JUST LOOK AT IT...
Everyone knows that Gene loved Paris, and the whole of France, and spent much time there. Below you will find pictures of some of the spots in Paris which have relevance for Gene's fans. He certainly was a great ambassador for the country.
Los Angeles Times June 10th 1953
Gene Kelly is about the most popular Hollywood star ever to come here. The French absolutely adore him. Leslie Caron worships the ground he treads on.
Projections 4. Ed. John Boorman, Tom Luddy, David Thomson, Walter Donohue. 1995.
Graham Fuller, from an interview with Gene, 1994.
…Kelly, of course, is a Francophile…I'd contend though that the French respond to something in the Kelly persona…that, emotionally and intellectually, reminds them of themselves….As brashly American as he undoubtedly was, Kelly also had a common, metropolitan quality that was unique among Hollywood music men, his pushiness, his sexual vigour, and his nervous energy are redolent of the boulevardier or the testosterone-driven matelot. He could easily have played a Parisian in America.
Irish America magazine December 1990
Interview with Michael Scanlon
Scanlon: France has played a big part in your life hasn't it?
Gene: Yes, I've always had a love affair with the French. I've worked at the Paris Opera with the ballet company and over the years I've shot a couple of films there. And they were kind enough to give me two awards, The Legion of Honor and The Commander of Arts and Literature.
Scanlon: Your film, An American In Paris, which won the Academy Award probably did more for French tourism than anything else in the last thirty-five years.
Gene: Well, the French say very kindly that it did. But, you know, we didn't even shoot that film in France. We shot that entire film right here in the United States on the back-lot of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. We just had a few shots of actual Paris but, of course, everybody thinks we shot the film in Paris.
I want to visit France again but it all depends on the availability and the timing.
New York Times May 16th 1950
Gene Kelly is returning to Hollywood after a week’s stay in Paris, where he tested singers and dancers for roles in his forthcoming Metro film.
Modern Screen December 1952
American In London
…such idyllic spots as the darling old mill they’d lived in in France. There the great wheels had long since stopped churning water, and were covered with the kind of ivy that only grows on the handsome estates just outside of Chartres. The Moulin de La Roche, 40 kilometers from Paris, was fine while Gene was in the planning stages [of Invitation To The Dance.]
Motion Picture & Television January 1953 Sara Hamilton
Home became uppermost in the Kellys’ mind the minute they hit the city of Paris. They wanted a place of their own where they could be together. So while Gene auditioned from morning to night, Betsy, in the middle of the crowded tourist season, searched for a house. She found it in an old reconverted mill in a village outside Paris.
“The mill hadn’t too recently been made into a home,” Betsy told me, “for water still ran lustily on both sides of us.” But, as she explained, there were compensations. The housekeeper and a gardener with a bicycle went with the house. The Kellys were delighted with the package deal and settled down to solid suburban life.
Together they caught an early train to Paris each morning – each to go his separate way. Kerry went to her French school. Betsy to the Berlitz School of Languages for a day’s wrestle with French and Gene to a rented rehearsal hall to work on the choreography for the film.
“The thinking part of his work had begun,” Betsy said, and often quite alone in the hall for days at a time, Gene thought and tried out routines. In the evening the Kellys three gathered together and caught the local train home. And, exactly as he did at home in Hollywood, Gene’s first words while still in the doorway were, “What’s for dessert?” Even in France, the home of fine foods, if it was jello, his favourite, he was as delighted as a kid…
Despite the weighty responsibility of this new adventure in moviemaking, the Kelly eyes can still twinkle. His French, he told us, so fractured the French members of his company, it threw them into hysterics. He still gives out with the “parlez-vous” when necessary.
Modern Screen July 1953
Across the Pont Neuf, one of the smaller bridges that span the Seine in Paris, you find the Place Dauphine, a quiet, respectable, middle-class French neighborhood.
