything Fred wants to do is fine with me,” said Kelly
“Anything Gene wants to do is fine with me,” said Astaire…
Dancers and panelists settled down to an hour’s worth of rather spirited conversation…
Given the questions, the two dancers ducked none of them, deftly complimented on another…and came up with a variety of opinions.
JOHN F KENNEDY INAUGURATION GALA. 14th January 1961
Gene was among many stars of stage and screen who performed at this gala in honour of John F Kennedy. They included Frank Sinatra, who was narrator, Joey Bishop as Master of Ceremonies, Pat Suzuki (Flower Drum Song), Nat King Cole, Ethel Merman, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Durante, and Milton Berle.
Gene bounded on stage with a cane and his green Irish hat from Take Me Out To The Ball game. He sang The Hat Me Dear Old Father Wore, and did an amazing dance considering the setting and the occasion. He looked as though he was really enjoying himself. His voice was strong and faultless in the song.
He went off to tumultuous and lasting applause, drowning out Joey Bishop’s words. He was trying to reintroduce Gene and had to shout to be heard. Gene returned to the stage to do a ‘flash dance’, in the manner of an old Vaudeville hoofer, ending with his trademark bounce across the floor on hands and feet.
He also took part in a VERY long ‘biographical’ sung tribute to Kennedy describing his rise to power. I notice Gene was one of the few who did not need to have his script in front of him each time he stepped up to the microphone.
HOLLYWOOD, THE GOLDEN YEARS. DECEMBER 1961
Time. December 1st 1961
Hollywood, The Golden Years.
Gene Kelly narrates an hour-long holiday special about the silent era of film.
PRESIDENT'S PHYSICAL PHITNESS PHILM. March 1962
There is a letter to Gene in the Gotlieb Archives in Boston, thanking him for narrating the President's Physical Phitness Philm, in March 1962
STEVE ALLEN SHOW. 18TH February 1964. (Recorded 6th February.)
I saw this recently at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. I hope I have remembered most of the salient points.
Read some media reports about this trip on the 'We're on the left' page
Gene was introduced as “One of the most versatile men in Hollywood. He’s a great man – top notch in all categories, and one of the best-loved men in our business. He recently made news as a cultural ambassador for the United Nations."
They begin by discussing his recent role in What A Way To Go, with Shirley McClain.
But the most interesting part of the interview is when Gene discusses his trip as a U.N. Cultural Ambassador to Senegal, Ghana and Upper Volta.
He said he was asked to go mainly because he spoke French. George Stevens Junior was the producer. He was following in the footsteps of Georgie Tapps and Louis Armstrong who had done similar trips.
Gene was flown to Dakar and after being met by U.S. Foreign Service Officials, he was left more or less to fend for himself for 28 days. He had been given a can of film by MGM, containing clips from dance movies. He relied on a group of newspaper reporters, from Associated Press, for information on where to go and who to see.
He said that every country he visited had been kind to a guy from Hollywood.
Steve Allen then tried to begin a political discussion concerning the trip, but Gene cut him off very sharply. He said that he was not a political authority on conditions out there. Gene said that most of the other foreigners who visited those African states had an agenda of their own, but he had made no political speeches of any kind, he just showed movie clips and shared dance experiences with his hosts. He had to travel deep into the bush in order to meet some dancers. It had been very hot, which meant he was sweating all the time, but he had learned some new steps, as the dancers had been very knowledgeable about their art.
He said that, especially in English-speaking Ghana, they knew An American In Paris and other famous movies, but he had shown them that modern dance had its origins in Africa. He would get up and share dance with the people and that would be the basis of a good relationship with them.
There was a live audience for the show, and they asked Gene a series of questions about his trip:
What were the medical facilities like?
Gene said he did not know much about it, but he had seen lepers not far from luxury hotels, and long queues at clinics.
Were the people ‘backward’?
Gene said yes, in education, except in the large cities where there was a growth in universities, but they were not at all backward in culture. He mentioned bare-breasted women being the norm in some areas, and he saw that as good!! He said that integration worked fine out there; in fact America was ‘backward’ in comparison, in that aspect.
He was asked his opinion on African-Americans working out there in the Peace Corps. He said that some of the indigenous population would welcome them with open arms, like long-lost brothers coming back to the fold. But the workers saw themselves first as Americans, going out there to do a job in helping those less fortunate than themselves. There was a real ambivalence in attitudes.
He had encountered no personal hostility. Some of the Africans might be anti American Government but they were pro the American people.
Steve Allen commented that people like Gene were “An overlooked weapon in the Cold War.”
Foreigners did not know presidents but they did know Gene, and though they would not accept political sermons they would warm to someone who was willing to share and demonstrate common cultural and personal attributes.
Gene ended by saying that it had been a very worthwhile experience and he had learned more than they did.
It would be so good if some day we could have a DVD of some of the in-depth interviews and talks, which Gene did. They reveal his personality and his outlook on life in a much clearer way than some of the fan magazine articles and facile chat shows he did.
PASSWORD 14th JANUARY 1965
Gene took part in this game show, with Barbara Rush as the other celebrity. It is now available on DVD.
Gene always loved word games, was an ace at ‘Anagrams’, crosswords, charades etc. So I imagine he was more than happy to take part in this popular programme.
Gene was given a good introduction by the host, who mentioned the Legion of Honour ribbon, which Gene wore.
Each celebrity had a member of the public to play with. One member of the team was given a word and they had to use single words in order to help their partner guess the original. It sounds simple but was quite tense and even a little exciting at times! But then I like word games too.
Gene had four partners in turn, three women and one man. The women were obviously more than happy to be sitting next to him, concentrating on his every word…
He won three of the four rounds, helping his partners to win good sums of money. At times you could tell he was quite serious and competitive about the whole thing, then suddenly the smile would appear and the women would fall on the floor in a dead faint – ok I’m joking! He berated himself each time he made a mistake – saying ‘I loused you up’ to his partner on occasion.
A very entertaining half hour – if you like word games and if you like to look at Gene Kelly!
THE JULIE ANDREWS SHOW. Recorded 23rd March, shown 28th November1965
Produced for NBC in 'living colour'. "Brought to you by your Gas company."
Gene is the main guest, with input from the New Christy Minstrels.
It starts with the inevitable umbrella. Julie descends from the clouds using one as a parachute. She is joined by a ‘chorus’ of closed umbrellas which sound like they have overdosed on helium provided by the gas company. She sings On A Wonderful Day like Today, then goes into The Rain In Spain from My Fair Lady, which she starred in on Broadway.
Gene joins her from behind a black umbrella. He sings Singin' In The Rain whilst she continues to rain in Spain. Then they do Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella, with a simple dance, before they float off together.
Julie then does a section with the New Christy Minstrels, - there seem to be hundreds of them. Then Gene returns to sit on a bench with her and cuddle – why does everyone always want to touch and hug him?? Ok, I know the answer: because he is a people magnet. They sing Just In Time and dance with delicate grace, then they jazz it up a bit.
The next section is very entertaining, and cleverly done. The Family Tree. In the background is a huge ‘family tree’, one side with Andrews, the other with Kelly. Julie: “From the time the Isle of Britain came to be, there has always been an Andrews family tree.” Gene: “Since the day the Emerald Isle came on the scene, there has always been a tree of Kelly green.
“Sure they said it was a Kelly who first kissed the Blarney Stone, but they’re all so full of blarney if it’s true I’ve never known.”
It gives Gene and Julie chance to dress up and have fun, as they each ‘become’ their ancestors. Gene sings about and becomes his great great …grandfather – “Seamus was his name. He invented the Irish jig or so the Kelly’s claim. In Paddy’s bar a hundred hooligans started up a fight, but me and Paddy we licked ‘em though it took us half the night. With Whisky bottles and beer bottles we fought them till the morn, and stepping over the broken glass the Irish jig was born.” Then ‘Seamus’ dances a jig, and says it is a pity the dancing talent in the family died out with him.
Gene: “I had a hero in my family once, a musketeer. Oh there was no mistaking a man then – he’s the one in the satin pants, the velvet blouse, the long hair and the feather in his hat.”
Then there was Julie's 'poor aunt Jane', who never quite got her man, and Gene's starchy 'uncle Jim, who never got his girl.
Julie asks who would he most like to have been: “William the wizard, the greatest court magician of all time.” ‘William’ complete with pointy hat, grey hair and moustache, does some very silly magic tricks, with perfect timing and a thick Irish accent.
Julie recreates ‘aunt Bertie’, a music hall star, brilliantly. She sings raucously to Gene: “It’s men like you, make women like me, go crazy over men like you…I know you’ve been a soldier and you love to fight, so I’ll arrange a battle for you every night...”
In the next part of the show we see Gene suspended high in some rigging, singing Bell Bottom Trousers. He slides down the rope in sailor suit and does a fine nautical style dance – Hey Gene, you are 53 here, you shouldn’t be jumping around clicking your heels in the air like Joe Brady!! It is more gently done of course, but still impressive as he shows off his favourite moves, ending with bouncing along the floor on hands and toes, just as he did in his very first movie scene 23 years earlier.
Julie then has her own section, after which Gene joins her once more on the bench for more cuddles. Put him down Julie for goodness sake!
Julie: I can’t remember having more fun doing a show.” Gene: “And I’ve never been a happier guest." Julie: "Even the rehearsals were fun. Gene had us all playing a tapping game,… but when you do it with Gene he taps it with his feet.”
They demonstrate a few ‘taps’ and sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious together.
Gene: “The best part was teaching Julie some old-fashioned hoofing.” They end the show with a delightful demonstration of what she has learned, showing what a good teacher Gene is!
