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Gene Kelly’s life and career timeline

A staple of American song and dance, Gene Kelly captivated the American public with dazzling and innovative choreography in musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain”, “An American in Paris”, and “On the Town.” His extensive and illustrious dance portfolio earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award and Kennedy Center Honors. Learn more about the man behind the moves in the timeline below.

 

1912

Eugene Curran Kelly is born on August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, PA, the third of five children.

1912
1930

Kelly starts "Gene Kelly Studio of Dance", with one studio in Pittsburgh and one in Johnstown.

1930
1933

Kelly graduates from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in economics.

1933
1938

First Broadway job as a dancer in "Leave It to Me." This is also Mary Martins' debut.

1938
1941

Marries Betsy Blair, a dancer Kelly met while choreographing Billy Rose's "Diamond Horseshoe."

1941
1942

Hollywood debut in "For Me and My Gal" with Judy Garland.

1942
1944

Teams with Rita Hayworth in "Cover Girl" which includes a sequence of Kelly dancing with a superimposed image of himself.

1944
1945

"Anchors Aweigh" earns Kelly a nomination for Best Actor. It is Kelly's first performance with Frank Sinatra, whom he teaches to dance.

1945
1945

Joins the Navy and eventually earns the rank of Lieutenant, working in the photographic division of the Naval Air Force.

1945
1946

Teams up with Fred Astaire for the "Babbitt and the Bromide" dance sequence in the "Ziegfeld Follies."

1946
1949

"On the Town" earns Kelly and Stanley Donen their directorial stripes.

1949
1951

"An American in Paris" wins seven Oscars including Best Picture and a special Oscar highlighting Kelly's work in the film.

1951
1952

Co-directs and stars in "Singing in the Rain" which has since become one of America's most popular musicals.

1952
1955

"It's Always Fair Weather" marks the last film co-directed with Donen.

1955
1957

Divorces Betsy, wife of fifteen years.

1957
1957

"Les Girls" is Kelly's last starring musical.

1957
1960

Marries Jeannie Coyne, longtime dance assistant and former pupil.

1960
1974

Hosts "That's Entertainment!", a compilation film of MGM studio's greatest musical moments.

1974
1976

Shares co-hosting duties of "That's Entertainment, Part 2" with Fred Astaire.

1976
1982

Receives the Kennedy Center Honors.

1982
1985

Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.

1985
1996

Dies at home on February 2 after a series of strokes.

1996
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