On the sixth floor of an old-fashioned apartment house, overlooking this picturesque tree-filled square, Gene Kelly lives with his talented, outspoken, beautiful young wife, Betsy Blair, and their only offspring, a charming, bright-as-a-new-penny ten-year-old girl alliteratively named Kerry.
The Kellys live in a five-room flat sub-leased from a lady who used to reside at the American Embassy, which is why when you ask around the Place Dauphine where Gene Kelly lives, the French children in the neighborhood giggle, do a little dance step for you, then point to the sixth floor and shout, “L’apartment Americain.”
Many an evening while we were living in Paris, a walk along the Seine would relax and inspire me. Paris has a flavour all its own…no wonder it has such fine performers…
Gene. Introduction to An American In Paris
Paris is a mood, a longing you didn’t know you had until it was answered. Paris is like love or art or faith, it can’t be explained, only felt.
Los Angeles Times. April 9th 1955
Gene Kelly Emissary to Cannes.
Up to the very last minute yesterday Gene Kelly was working on It’s Always Fair Weather so that he could catch a plane to New York and Paris with his daughter Kerry last night.
New York Times August 2nd 1962
An explosion in the suburbs of Boulogne ripped apart yesterday a car owned by Gene Kelly.
Daily Mail 17th September 1981
The original American in Paris, Gene Kelly, has been back in the French capital showing his daughter Bridget, 16, the sights of the city he immortalised in celluloid in 1951. Although the maestro does not dance these days (“I wouldn’t do a step for anybody in the world”, he says), he took Bridget and her friend Monika Mahoney to see the high kickers of the Moulin Rouge. With them was blonde Claude Bessy from whom Gene, 69, has been inseparable for most of the year. And the high spot of the stay is the gala tonight, honouring him with appearances by American In Paris co-stars Leslie Caron and George Guetary. The gala benefits the American Center For Students and Artists, which is why the retiring Gene felt he could not say No.
The French seemed to love Gene as much as he loved them!
The famous quai. It is amazing how many people think Gene and Leslie danced on the real quai, it was such a beautiful reproduction. When I stood there it was as much of a thrill as if they really had danced there!
I couldn't get to the steps as part of the quai now seems to be a car park! But these steps were just along the riverbank at the next bridge.
The fountain in the Place de la Concorde was just as beautiful as I imagined it to be.
The Trocadero is a large open space where it seems you can do anything you like. There was open air dancing going on, as well as a political protest, both of which I think Gene would have approved of! It is also a wonderful viewing platform for the Eiffel Tower. The pic was taken from there as they turned on the nightly light show.
This is the museum of the Legion of Honour, with the green dome and the flag. And the Ecole des Beaux Arts. (I didn't manage to see the balcony or the black & white ballroom!)
I thought this might be appropriate. France and America united! now all we need is Big Ben in the picture to make the Entente Cordial complete!
The wonderful Paris Opera House. If you can zoom the pic. of the rear of the Opera, you will see that a forthcoming attraction is Genus!!! It is interesting to see that the current programme for the Ballet company includes several non-classical pieces, and exciting to know that Gene was a pioneer in bringing new, modern ballet to the stage of the Opera.
This is Montmartre, crowned by Sacre Coeur, where Jerry showed off his wares! From the direction of her gaze I think Milo appreciated his 'assets' even before she looked at the pictures! You can see the 'dome' of Sacre Coeur in the distance.
Couldn't resist snapping this statue at Versailles when I recognised it. It once had the world's greatest body draped over it!!!
I am not the only one who found sightseeing very tiring!
PAS DE DIEUX. 1960
St.Petersburg Times. February 4th 1960
Gene Kelly has flown to France to prepare the ballet he will stage at the Paris Opera this Spring.
May 16th 1960 (original in Gotlieb Archives, Boston)
Letter from Ira Gershwin giving permission for Gene to change the music slightly if necessary
Aphrodite married to Zeus but bored. Amused by Eros.