Interestingly, Gene is not credited as Choreographer, it was Tony Charmoli with two assistants, but I am sure that Gene was responsible for his own dances. The show is well produced and written, and Julie is the quintessentially English rose, but in her scenes with Gene is given the opportunity to be a little more sparky than she usually appears to be. She is a good dancer too. They look great together.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 27th 1965
The simplicity of this very pleasing, uncluttered hour of song and Julie Andrews’ moments on stage with dancer Gene Kelly, give Miss Andrews another victory. The dance numbers between Julie and Gene are the major winners.
Los Angeles Times. April 9th 1968 Repeat showing. Also shown January 2nd 1968 and possibly March 23rd
Gene Kelly and the New Christy Minstrels are great on the variety special which won Peabody and Emmy awards.
JACKIE GLEASON'S BIRTHDAY SHOW. 25TH FEBRUARY 1967
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. February 21st 1967
Gene told of his invitation to fly to a mecca of opulence, Miami Beach, Florida, to appear on the Jackie Gleason show the night before his fairy tale special. “And I’ll have to dance,” he said. “If I don’t those June Taylor girls will throw rocks at me.”
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. March 17th 1967
“Jackie Gleason’s Birthday Show was more fun than I’ve had in a long time”, said Gene…at the dinner, the guests were treated to clips from that Gleason show – Mr. Kelly tapping out Happy Birthday, reviving with the June Taylor troupe one of the dances he did in the 10-year-old MGM picture Les Girls…The crowd applauded for what seemed like minutes.
JOE FRANKLIN. May 1967, New York.
Gene is introduced as ‘the last of the Blockbusters.’ Franklin says that Invitation To The Dance is his favourite of Gene’s movies, it was way ahead of its time. He says that Gene out-fairbanked Mr. Fairbanks in Three Musketeers. Gene says it made a lot of money and was his favourite picture to make.
They discuss A Guide For The Married Man, about to open in New York, Gene says he wants to plug it. “It is a funny picture, but not for the kiddies, it is about men having affairs, a far cry from the comedies we used to do years ago.” He says it is good to do something of a more adult nature. Franklin mentions Louis B Mayer and Gene quickly changes the subject!
Franklin suggests Gene do a one-man show on Broadway for a month, maybe also reuniting with Judy Garland. Gene replies that everything is so costly on Broadway, the producers play it safe. Another plug for Gene’s film, which opens on May 24th, Franklin tells Gene that Clint Eastwood wants to say ‘hello’ to him, and the interview ends.
HOLLYWOOD STARS OF TOMORROW 27th JANUARY 1968
Gene is host for this award show, honouring newcomers in the world of TV and cinema. He is a very good host, knows what he is doing, has rapport with the guests and honourees, and does it all pretty much with tongue-in-cheek. Buddy Ebsen, Charlton Heston, Carl Reiner, Farley Granger and Adam West are among the guest presenters, and among those mentioned in the newcomers’ ’honours list’ are: Cher, Michael Crawford, Tommy Steele, Candice Bergen, Raquel Welch, Richard Pryor, Bobby Gentry, Nancy Sinatra, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway and Sharon Tate.
It is interesting from a social history point of view. Though it is in black and white, Gene is looking very, very good. Hard to realise he was 56 years old.
JACKIE GLEASON SHOW. 6th October 1968
From Miami Beach.
I saw this show at the Paley Center in Los Angeles, but had time only to watch Gene's section. Among the guests was Orson Welles.
Gene did a precision tap dance with two attractive girls. It was reminiscent of the ones he did earlier, 1964, with two male partners at the Hollywood Palace and later, 1978, with Alex Romero and Danny Daniels in the Pasadena show.
Then he performed what could loosely be termed a song-and-dance-duo with Jackie Gleason! They both sang and Gene danced, while Gleason sort of moved his legs and arms around a bit. They did a medley of George M. Cohan numbers as a tribute to him, including Mary; Yankee Doodle; Grand Old Flag; Harrigan and Give My Regards To Broadway. It was good fun, and Gene was obviously having a grand old time with Gleason.
HOST, SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. 1968
Los Angeles Times. October 18th 1968
Gene Kelly has been named to host the opening day of the San Fransisco International Film Festival.
THE BRASS ARE COMING. MARCH 1970
Free Lance Star. March 31st 1970
The Brass Are Coming. A musical variety hour starring Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and Petula Clark… In cameos are Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and Gene Kelly. Various locales in S. California serve as the background for the numbers.
THE AMERICAN SPORTSMAN. JANUARY 1971
Los Angeles Times. October 4th 1970
Gene Kelly will headline an American Sportsman show for ABC in which he will go fishing in a remote area of Kenya.
Los Angeles Times. January 31st 1971
Gene Kelly and Doug Sanders fish for Nile perch in Kenya.
Toledo Blade. January 31st 1971
The American Sportsman. Fishermen of assorted tastes will want to tune in for a glimpse of Gene Kelly and golfer Doug Sanders fishing for Nile perch in Kenya’s Lake Rudolf…
(from details in the Gotlieb Archives, Boston.)
Fly to Nairobi 22nd September 1970. Hotel Norfolk.
25th. Ferguson's Gulf Lake Rudolph.
26-30th September filming
1st October Nairobi, possible trip to Mt. Kenya. To be shown 31st January 1971. 1st episode of the 45 minute shows.
Arthur Loew Jr. travelled with him and Gene was bothered because the stills did not include enough shots of Loew.
According to the vaccination certificate, Gene had been vaccinated against yellow fever on 16th December 1963 in LA.
October 3rd return to London to Savoy.
SALUTE TO OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II April 4th 1971
Took place at U.S.C. An evening of stories and memories of Hammerstein by his friends and co-workers, including Richard Rogers, Dinah Shore, Johnny Green and Gene Kelly.
JOHNNY CARSON SHOW. 13th August 1971, 10th November 1971
Johnny asks Gene which leading lady made the greatest impression on him. Diplomatically he replies, “Every leading lady has qualities of her own. I was lucky enough to be at MGM when the greatest were there. I was always lucky. Three Musketeers had four ladies, all great ladies of MGM.
“If a part wasn’t in Gable’s or Taylor’s class, I’d raise my hand to do it – some turned out well. Like Black Hand and Pilot#5, I got them second-hand.”
They talk about The Funny Side, which Gene was rehearsing at that time.
Carson says Gene is in superb shape.
“I play tennis. I don’t dance enough to keep in shape.”
Asked if he ever feels ‘clutzy’.
“I did today, I fell over at home, and I fell on the tennis court yesterday. My friends play golf, but I can play tennis every day.”
Carson asks about women who want to dance with him.
“It’s easier just to get up and do it. Sometimes a woman has had a drink…nobody’s ever hit me yet…”
Gene’s Funny Side ‘team’ then does three short sketches about Johnny Carson, quite funny and a little ‘risqué.
Gene also appeared on the Carson Show on:
August 30th 1974; February and November 7th 1975; May 4th 1976; January 24th 1985; October 1st 1987, the 25th Anniversary.
THE RED DETACHMENT OF WOMEN. MARCH 1972
Los Angeles Times. March 28th 1972
Chinese ballet, The Red Detachment Of Women, narrated by Gene Kelly, filled with fascinating insight.
Bryan Times. March 8th 1972
[On TV] A two-hour filmed version of the ballet performed recently in Peking for President and Mrs. Nixon…with Gene Kelly as narrator.
Gene wrote this on a scrap of paper, possibly from an envelope: (original in the Gotlieb Archives, Boston)
If I was writing a critique of this ballet I would be forced to give an opinion...that the music is old-fashioned, generally not good, and that the choreography is repetitive, but the dancers themselves – it is obvious they are classically trained – are excellent...could grace the stage of any ballet company in the world.
DEAN MARTIN VARIETY SHOWS
Gene joined Dean on several occasions during his long-running show, mainly in the early 70s. They had a good rapport, obviously enjoying a similar sense of humour.
Greg Garrison, producer, and compiler of the DVD series of the best of the Dean Martin Shows:
“I was…fortunate enough to work with Gene Kelly. He had great moves, was a great dancer but he had more of a feel for the room, and for what he was doing. Dean Martin was like Gene Kelly. Other guys were singers, not performers. Gene used to love to work with Dean, they just felt a great companionship…and they understood each other.”
The DVDs are available from the usual sources, and you will find Gene on Volumes 10, 15, 19, 21, 22, 27, and possibly others.
Volume 10: Gene sings 50 Girls 50, accompanied by – yes you’ve guessed it – 50 glorious girls, all done up in feathers and sequins and later, in 'normal’ clothes. Gene’s dancing is very simple, he seems to be busier looking at the girls! There is a brief appearance by Ruth Buzzi doing her trademark act of the weird woman hitting the man with her handbag. Then Gene ends with a spectacular jump from the stage.
Volume 15: This is one of the better sketches. It begins with Gene and Dean sitting together. Dean discusses the idea that men use dancing as an excuse to use women as sex objects. Gene replies, “I’ve seen the way some guys carry on when they’re dancing – they think they can do anything as long as it’s in tempo…Men don’t need women to dance with. We can dance with anything, even inanimate objects.”
“Oh, you mean married women,” interpolates Dean.
This is the cue for the sketch, in which Gene dances with a mop – mmm, that sounds familiar – a cello, a chair, with witticisms thrown in, and of course the inevitable umbrella.
Volume 19: Gene dances and sings Ladies Day, again surrounded by beautiful women in sparklies, all looking very green in colour, but also with huge smiles on their faces…One lucky lady gets a smacker right on the kisser, then Gene does his Dubarry reprise by having them all line up to jump over him as he scoots across the stage beneath their legs.
