I’ve said it many times before. In addition to not having to have a real job, television has given me the opportunity to talk with a lot of people I would never get the chance to talk with in real life.
Case in point. This week on WDAZ News @5 we got to chat with Patricia Ward Kelly. She is a film historian, biographer and widow of the late Gene Kelly, the wonderful dancer whose films like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris” are nothing short of unforgettable.
Patricia is writing a book about her husband. She also presents a live show called “An Evening with Mrs. Gene Kelly” around the country. (I’d love to see it at the Empire or the Fritz.)
On television, we talked a little bit about “Hello Dolly!” I’d forgotten that, later in his life, Gene Kelly directed the movie musical which starred Barbra Streisand and Walter Mathau. It also introduced a newcomer by the name of Michael Crawford. It’s being released on Blu-Ray this week.
Of all the really great singer/dancers in the golden era of MGM, like Fred Astaire and Donald O’Connor, Gene Kelly has always been my favorite. Whether he was dancing in the rain, with a cartoon mouse or a coat rack, I always thought he was the most innovative and athletic. He was amazing!
But Patricia told me something I would never have suspected. Gene Kelly never really wanted to be a performer. He wanted to choreograph, direct and create. I’m glad he got to do all of those things. But I’m also glad we have his performances on film. I’ve watched them over and over. I never get tired of them. They will live forever.