Zeus and Aphrodite dance a pas de deux
She sees a beautiful young lifeguard on a beach, goes to earth so she can have him. But he has a sweetheart,
Eros shoots him and his girl. She falls for Eros, the boy falls for Aphrodite.
All have a gay old time.
Zeus locates Aphrodite and hurls a thunderbolt, which hits her on her derriere.
Two large beds suspended so the audience can see the occupants
One has Aphrodite and the boy, the other has Eros and the girl.
Zeus descends, flies Eros out of the scene then draws the boy and girl into each others arms.
Aphrodite awakes alone. Will not submit to Zeus, finds another man and leaves.
Zeus becomes a man and goes to a sleazy night club. Aphrodite's man is topman at the club. Zeus and the man dance a challenge.
Aphrodite falls for Zeus before he reveals who he is.
They all celebrate and ascend into heaven.
Hedda Hopper. 1960
Gene, on directing the Paris Opera ballet:
It was fun, watching those girls wiggling their hips. The French said at one time we were ten years behind in Dance. Now they say we're ten years ahead...
I took Grace Kelly to see the show and the photographers were lined up outside, had a field day...
The ballet went over big with Sam Goldwyn...he hugged and kissed me and said he'd never seen anything like it by an American.
Newsweek July 1960
To cheering applause and many curtain calls last week, so ended Pas De Dieux – the first jazz ballet ever staged by the stately old Paris Opera. It was hard to tell, however, whether the audience and the majority of critics were applauding the ballet or the man who created it – the radiantly happy Gene Kelly, who took three curtain calls with his dancers…
“The French had been after me for several years to put on a ballet for them, but somehow nothing ever got done about it. Even as late as March I didn’t know what the plot would be, and I’ve been composing the dance steps right up to the final rehearsals. The plot was just mythology as written by me. Sort of Amphitryon in reverse. Silly but fun…The paramount problem was to teach the corps de ballet how to dance modern symphonic jazz…It’s about like an athlete learning to ski after he’s spent years training to be a boxer…It’s been a huge source of satisfaction fro me, working with these kids. I think they liked the informal atmosphere of my rehearsals…Every so often when I looked up at this ornate old building and reminded myself of what I was doing, I sort of looked up toward heaven and murmured ‘Forgive me, Diaghhilev.’”
Life Magazine August 1960
The figure loping down the austere marble stairs of the Paris Opera, looking like a sporting type who got in by mistake, is the newest addition to its ballet roster: U.S. Dancer Gene Kelly…At times this summer the scene looked right out of his American In Paris as Kelly rushed to and fro from the stage at rehearsals of his 45 minute jazz ballet Pas de Dieux. Idolized in France for his movie dancing, Kelly was signed by the Opera’s own ballet company to enliven its shopworn repertoire with his work set to Gershwin music. He does not perform himself, but his radical dance ideas drew 23 curtain calls from a fancy premiere audience of ballet regulars. Cheered one of France’s top critics: “Kelly succeeded in blowing away a half century of dust from the Paris Opera.”
Jeanine Basinger. 1976
A.M. Julien, the general administrator of the Paris Opera and Opera-Comique, commissioned Kelly to choose his own material and create a modern ballet for the company. The resulting jazz ballet, set to George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, was called Pas de Dieux.
New York Times April 1960
American dancer Gene Kelly invaded the musty confines of the Paris Opera with a leggy, sexy, modern ballet that shook the crystal chandeliers. Nothing like it had ever been seen on the stage where ballet is treated with fragile care.
Clive Hirschorn. Gene Kelly. 1974
It was received with a fifteen minute ovation and twenty-seven curtain calls. Gene was called out of the audience and onto the stage and responded to the cries of ‘auteur’ with tears and smiles. A few days later he was made a Knight of the Legion D’Honneur by Monsieur A.M. Julien, the Director-General of the Opera.