Volume 21: Two appearances on this DVD. The first is one of my favourites, Gene and Rover the elephant. One of my favourite silly jokes – how do you get six elephants in a Volkswagen? Three in the back and three in the front. Gene can hardly get the lines out, he is itching to laugh. He got an elephant because dogs were not allowed in his apartment!
Then there is a delightful piece with a group of children, including his own Bridget. He focuses on three of them, Pavlin a guitarist and singer, Laurie a ballet dancer, and a tiny tot who plays the piano and also sings, while Gene dances.
They say actors should never work with children or animals. Gene broke the rule and got away with it. In fact his own charisma is enhanced, not overshadowed, when he promotes the talents of little ones or just spends time in their company. Even the baby elephant had to fight for attention!
Volume 22: The barber shop sketch. Gene does not have too much to say in this. There are several ‘politically incorrect’ jokes in that less squeamish age than that in which we now live. Gene’s main contribution is when he is asked if he believes in practising birth control. (They have been discussing population explosions). Gene replies, “Sure, how else are you gonna get good at it?” He spends most of the time laughing at the antics of Dom de Luise, Nipsey Russell and Dean.
Volume 27: A tribute to An American In Paris. A well constructed section featuring clips of Gene in the movie, intercut with songs in the studio.
Unknown Volume: Gene and Dean sit side by side discussing ‘blue’ songs. Dean says he can’t go on as he is all choked up. Gene asks if the sad song has affected him. Dean replies no, he has his shorts on backwards. He says “Let’s sing something bouncy.” Gene sings “Raquel Welch.” Then they do a medley of ‘happy blue songs’ – Blue Skies, Bye Bye Blues etc. Dean sings and Gene dances around him.
OL' BLUE EYES IS BACK. FRANK SINATRA. Recorded 20th September, shown 18th November 1973
Gene was the only guest on Frank’s ‘comeback’ show. I think it was Gene’s first work since the passing of his second wife Jeanne in May 1973. He had just returned from Ireland, where he had spent time with his children.
Frank introduces Gene by showing clips from the three movies they did together. “I made a few films with a guy who was and is a giant in the industry.”
Frank: “If we had to do those routines now, could we cut ‘em?”
Gene: “Are you kiddin’? No chance. Did you mention the year those movies were made? …THIRTY years ago.”
They then go into a wonderfully active routine, “We can’t do that any more”, in which they demonstrate that they both still have ‘charm and agility.’
Frank ends by doing some fancy jumping footwork and Gene does his old faithful – bouncing across the floor on his hands!
When they get their breath back, Frank says: “There was a basic difference between us – dancers want to move all the time”
Gene: ” and singers want to sit.”
They then do ‘Take It Easy’, Frank singing and Gene dancing, gently at first, then very energetically. They go off stage together, Frank trying in vain to ‘restrain’ Gene.
It is sweet and gentle stuff. Their lasting rapport is clear to see. Frank did a good thing perhaps, was a good friend, getting Gene back to work and occupied in doing what he always loved. There were many famous faces in the audience, including Sammy Davis Jr., and Lucille Ball.,
Chicago Tribune. September 18th 1973
Francis Albert coming back because he found retirement wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be – and Gene Kelly, one of the nicest guys in Hollywood (ask anyone).
Chicago Tribune. November 23rd 1973
Everyone is commenting on how great both Sinatra and Gene Kelly look and that for two ‘old men’, they sure hoofed up a storm.
GRAMMY SALUTES OSCAR. MARCH 1974
St. Petersburg Times. March 30th 1974
Grammy Salutes Oscar. A good idea to a nice bit of nostalgia. Gene Kelly is host for a tribute to Oscar-winning songs from the thirties to today.
ENTERTAINMENT HALL OF FAME AWARDS. MAY 1974
Los Angeles Times. May 23rd 1974, and Pittsburgh Post Gazette. May 21st 1974
Gene Kelly hosts Entertainment Hall of Fame awards honouring ten show business personalities – Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, and posthumously, Judy Garland, George Gershwin, DW Griffith, Eugene O’Neill and George Bernard Shaw.
May 1974. Letter from Johnny Green to Gene. (original in Gotlieb Archives, Boston.)
May 23rd 1974
...Thanks for your infinite generosity in playing so vital a part in making the initial year of the Entertainment Hall of Fame a reality...you were a friend, an understanding and compassionate colleague, a talented and savvy contributor and an invaluable spark plug...your on-camera performance in the Special is a joy to behold.
Bless you dear Gene. You are brilliant, gifted and an exceptionally wonderful human being...
SANDY DUNCAN SHOW 13th November 1974
A bright and cheerful show, entertaining if you like Sandy Duncan’s style of performance. She seems to be multi-talented, playing piano and dancing and singing very well.
At the beginning of the broadcast is a short section from the rehearsal, in which Gene can be seen looking casual, relaxed and amused.
In the show itself, Gene appears in a shiny dinner suit, which does nothing for me, though I am sure it was the height of fashion in the 70s. But as you watch him perform you forget about the suit! As in so many other shows, they do a medley of his songs. They begin with For Me & My Gal, she playing and singing and Gene dancing and singing. Next is Our Love Is Here To Stay, dancing sweetly together with good camera shots. Then comes Good Morning with lots of fooling by both of them. Broadway Melody follows with Sandy doing a pretty good interpretation of Cyd’s vamp dance! Then comes I Got Rhythm, in which they both dance well.
Gene ends – of course – with Singin’ In The Rain, in which he repeats many of the moves of the original, showing he can still do it more than twenty years later.
Unknown British TV listing magazine
Beginning on June 14, viewers in the Midlands can see some of the most stunning American-style “specials” ever made. The first stars Gene Kelly and Sandy Duncan…
A plea to ITV; please network the series soon and let everyone enjoy its first class entertainment.
TONIGHT SHOW FEBRUARY 1975
Time Magazine February 1975
Frustrated tap dancer Barbara Walters got the call she had been waiting for when she filled in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. Guest Gene Kelly graciously appraised Barbara’s potential. After a few turns round the set, Barbara asked Gene to check her waltz-clog…in no time Gene was showing Barbara how to tap and it was clear that Barbara’s latent ambitions were aflame.
THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW. November or December 1975 (The tape at the LA Paley Center had December, imdb has November)
Carson introduces Gene as “One of our most acclaimed entertainers.” He comments on the ‘waves of love’ coming from the audience to which Gene replies that it makes him feel secure.
They discuss his name, Eugene, and how his mother called him by his name when he was in trouble. He decided to use ‘Gene’ because the famous boxer Gene Tunney was thought the epitome of cool at that time.
They talk of the usual things, comparisons between Gene and Fred, as they were once more in the news because of That’s Entertainment II, and the ‘sissy’ label for male dancers. Gene said he was shy, so learning to dance was a good way of making the first contact with girls.
When asked if dancing was always arduous, he says it depends on the number you are creating. The newspaper/squeaky board dance in Summer Stock took longer than any other of his dances.
Gene tells of how he broke his arm while dancing on stage at the La Salle Hotel in Chicago in 1933. He picked himself up, took a bow, and walked off stage. (It was one of the most exclusive hotels in Chicago. I guess he was there at the World’s Fair, probably with his brother Fred, obtaining teaching from some of the best, including Berenice Holmes, and making a few bucks by performing wherever they could.)
The film which gave him the most pleasure was Three Musketeers. He said musicals were far harder to make, but you must never let the audience know you are working hard.
Carson asked if he enjoyed social dancing. Gene says he does, but when dancing with most ladies, they ‘freeze’, expecting him or Fred to throw them over a table or something.
Almost all of the questions asked of Gene are similar to those in the other Carson interviews I have seen so far, nothing really original, except for the broken arm story which I have not heard before.
THE WORLD OF MAGIC. December 1975
A programme starring Doug Henning, a little chap with big 70s hair, teeth and mustache. It opens with Gene’s face filling the screen – which is not a bad way to start anything. He is demonstrating a large formidable-looking water tank into which Doug will be shoved head-first, trussed up like a chicken for broiling. Gene, ever the showman, milks it - or should that be 'waters it' - for all it is worth. But we will have to wait a while before seeing Doug doing his Houdini bit.
If you like magic then this is a good show, interspersed with musical numbers. But if you are not ‘magically inclined’, it becomes rather long…
Towards the end Gene reappears to supervise the occasion of Doug’s getting himself tanked up. Again there is much drama and hyperbole, building to a crescendo as Doug is lowered by his ankles into the brimming tank, and two minutes later reappears – as if by magic!.
Actually it is a great trick, though I probably know how it was done – but I am not going to tell you!!! Gene is obviously enjoying himself immensely, maybe remembering the days when he and his brother Fred would put on shows which included magic tricks, when Fred was imprisoned in plastic handcuffs and a potato sack. Gene had tied him to the chair, so when the chair tipped over poor little Fred knocked himself silly and no doubt Gene got a good clouting!
New York Times. December 29th 1975
Gene Kelly substitutes for an ailing Orson Welles.
THE STEVE & EYDIE SHOW 1975
This was called Our Love Is Here To Stay and was a tribute to George Gershwin.
It is a well produced show telling the life story of Gershwin, interpsersed with his music and songs. Gene appears about half way through, following an introduction:
"Fifty years ago Gershwin went to Paris for the first time. Obviously the city made a great impression on him. Twenty five years later Gene Kelly went there to leave his indelible imprint on a film of Gershwin's An American In Paris, and it left a great impression on all of us."
There is footage of Gene with Bridget and Tim, accompanying Steve and Eydie and their son on a Paris trip, just running around and generally having a good time.
Then Gene and Steve sing a version of Tra La La La combined with I Got Rhythm.
There follow more shots of the group in Paris, outside the Opera, and on a boat.
Then they sing and dance a lively rendition of By Strauss
Shots of them in Montmatre follow. Eydie and Bridget get a caricature done by the street aertists, Gene chats with a couple of adoring fans and pulls faces at Bridget.
Back in the studio, Gene does Somebody Loves Me, dancing gently with several females who one by one, decide they don't love him and disappear! Silly women!! He walks off, then turns round to see Bridget sitting on a bench, and there is a very sweet and moving moment when they cuddle up together.
He joins Steve and Eydie for a chat about Paris, and remarks that everything he says about Paris sounds like a song cue - which it was. They sing S'Wonderful together and do some hoofing. That is the end of Gene's part, and the programme continues with an orchestral section.
THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW. February 1976
Gene and Fred Astaire appeared six consecutive nights on this show, promoting That’s Entertainment II.
Mike Douglas was very excited over the whole thing, was a little in awe of Gene and Fred, but spent far too much time singing. Sometimes both Gene and Fred looked a little uncomfortable – the studio shows were more relaxed than those on the soundstage at MGM, and Fred was hard work! He was not particularly eloquent, and sometimes looked bored. Mike Douglas tells a story in his autobiography, that Fred went to him after the first show and complained that he was not given enough to do, that Gene was doing most of the talking. When this was relayed to Gene he graciously sat back, deferring to Fred, never mentioning that he was aware of his complaining.
Monday February 16.
In the studio. Guests: Walter Matthau, Telly Savalas, Neil Sedaka.
Billed as a salute to Gene and Fred.
MD: “There are no two persons in the world better qualified to be spokesmen for this new film than the two greatest dancers in the world – boy is my mouth dry, I’m scared to death.”
Gene and Fred then walk on to a standing ovation. Gene blows a kiss to the audience.
MD then asks them to sign his daughter Kelly’s autograph book. Gene signs ‘to Kelly from Kelly G’
They talk of Ziegfeld Follies when Gene and Fred danced together.
MD: “What is it that made you two so distinctive?”
F: “I don’t know.”
G: When you dance on stage it’s more difficult. The camera is kind to some people. Many great dancers tried to dance on film and it doesn’t come off well. No one knows the reason why.” He then explained about the missing third dimension.
Asked about how they first met:
F: “The first time we met – I think I’ve known you all my life – was on set at Paramount. I was shooting the Firecracker number and you were going through the studio –“
G: “I came over to see you because I wanted to meet you, and you were very kind and allowed me to watch rehearsal.”
G: “My wife would say, ’Why do you look like a slob when you rehearse and Mr. Astaire always looks so nice?’”
There follow clips from various films.
Then they do a medley of songs. Fred's voice is sometimes stronger than Gene's, despite the difference in their ages.Fred does Stepping Out, Gene attempts Singin’ In The Rain but gives up after a few bars, much to the disappointment of the audience. Then he tries For Me & My Gal, with more success. Gene says, “God love Judy, what a great girl she was.”
They end with the three singing Be A Clown.
Walter Matthau appears.
G: “Walter and I were taking some still pictures for the Academy Awards which we were jointly presenting. I’m very bad at taking still pictures and Walter kept whispering dirty jokes into my ear…”
There is some inane chatter by Matthau then Neil Sedaka comes on to sing.
MD: "Did you get to your film previews?"
G: If I’m not directing or choreographing I don’t go to premieres. An actor watches himself…many a time I’ve winced at things I’ve done, and said I could have done that much better. It’s not all that much fun to see yourself on screen. Though the hardest thing I’ve found is to cut yourself out of a picture.”
Telly Savalas then enters.
“I was backstage looking at Gene and Fred and I said to myself here’s a couple of fellas who transcend generations. They’re simplicity, they’re class, they’ve been in the business close to four decades – let me tell you something; you’re beautiful.”
There follows some tedious stuff with a young boy who can pick horse-race winners.
Wednesday February 18th.
In the studio. Guests Henry Fonda, Ben Vereen, Marcel Marceau.
Gene and Fred come on to a standing ovation. MD asks how he feels when that happens. Gene says “I never got one before. [He WAS joking!] All I say is ‘thank you.’”
Fred is then asked to give the story of how he grew up in vaudeville with his sister Adele.
MD asks Fred if his legs had ever been insured. He thought not, but Gene said that his had once been insured by the studio with Lloyds of London.
Asked about their weight, Fred said he never altered much, his dancing weight was around 140 pounds. Gene said he had put on 5 pounds that week because he had not been able to play tennis. He usually weighed around 175, with a dancing weight of 160 –162. He said he was Fred’s weight when he was 12! MD says it was because he was more heavily muscled than Fred.
Asked who was their favourite partner, each cites the other.
Fred tells a story of a drunken woman insisting on dancing with him. He said he led her onto the floor for a couple of minutes then left. She never noticed he was gone.
They talk of other great dancers, Bill Bojangles Robinson, whom Fred said he had appeared with and played pool with. Gene says the Nicholas Brothers were sensational, and told how the studio was against him working with them in The Pirate, how the scene was cut out in certain states and countries. But was glad they were allowed to work together, they did some difficult dancing. And said they were still friends.
He says he stole a lot of steps from Bojangles, he and his brother would write down the steps in turn, he was very influential, in spite of usually standing still when dancing. They stole his rhythms.
Henry Fonda comes on and they talk about Cheyenne Social Club. He says it was at first a nothing part for him, but when they assigned Gene as director, Gene called him and within a week it was a totally different part, Gene even made him sing a song.
They talk about the studio and Gene says he did not meet Jimmy Stewart until he had been there for three years. Fonda says it was because Gene was too busy cutting a swathe. Gene replies that the Mid West is used to ‘swathes’, but Pittsburgh never had them!
They talk about ‘The Game’, how ‘bloody and vicious’ charades could be in the form devised by Gene.
Marcel Marceau comes on and they talk about mime, then sing That’s Entertainment.
Thursday February 19th.
In the studio. Guests Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Mitchum, Tony Orlando.
They talk about An American In Paris, and Gene sings I Got Rhythm.
Then questions are taken from audience members. Most of them are for Gene.
He is asked his most embarrassing moment.
He tells of playing the role of Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream while at St. Raphael’s school. He was dancing and well into it, not noticing, until the audience was roaring with laughter, that his pants were gradually slipping down and round his ankles. (If you want to see the very hall where it happened, go to the ‘Called it home’ page and check out the Gene Kelly auditorium at St. Raphael’s in Pittsburgh. I am sure at that moment he never dreamed that one day that hall would bear his name).
Fred is asked if he ever split his pants. He said he did not, because he usually wore quite baggy pants.
Gene was asked it is was true that Frank Sinatra taught him all he knew about dance. Gene admitted it, tongue-in-cheek, and added that Frank worked very very hard in order to learn to dance for Anchors Aweigh. He was very athletic.
Gene was then asked if he would autograph a woman’s left foot, as she wanted to sell it – her pantyhose! – at the church bazaar. There was much laughter as Gene did the signing.
Ella Fitzgerald comes on. Gene says the last time they met was the JFK inauguration gala in 1961. There was a snowstorm and they shoved whatever artistes were available, on stage. Nelson Riddle conducted the orchestra. Ella preceded Gene and he was so scared of following her on and having to sing, that he asked Riddle to cut the first chorus and he went straight into the dance.
Ella replied by saying she had always wanted to dance like Gene and Fred. Gene comments that she was indeed a good dancer, she actually started out on stage as a dancer.
Tony Orlando comes on. He says that he was present at a Friar’s Club Roast tribute to Gene although he had never met him. But one thing justified his presence. That when he first wanted to be in show business he danced and bounced off the furniture doing Singin’ In The Rain. He said he was the only kid in the neighbourhood with one wet left shoe.
more to follow.
DICK CAVETT’S BACKLOT. April 1976
A VERY brief appearance by Gene on this show recorded on MGM’s backlot. He is discussing special effects, walking along with Gene, when suddenly Gene gets ‘rained on’ while Cavett remains dry. A pretty weak joke. They briefly discuss Singin’ In The Rain. But this gorgeous pic resulted from the show so we shouldn’t complain!
THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW. 4th May 1976
I saw this TV show at the Paley Center in New York City.
It features Gene and Fred Astaire at the time of the release of That’s Entertainment II. I have paraphrased some of the conversation. Fred is not the easiest of interviewees, and Gene does his best to ‘nudge’ him along.
Gene comes on first, to loud applause. They discuss the making of TEII. Gene says he and Fred had nothing to do with the choosing or editing of the clips, and the dancing they do is mild – they don’t jump over tables any more.
Carson asks if Gene keeps in touch with his former colleagues in the movie business:
"I see them from time to time. I see Fred a lot. But I’m a homebody. How is your beauteous wife?”
Carson asks about dancing with women, and if he puts his leg in a cast as an excuse not to dance.
“Fred and I enjoy dancing in the old style, where you put your arms around the woman. Then the woman freezes because she expects you to throw her over a table, when we just want to do a foxtrot.”
They talk about Inherit The Wind, and Tracey and March. Gene said it was the musicals which made all the money, but the film which gave him the most pleasure was Three Musketeers.
He says he once had a chance to work with Katherine Hepburn but when they had finished putting rubber here and there on his face to make him look Chinese, he turned out like an Irish Oriental, and they traded him off to do Christmas Holiday.
He says the public decides whether you’re a hit or not.They mention Sinatra. Gene says that he worked his behind off to learn to dance because he wanted to do it. He had never been an actor, and was spontaneous, his first take usually being his best, giving others the wrong idea of him not wanting to rehearse. Gene says he likes to do a few extra takes, he thinks he improves a little each time.
Carson mentions Gene’s performance on roller skates. Gene says they were cheap ball-bearing skates, nothing special, and he and his brother Fred used to have a roller skate act, doing back flips etc. “He got me into the business. I wanted to be an attorney.”
Carson askes if anyone can be taught to dance.
“Anybody with co-ordination can be taught to dance," but he will never understand child prodigies like Mozart – maybe there is something to be said for reincarnation!
Then Fred comes on stage. Carson asks about Gene directing him in TEII. “The old master, when he’s directing, likes it to be done right. I love working with him. We have fun.”
Carson asks if they ever took falls when in their prime. Fred tells of how he fell onto a table on stage, on top of a girl. The audience loved it. “To make things look easy you have to extend yourself and sometimes you go pppthhh…”
He says a dancer does not have freedom to do as he likes, it is all down to mathematics and music, what they do is governed by the music. That’s why they sometimes do pratfalls.
Then Fred sings a couple of his compositions and Gene improvises by going over to the piano and singing the little known verses to I Got A Crush On You, and For Me & My Gal. They then talk over some film clips.
EAGLE COME HOME. MAY 1976
The Ledger. May 11th 1976
Eagle Come Home – the story of the American Bald Eagle…narrated by Gene Kelly.
THE DOROTHY HAMILL SHOW. 1976
In case you don't know (I didn't, being English and without an interest in skating!) Dorothy Hamill is an Olympic Gold Medal skating champion. She won Gold in 1976, so she was at the top of her game when this Special was made. She also did Specials with Perry Como and Andy Williams, but I don't know if they joined her on the ice as Gene did! Others taking part were Jim McCay - a sports writer and actor, and a six year old skating marvel, Carrie Weber.
It starts with Dorothy skating around as Gene sings about her life in a cringeworthy song, then narrates more. Gene looks good anyhow.
He chats with her, and then skates with her - very well, and for far too short a time.
There is lots of Dorothy on ice, which is fine if you enjoy watching skating.
Gene does a funny ice-hockey sketch with Jim McCay. They are enjoying fisticuffs, arguing about the game, dressed for the part in full ice-hockey gear, then start discussing cookery, and how to make souffles. They drag other team members into the argument and end up fighting again, this time over the best oven temperature to use. Gene, as always, throws his heart into the part, obviously enjoying himself, complete with black eye, split lip, and bruises all over. He never was 'precious' about his good looks was he?
More skating, Dorothy and Carrie, on a very cold outdoor rink. The poor little girl was shivering fit to bust.
Then there is a scene in a dressing room, where they talk about makeup. Gene adds a moustache and does some D'Artagnan-like moves, then picks up the hat and umbrella. Then he 'makes up' Dorothy in clown oufit and he also changes into clown gear - off screen!. They do Be A Clown, on skates, very well. Considering Gene was 64 at this point, his antics are amazing.
She then pays tribute to Gene by skating to some of his most famous dances. First is the An American In Paris ballet. Bizarrely she is dressed to resemble the hoofer in the Singin' In The Rain ballet, even down to carrying a suitcase! There is some good skating, and Gene sings Love Is Here To Stay, as she skates in a posh frock. Then comes the famous Anchors Aweigh dance with Jerry mouse. If she had kept quiet and just skated it would have been fine, but she hadda sing! And she can't (she admitted as much so I am not being cruel here). Little Carrie was cute in the mouse outfit and skated beautifully. Lastly comes Singin' In The Rain. Why are you not surprised?? Dorothy in a suit skating to the famous music is not as bad as it sounds, it comes across very well, and Gene enters as the cop, at the end, complete with rain hat.
One long final skating number, no more Gene, and that is it.
Nothing earth-shattering but kinda nICE!
Los Angeles Times. November 17th 1976
Gene Kelly is along to smooth some of the rough edges.
MARY TYLER MOORE VARIETY SHOW SERIES 1976
After All. Mary Tyler Moore, 1995
It was the hardest work I’ve ever done, mounting a one-hour show with song and dance, in the same five days it takes to do a half-hour comedy. But it was the best, most terrifying fun too. Gene Kelly, my adored dancing sex symbol from the forties and fifties, was my guest, for God’s sake…
NBC. THE FIRST 50 YEARS NOVEMBER 1976
Boca Ruton News. May 5th 1976
Gene Kelly will be the host for The First 50 Years, saluting NBC’s 50 years in broadcasting. To be colorcast in November.
CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD. DECEMBER 1976
Chicago Tribune. December 19th 1976
Christmas Around The World. With Gene Kelly, Liv Ullman, William Conrad, Marcel Marceau and Jonathan Winters.
MERV GRIFFIN TV SHOW 12th January 1977
Introduction: "He’s one of the most respected individuals in this community, he’s an actor, he’s a film and stage dancer, choreographer, sung and danced his way into all of our hearts many times on the silver screen. His name has been synonymous with all that’s good and glamorous in this town." [Gene comes on to very loud applause and cheers.]
Orson Welles is the other guest. They talk of meeting in 1937 in Chicago, where they and other, now famous, actors such as Laurence Olivier and John Barrymore, stayed together at the Ambassador East hotel.
Gene: I told Merv last time I was on, I would take my children to the West of Ireland. John Barrymore would have us up to his grand manor, and show the kids the horses and everything
He then tells a tale of Orson and himself being at a mutual friend’s home, one Christmas Eve. They were all a little ‘merry’, and Jo Cotton, another friend, hit Gene on the head with a toy hammer. Gene told him not to do that. They decided they were all a little worse for wear and should go home. Orson and Gene however, did not take their own advice, but sat talking politics for six hours! Orson was late for a radio show he was doing on Christmas day.
Merv Griffin states that Cover Girl was one of the best movies ever made [the audience agree and applaud wildly]. Orson says that Rita adored Gene. Gene replies that she was a very intelligent girl! He describes the fun he and Phil Silvers had with Rita, who was engaged to Orson at the time, that ‘extra’ footage had to be taken each day for technical reasons, and there were about 7000 feet of Gene and Phil groping Rita. Then Orson would appear and they would behave like angels!
Helen Rose, a costume designer is another guest. They discuss the body of Cyd Charisse, Rose saying that clothed or unclothed, Cyd could rival Marilyn Monroe for perfection of body.
Griffin says that most girl dancers don’t have what guys consider fabulous proportions, they are working so hard it exercises everything off. Gene agrees that the modern techniques of ballet training do away with the old style – ballerinas used to have lumpy legs doing too many bends.
MG: They have to have small breast so they can move.
G: They’re taller than they used to be.
MG: They’re too stretched out.
Helen Rose: None of Gene’s girls had lumps.
MG: Gene gave them a few!
MG: Lana Turner – now that is sexy.
G: I worked with her, I broke her arm in Three Musketeers. I had a fight with her in a scene. She said to throw her down harder. I said ‘Lana if I throw you harder I’m gonna bounce you.’ She said ‘throw me down as hard as you can’. Like a fool I broke her elbow. She fell off the bed. She was trying to do the scene better…the idea was that if I didn’t throw her hard enough it wouldn’t uncover the brand on her shoulder…We shot around her for six days then she came back with a little cast on. Did she cry? Yes, but I cried worse. I worried a lot.
Gene: I was always up in the girls’ dressing rooms because the choreographer had to stay pals with the dress designer, because we’d have one scene, sitting talking. Then the girl would get up to start the song. It would be two inches shorter. Then for the dance they’d cut the dress on the bias. In one scene we might have three or four dresses and the public never knew this.
That is more or less the end of the chat.
YABBA DABBA DOO. THE HAPPY WORLD OF HANNA-BARBERA 1977
The Ledger. November 20th 1977
Yabba Dabba Doo, The Happy World of Hanna-Barbera…will be highlighted in a two-hour special celebrating the 20th anniversary of the award winning partnership. Gene Kelly will host the retrospective.
Highlights of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Special
15th March 1977, NBC.
Gene was the host for this spectacular.
St. Petersburg Times. January 17th 1977
What you’ll see of emcee Gene, in serious black business suit, smiling from a high trapeze swing, or running from clowns, was filmed during two shows, with ‘wraparound’ emcee segments done separately. While here, Kelly and children dined at Peter’s Place one late evening.
January 1977 St. Petersberg Times
Gene had four bruised ribs from playing touch football with Tim. Had to abandon plans to MC part of the Ringling Brothers Circus from a trapeze.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. February 5th 1977 Gene Kelly, dancer, actor, director and producer, adds another dimension to his illustrious career when he hosts the all-new Highlight of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a special featuring selected acts from the 107th edition of the Greatest Show on Earth on NBC Tuesday March 15th.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. February 5th 1977
Gene Kelly, dancer, actor, director and producer, adds another dimension to his illustrious career when he hosts the all-new Highlight of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a special featuring selected acts from the 107th edition of the Greatest Show on Earth on NBC Tuesday March 15th.
Ocala Star Banner. March 11th 1977
Another plus for the show is the presence of host Gene Kelly. Gene Kelly is known to several generations of audiences and he is well-liked. He has always been involved with physical activities in his performances. During the special, Kelly rides a trapeze, clowns along with the clowns, participates in a balancing act and performs as a ringmaster. He is very much a part of the TV show.
THE DINAH SHORE TV SHOW 20th May 1977
This show is a tribute to George Abbott. I have it only on audio tape at present.
Gene comes on to ecstatic applause. Dinah Shore says: “They are as glad to see you as I am.”
DS: What’s your fondest memory of working with George Abbott?
Gene: I have so many fond memories. Everything I did with George Abbott turned out to be a hit, but it wasn’t my fault it was his.
I auditioned for Mr Abbott and they put me in a show called Pal Joey and I learned more from working under Mr Abbott’s direction than I deserved, and it’s done me more good in showbusiness than I could ever repay. He’s a great man.
DS: You did Pal Joey on stage, it was a stunning performance, one that people still talk about. It was a very sexy performance in those days.
They mention Leave It To Me. Gene says that an actor’s first role is always very important, he was one of five speciality dancers who worked around Mary Martin as she sang My Heart Belongs To Daddy.
Gene. On directing: It is more of a challenge. I got confidence to direct from Mr Abbott because I watched him for so long.
Gene: I didn’t think I would stay in Hollywood but what got me interested when I got out of the Navy was the challenge of being able to put on a dance for the screen.
GA: Stanley Donen was your boy wasn’t he? You brought him out here.
Gene: Yes, he was terrific, yes.
THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW 10th MARCH 1978.
This was a TV show, but at the moment I have only an audio tape of the interview, given to me by a kind friend.
Introduction: Gene Kelly’s an American star in Pasadena…[loud and prolonged screams and cheers]…This man is bound to dance in all of your memories.
“Gene, it’s a thrill to see you anytime.”
Gene says he is a little hoarse from all the rehearsing, and was asked if he ever got bored being asked the same questions all the time.
He tells of how Bridget comes on the show (Pasadena) and they get her to ask who is his favourite partner. He says that he and Fred A. have a little ‘in’ joke, that one always cites the other as being their favourite. Gene says: “I talk to him all the time, we have dinner and see each other.”
Griffin talks of the old movies, saying that watching them is often called nostalgia, but they are in fact great American works of art, which will never be done again.
Gene: ”I was talking backstage and saying that nostalgia is often a misnomer, and when I get letters from teenagers who have never seen An American In Paris before, it’s not nostalgia to them, it’s new…two years ago I got letters about the big craze around the colleges, the music of Gershwin.”
Griffin: “To see you do things we will always remember…such as the animated dance in Anchors Aweigh…must have taken months of incredibly hard work...”
“A dancer’s like an athlete and has a short career, has to train every day, keep in shape.”
“You brought ballet, classical dance, to movies.”
“I was originally a ballet dancer, but in those days if you did a classic ballet dance you had to disguise it. You didn’t wear tights. This is not to denigrate audiences, but it was because we did not have a ballet company in America when I was learning my trade.”
They spoke of Pal Joey.
“I wish we had made a movie of that. That’s when I was dancing the best I ever did.”
They talk of An American In Pasadena:
It is a Benefit for a charity started by Jane Russell in the 1950s, for homeless children. Gene said that many of those with whom he had worked and who were around at the time of the recording, were only too happy to get involved in the show.
For Me And My Gal:
Gene: “Everyone remembers me damaging my hand in the trunk, and forget Judy’s award-winning performance, her first grown-up role. She was great, helped me a lot too…”
Asked if he had been stunned to be working with Judy:
“I was stunned by the whole thing. I never thought I’d end up in Hollywood. I wanted to be a choreographer but no one would give me a job.”
Asked if he remembered the name of the dance school teacher his mother took him to:
“Her name was Ruth Fairgreave, she and her sister ran the school….I’m afraid it’s a mistake to take a young boy to learn dance under a woman. [gasps of surprise from the audience] Nothing about women’s rights, please. They dress you up in altar boy’s clothes…Buster Brown suits…You have to take the girl’s hand, point toes…that was the atmosphere in all the dance schools.”
He said that his sister taught him ballroom dancing – “One and two, one and two, don’t squeeze the girl too hard now Gene…”
“Being great solo dancers, are you and Fred good at parties, dancing with guests?”
“Depends on the party! Of course we are. It’s simple. Fred gets embarrassed, he’s a shy man. One night the hostess got really mad. We pretended to be talking about contracts all evening, because we didn’t feel like dancing.”
Asked if his body had been jolted by his unbelievable leaps and jumps:
“I was pretty nutty in those days. By the time you get older and wiser you are not able to dance any more.”
He said his favourite film to make was The Three Musketeers.
“It had more fun. I was like a kid playing cowboys and Indians. I enjoyed that more than any other film. It had pretty girls, Lana Turner, Angela Lansbury, June Allyson… A musical is very hard work. If you make it look hard you are not doing a good job.”
He talked of Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh, said he ‘worked his head off’ learning to dance, and did well because he was an athletic type.
Asked about his family:
“I have three children, been twice married, two grandchildren, and a boy just turned 16 and a daughter 14. I’m a widower. I have an older daughter in Michigan.”
“Is it hard having teenagers?”
“I’ve been through the teens before, I don’t think it’s going to be that much easier with these two.”
“Have they seen all your work, your films?”
“No not all of them…my boy likes The Three Musketeers, my daughter likes Anchors Aweigh – I think she likes Sinatra!”
“Do the two of them show any interest in show business?”
“No, not really. They’ve seen how hard it is to work, to do it.”
“Is directing a happy time for you?”
“I like directing. It’s more rewarding, more creative, more fulfilling, harder work. You have to know everyone else’s job.”
“I’m doing a lot of TV stuff this season. The kids and I hope to get away, take a vacation, go skiing.”
“Do you do it carefully?”
“I keep saying I’ll do it carefully, I’ve got hurt a couple of times but it’s fine.”
The interview ends here.
TRIBUTE TO MILTON BERLE. MR T.V. MARCH 1978
Gene is just one of innumerable stars to pay tribute to Milton Berle. He comes on to rapturous applause, for which he says “Thank you, you’re very kind.”
He says that they have heard about Milton Berle the comic, clown, songwriter, but he is here to talk about Milton Berle the dancer. Much laughter.
“I’ve watched Milton dance through the years and I can stand here without fear of contradiction and say that he is definitely a great – comedy talent!
“The only reason I’m kidding about Berle’s dancing is that he really could dance. A lot of guys who are pretty fancy on their feet shared the stage with Berle – whether they liked it or not! For years he gained a reputation of getting into everybody’s act. In many cases he also improved it. A lot of critics used to complain that Milton Berle was always ‘on’. Well, maybe he was, but because he was, so was every TV set in America.”
There follow clips of Milton Berle proving that he really could dance – a little.
NATIONAL CHEERLEADING CHAMPIONSHIPS. APRIL 1978
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. March 23rd 1978
National Cheerleading Championships. A 90 minute special, April 24th.
Pittsburgher Gene Kelly will assist Cheryl Ladd in a demonstration of her skill in this line of endeavor. A large roster of guest stars and judges will also take part in this first ever telecast of the annual event.
CINDERELLA AT THE PALACE 1978
This is an unusual programme, with Gene hosting, but taking lessons from the invisible man, as he wanders around the Palace Casino in Las Vegas, seemingly unseen by everyone. He is following preparations for the debut performance of singer Marlene Ricci, as a kind of ‘fly-on-the-wall’. Interspersed with shots of Marlene are performances by Paul Anka, Ann Margret, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and Merv Griffin. Gene seems to be enjoying himself, and makes lots of ascerbic comments on the Las Vegas way of life. Unfortunately, Marlene does not seem to have ‘made it’ as a star. I never heard of her anyway.
TONY AWARDS. JUNE 1978
Pittsburgh Post Gazette. June 3rd 1978
The Tony Awards live from Schubert Theatre in New York City.
…and Gene Kelly…will recall when the theatre first touched them and changed their lives.
SALUTE TO RICHARD RODGERS June 1978
In this tribute, Gene takes the role of Oscar Hammerstein and Henry Winkler is Lorenz Hart. A cleverly constructed show in which Oscar and Larry discuss Rodgers’ work together. There are many guest appearances, with performances of all of Rodgers’ major songs. An entertaining programme, though Gene is made to look older than his actual years, for a change.
He begins the show in an empty theatre, dressed as himself:
“This theatre represents every brick and steel and wood enclosure built for the unfolding of dreams…the final step in the creative process where words on a page are given breath and life…the unspoken bond between audience and performer…lasts for a brief time and then lives on only in memory…I owe a personal debt to Richard Rodgers and I’m delighted to be able to lend a hand – or a foot or a voice – to honour him this evening.”
(Sorry the image quality is poor, the DVD quality is not too good.)
ROYAL BALLET SALUTES THE USA. July 22nd 1978
A 2.5 hours TV special hosted by Gene, from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
MICKEY MOUSE 50TH BIRTHDAY TV SPECIAL 1978
Gene appears for only a few seconds on this DVD.
"Mickey's greatest asset was being current with the times [Also a Kelly asset!]...1928 was a truly amazing year..."
He then talks about Mickey's first film called Plane Crazy, based on Charles Lindbergh's historic flight of that year.
"About the same time the matinee idol Douglas Fairbanks made a popular movie titled The Gaucho". Footage of Fairbanks follows, with footage of a similar film by Mickey.
THE CARPENTERS' CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 1978
Produced in Hollywood by ABC TV.
If you like the Carpenters you will love this. If you don’t, there is still much to enjoy, although it is, to modern eyes, rather corny and staged.
Gene was top guest, with Christie and Jimmy McNichol and Georgia Engel (?spelling), and a rather weird young man named Peter Pitt, introduced by the Carpenters as their ‘new friend’ who was allegedly bringing magic to the proceedings. As he seemed to spend most of his time on the roof in the snow, grinning manically and making signs with his hands, I am not quite sure exactly what magic the was doing! Though he did look like he was away with the fairies.
The show takes the form of a party at the home of Karen and Richard. The guests coincidentally all wear sparkly green and white. They each give gifts to the others.Gene has a theory which he calls Kelly law, that people give to others what they would most like to receive themselves. Karen brings the gift of food (ironic considering the illness she sadly suffered from) and Gene says (in a thick Irish accent) that food is: ”The sustenance of life itself, the daily bread from which all the sandwiches of life are sliced.”
He then brings ‘the gift of old Erin’ in song: ”I bring you a gift from the sod of old Erin, a shamrock to wear on St Nicholas’ Day. And clogs on your feet are what you should be wearing’, to celebrate Christmas the Old Country way.”
He gives gifts of shamrocks to all present (Well, it was cheap!).
Then he sings and dances Christmas In Killarney, complete with hat and cane,
with the others joining him for an Irish clog. Very gentle, easy stuff, but enjoyable. The old Irish charm is still very much in evidence.
We next see the twins’ parents visiting briefly and the mother goes all unnecessary because she gets a kiss from Gene – and who can blame her?
There follows a section on the history of Carols. Gene and the twins sing
O Come All Ye Faithful, in Latin. It is the best part of the show for me, quite beautiful, Gene’s light, high tenor blends well with the others. He says that “Christmas and its music are timeless and universal.”
THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. April 1st 1979
This was a one hour show, give or take an ad. or twenty. Mary Tyler Moore is Mary McKinnon, a TV show celebrity, and the show shows her making a show. Confused already huh??
Mary is very excited at the prospect of having Gene Kelly on the show. But she is also nervous – “Gene Kelly is a dancing superstar, he’s a legend.” [We won’t argue with that.]
We see the rehearsals for the ‘show’ going well, she dances with the choreographer with no problem. Gene enters unseen and watches. As soon as she spots him, Mary goes to pieces [Who can blame her?] During rehearsals, someone says of Gene: “Look at him, he even walks grace.” [We won’t argue with that either.]
Back at home Mary does a medley of Gene’s songs as she flits around the kitchen, gazing adoringly at his picture. [So, she’s normal, just like us!]
We then go back to the rehearsal hall where Gene wears a very silly face and outfit and takes part in a sort of funny doctor sketch and Mary wears a big nose. For anyone who is proboscically challenged – ie has a big nose – you may not want to see this sketch!
Then it is time for Mary to rehearse with Gene, and her back gets stuck. It is psychosomatic.
People try to get her moving but without success.
We cut to Mary and Gene sitting in the rehearsal hall talking. He relates that he made a film with Frank Sinatra, and had to do eight production numbers in three days – and he lost his voice. He said that all artists have probelems sometimes. He said that he had not danced much for several years and was nervous about doing the number alone. She offers to talk him through the moves and gradually he gets her on her feet and she dances happily until she eventually realises that he has tricked her into forgetting her ‘bad back’. This scene is lovely, seems to reflect Gene’s true nature as a wise teacher and encourager, knowing just how to handle individuals and help them to achieve what they desire. Even against their will sometimes, and without their knowing what he is up to. The song they do is Ballin’ The Jack.
At the end we see them on stage, both dressed in formal attire, singing and hoofing to Give My Regards To Broadway.
This is a sweet show, nothing major but nicely done. Michael Keaton, with big hair, is one of Mary’s sidekicks. Gene’s clothes are typical late 70s, knotted spotty handkerchiefs round his neck, and shall we say colourful outfits. But he brushes up well for the final dance.
THE BIG SHOW. MAY 1980
New York Times. May 6th 1980
The Big Show. Gene Kelly, Nancy Walker, the hosts.
This is a real treat, Gene and Nancy Walker had been friends for many years, and it shows in the warmth of their interaction. The whole show is funny, witty and well-produced. A big thank you to my friend Vicki for sharing it with me.
It starts with some great rehearsal shots, Gene looks good, in casual gear, fooling around with Nancy.
They begin the show with If My Friends Could See Me Now.
NW: Nice to see lots of your fans at the show.
G: Where? Oh, I didn’t see them. (The crowd has dozens of umbrellas raised right in front of him.) How nice of you all to remember.
NW: Well, who could forget the Umbrellas of Cherbourg?
We see the first guests, skaters from Hungary.
Then Nancy and Gene do a lovely vaudeville medley, including Shine On Harvest Moon, which he had done some years earlier in a TV show from the Hollywood Palace, with Joey Hetherton; Take Me Out To The Ball Game, wearing all the gear and looking about 18; Noel Coward’s A Room With A view, with Gene briefly playing piano and looking nothing like a truck driver or the ice cream man, in formal attire.
They end with him doing Yankee Doodle Dandy in a tribute to George M. Cohan, combined with Grand Old Flag. The medley ends with a smacker of a kiss for Nancy.
Later in the show they do a funny sketch. She is a secretary obsessed with cleaning the office. Gene is her boss. As he enters she spills the contents of a watering can down the front of his trousers….
He is waiting to see a Mr. Axelrod, a top British aeroplane designer who is bringing the prototype of a super jet, which he has spent four years constructing. Nancy would not let him in as he might make a mess.
She constantly pesters them while they are negotiating, and knocks a window cleaner off the window-sill while dusting.
Then she slips and sits on the plane! Mr.Axelrod is devastated and leaves. Gene is furious and says he will get her locked up for murdering the window cleaner. But he appears outside once more, unscathed. Gene accidentally knocks him off again and she then promises to smuggle in some polish so he can clean his cell when he is imprisoned for murder! It is much funnier than it sounds, because of the perfect comic timing of both Gene and Nancy.
At the end of the show they do a musical sketch, Gene is an egotistical impresario bullying his latest ‘star’. He wears a hat and coat reminiscent of Don Lockwood in the first scene of Singin’ In The Rain. He decides to make the lowly backstage girl Nancy into a star, which results in some funny scenes. In the end she becomes a star and fires him.
The show ends with Gene and Nancy in evening dress, doing a little ballroom dancing.
OMNIBUS. JUNE 15TH 1980. ABC
In this TV show Gene reprises part of his original Omnibus programme, Dancing, A Man’s Game.
To assist him in restating his thesis on the connection between sport and dancing, he has Lynn Swann, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, and Peter Martins, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet company. He introduces Twyla Tharp who does the choreography.
Through various dance/sports moves Gene demonstrates how much both have in common. To finish, Swann confesses that he has studied ballet, tap and modern dance for several years, and he and Gene end with a little hoofing.
THE MUPPETT SHOW. August 19th 1980.
This is available on DVD, part of the 30 year celebration of the Muppetts. It is series five, episode one. The International Movie Database says it was the last show to be filmed but not the last one to be seen.
On the DVD the show is introduced by Brian Henson, the son of Jim, the creator of the Muppetts. He says that when they asked Gene to do the show, his one stipulation was that he would not do Singin’ In The Rain. Well, the writers turned that into a running gag, with Kermit being triumphant, as usual.
Gene spends most of the show in the wings, either with a huge smile on his face, or a ‘what on earth is going on’ expression.
Kermit is horrified that Gene is refusing to perform on stage and tries every trick in the book to make him change his mind.
In the meantime we are treated to such treasures as the ‘endangered species chorus line’, and the invisible cheeseburger. Beauregard is convinced by his fortune telling cards that the end of the world is near.
Kermit persuades Gene to teach him to dance and draws his on stage in that way. We see Kermit’s legs! Gene does some basic steps to the tune of the Worry song of Jerry mouse from Anchors Aweigh.
Kermit tells Beau that Gene is one of the great entertainers, and Beau says he has given his sponge-mop to Gene because he no longer needs it, this being the end of the world. We cut to the wings where a bemused Gene is seen holding a sponge-mop.
Next a trio of dogs sing and play Fit As a Fiddle from SITR.
Gene then gets a rare treat – a chance to sing a love song to Miss Piggy! He sings, very gently, You Wonderful You. I don’t know how he kept a straight face. He is a wonderful actor!
Gene then comes on stage to explain that he will not do Singin’ In The Rain because he has done it so much that people are tired of it. In desperation Kermit introduces a Texas Jug band who sing Water, on the soaking wet set they had arranged for Gene.
Gene then explains that it is a great song and he used to do it at the drop of a hat – someone drops a hat – but he finally realised that he would never be able to do it as well as in the movie.
The pianist Muppett (can’t remember his name) plays the SITR vamp, hoping to make Gene sing it, but instead he segways into S’Wonderful; you Were Meant For Me; and The Bells Are Ringing
Gene finally relents and sings it, accompanied by the entire population of Muppettland. They give him an umbrella and, with a wink for Miss Piggy, he turns and walks slowly onto the set resembling the SITR street. I find something about this little scene quite touching. I have no idea why, but I remember reading that others had the same reaction. Just Gene working his magic, I guess, even when surrounded by the weirdest set of puppets you ever saw.
Deseret News. 14th August 2005
As a tadpole, it’s tough to dance…But later in the series I had a chance to realize my dream, and I even got to dance with Gene Kelly doing Singin’ In The Rain. It doesn’t get more magical than that.
HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS. OLIVIA-NEWTON-JOHN 1980
Gene is reunited with his Xanadu co-star Olivia. It is clear that they adore each other so the show is sweet to watch. It is also good to see two real professionals at work, making everything look easy.
Olivia asked him how women react when he is dancing with them. He said the usual comment was “Get off my feet, potato-head”, or “Don’t hold me there, my husband’s watching.” He said they mostly asked him what Frank Sinatra was really like.
They then go into a song and dance routine about making a movie, which is witty and fun.
DEBBY BOONE SHOW 1980
This is one of those shows which Gene could do in his sleep, and is not one of my favourites of his TV appearances. He appears on stage via a flash of lightning, dressed in some kind of safari suit with a pink shirt and neckerchief, typical 80s attire.
He and Debby perform a medley of his songs, dressed in various costumes. First is a MacDonald/Eddy take-off in formal costume, singing S’Wonderful. Then the best section, For Me & My Gal, done in Vaudeville style, though it ends with a ‘finger-puppet’ dancing bit which is truly awful. Maybe Gene refused to dance so this was their way of compensating! Then bizarrely, they sing Good Morning in 18th century costume, followed by I Got Rhythm accompanied by what can only be described as a keyboard-playing octopus, complete with psychedelic lighting. It ends with everyone playing at once, and with Gene back in safari suit.
Gene’s voice is strong and good in this show.
OPRYLAND SHOW. JANUARY 1981 (Repeated 16th June 1981.)
Chicago Tribune. January 14th 1981
Ben Vereen and Gene Kelly in Opryland: Night of Stars and Future Stars. A country music special with Gene Kelly as host and featuring Debby Boone.
AWARDS SHOW FOR FASHION DESIGNERS. 1981
Daily News. June 1st 1981
Gene Kelly…will host the first Annual Awards Show for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, to be televised on Sunday September 13th. Bill Blass, President, reported that Mr. Kelly will be joined by some of the world’s most glamorous women as well as outstanding personalities from Hollywood and Broadway for this 90 minute special.
CHRISTMAS GOLD. Edited July 5th 1982
Produced by 20th Century Fox for Bob Booker Productions
Gene hosts this celebration of Christmas songs and verses.
He says that The Night Before Christmas was his favourite when he was a child. He had memorized the words even before he could read.
We also see him playing Jingle Bells on piano.
Other participants include Bing Crosby’s widow, Katherine; Pat Boone; Nat King Cole’s daughter Natalie, and the Utah Mormom Tabernacle choir.
He shows a Chipmunks clip, for his grandchildren.
He can be seen sitting in front of a glowing fire. He says that a fire is like an old friendship – it takes a time to get going but is then full of warmth.
He ends by talking about his own childhood and the thrill of opening gifts. He says that great gifts come in small parcels, but the biggest is best!
DOM DELUISE AND FRIENDS 1983
Not one of Gene’s most fascinating appearances! Ok if you like Dom’s style of comedy. I’m afraid he doesn’t tickle my funnybone! The best part about it is the glimpse inside Jimmy’s restaurant, which I think was a favourite haunt of Gene’s. Dom needs tips from Gene as he aims to become a song and dance man. One of my friends calls it ‘offensive’ that Dom’s attempts at dancing in the rain are intercut with the original, and he even gets to wash an elephant during the song! Go figure!
THE ROYAL VARIETY SHOW. LONDON PALLADIUM November 1983
Louis Benjamin. Royal Variety Show. London 7th November 1983. ‘Gotta Dance’
The response from Gene Kelly was typical of everyone we approached. We dearly wanted him to come to London to host the show – and he volunteered his wholehearted support as soon as it was mentioned.
Newspaper clipping, source unknown
Put on your dancing shoes for this year's Royal Variety Performance. Because dance is the theme of this year's show...Recorded at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London, it's hosted by one of Hollywood's most famous song-and-dance men, Gene Kelly...
THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW. January 24th 1985
The purpose of Gene’s appearance was to promote That’s Dancing.
Carson more or less repeats all of the questions he asked Gene back in May 1976. So I have included only the parts of the conversation which differed from the 1976 interview.
They talk about the idea that audiences believe that Singin’ In The Rain was the only thing Gene ever did.
Carson asks Gene if he thinks there has been resurgence in dancing. Gene says there is a sociological link between types of dancing and what is going on in society at any given time. As an example he mentions the disco dancing his son Tim does at USC. The dancing is more percussive, with no romance, a sign of a more open society.
He says God bless his mother who always ensured that her children were involved in cultural activities. He talks about having to play the violin and having to learn to fight in order not to be seen as sissy.
Carson then shows a movie clip from TD of the Moses Supposes number from Singin’ In The Rain. Gene comments that he was younger then.. He said that he and Donald rehearsed for a week and a half and shot the number in two days.
Carson comments that Gene was known for his acrobatic dancing, and Gene says that he loves to watch breakdancing, and that the popular ‘moonwalking’ originated with one of his dance heroes, Dancing Dotson.
Carson asks if Gene preferred straight movie roles or dancing roles. Gene replied that it depended on the role. He mentioned Inherit The Wind as something special.
AMERICAN TREASURE. A SMITHSONIAN JOURNEY. MARCH 1986
This is an excellent 90-minute TV programme showcasing the work of the Smithsonian Institution throughout the United States. Gene is in Washington DC and narrates throughout. It is very interesting and informative, even, or maybe especially, for an English person like me!
Gene’s voice can be heard right at the start:
“What do these things have in common? The original star-spangled banner; the spaceship Columbia; a collection of Cuban tree snails; the Hope Diamond…Lincoln’s top hat…a baseball signed by Jimmy Foxx…”
“Hi, I’m Gene Kelly. They are all part of the Smithsonian Institution, one of the world’s foremost places of research and scholarship.”
Gene goes on to list the many and varied buildings belonging to the Institution, and explains that it was a remarkable gift to the U.S. by an Englishman who had never seen America. In 1826 James Smithson willed over half-a-million dollars to support research and scholarship in the free, fresh atmosphere of the New World. Twenty years later the Smithsonian was born.
Gene says that he remembers coming to Washington for the first time in 1926. That it was a wonderful place for a teenager. Many things were free. His favourite was the Smithsonian, and he remembered the Arts and Industries Building best.
He then takes us on a guided tour of some of the areas, including the Air and Space museum. He remembers where he was on the evening of May 21st 1926 when Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris. He was “Crowded round an old crystal set listening to the far-off voices.” He was soon able to see the moment at the local movie theatre.
He goes on to talk about flight, space, history, exploration, inventions and immigration, and baseball, all illustrated with appropriate film and pictures.
Next we are shown a ‘playing piano’ which is churning out Bird In A Gilded Cage.
He recalls that the song was popular in the Saturday afternoon shows he saw as a child. “If we were lucky we’d go to one of the big Vaudeville houses where we could see everything on a single stage – song and dance, magic, comedy. It was on a stage show that I first saw May Bell sing the song. I also remember being captivated by Harry Houdini…and by the routines of top entertainers like George M. Cohan… As for movies, we flocked to see silent stars such as Charlie Chaplin…and when the romances of Gilbert and Garbo…filled the screen they won our hearts.”
Gene then tells of how he used to go down to the railway tracks on Sunday afternoons to watch the trains go by, which leads nicely into the next section: transport. He can be seen at an old gas station, manning the ancient pump, recalling that he knew a little about it because he once pumped gas for a summer in 1930. his first car was a second-hand Chevy, which took him all over the U.S. “I remember many a night sleeping in the back seat under a blanket. Who could afford a hotel? After all, it was the Depression. Everyone on our block was out of a job.” Another handy link to the next section! Political memorabilia.
Gene recalls how comforting it was to listen to FDR in his Fireside Chat radio show.
At the end he tells us that we have seen only a tiny fraction of the treasures owned by the Smithsonian.
“What started out as one man’s investment in the future of America has blossomed into a whole country’s commitment to study and understand itself. If James Smithson were to return today, what would he thing of all this? I’m sure he would be very pleased with the results of his bequest and we should be very proud.”
The programme is available on video, though hard to find.
LIBERTY WEEKEND. NEW YORK. JULY 3-6, 1986
Gene took part in the celebration of the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. He performed Singin' In The Rain.
BALLET AT THE MET. JULY 1986
Newsday. July 10th 1986
Tuesday night’s ballet extravaganza at the Met. offered…the much vaunted on-stage pairing of Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing with Leslie Caron. Gene Kelly was emcee.
Chicago Tribune. April 6th 1986
A Metropolitan spokesman says that Gene Kelly has granted permission for his choreography from An American In Paris to be used.
FRANCE SALUTES NEW YORK. JULY 20TH 1986
Possibly linked with the Liberty celebrations, Gene hosted this festival/benefit.
THE MOVIE PALACES. JULY 1987
A production of the Smithsonian Institution. A 30-minute programme.
Gene hosts this nostalgic look back at the great movie palaces built mainly during the 20s and 30s. He is seen in the Wiltern Theatre in L.A.
“I want you to come with me back to a time that where we went to the movies was as important as the movies we went to see…What we saw, transported us to other worlds. Pictures that moved, lived, and we travelled outwards to the stars or inward to all those hidden places we keep our own dreams. What we saw was unbelievable, amazing, exciting. Made us laugh, cry. Helped us celebrate the good times and forget the bad times. This was the magic of the movies."
We are then told of the building of many of the amazing edifices, the men behind them and the reasons for them. Gene explains that by the 1930s it was the movie stars who drew the crowds. We are then treated to the opening scene from Singin’ In The Rain. He tells of how he and others went to the movies two or three times a week and could see stage acts and orchestras as well as movies – great value for 65 cents.
“We sat in this darkened theatre and we lived in the world of our imagination…American picture palaces were both reality and fantasy. Part of our past, becoming once again part of our present, and our future. Today, almost seventy years after the birth of the American picture palace, we can again enjoy an acre of seats in a garden of dreams.”
THE BEST OF HOLLYWOOD. The Disney Channel. March-April 1988
The Disney Channel Magazine. March/April 1988
Who better than Gene Kelly to serve as the host of The Best Of Hollywood, the Disney Channel’s ongoing presentation of American movie classics…Kelly projects an air of charm and authority. But then, he’s been there…”But it’s not a showcase for me,” Kelly laughs gently. “I get to serve as a spokesman for some wonderful films…being presented for an audience who loves them, as well as a new audience of young people who may never have seen them before. I think it’s a darned good idea.”
...It's fitting that America's classic films are introduced each week by one of the men who helped create -and enrich - motion pictures.
AN EVENING WITH GENE KELLY. 1980s
During the last few active years of Gene's life he often performed a 'one-man-show', sometimes called a retrospective, when he would appear on stage in front of rapturous audiences to reminisce about his career, show film clips and answer questions.
Boca Raton News October 22nd 1987
Gene Kelly performs at Sunrise Musical Theatre Friday October 30, An Intimate Evening with Gene Kelly.
More to follow