A Sailor's Story: Lieutenant Eugene (Gene) Kelly - WWII Veteran

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Lieutenant Eugene (Gene) Kelly graphic
Eugene Curran Kelly was born on August 23, 1912, in the East Liberty neighboorhood of Pittsburg, Pennslyvania. While young, his mother had enrolled both he and his brother in dance lessons, but, those were quickly canceled because they kept getting into fights with other boys about the lessons.

Instead, Lieutenant Kelly focused on becoming a Pittsburg Pirate, playing baseball through high school. He briefly attended Pennsylvania State University, but, dropped out after the 1929 stock market crash to help support his family by performing dance routines with his brother at local clubs and talent shows.  He returned to college, University of Pennsylvania, in 1931, graduating in 1933 with a degree in economics and after graduation, opened a dance studio and committed to a career in dancing.

Lieutenant Kelly made his debut on Broadway in 1938, and after finding success on stage, was lured to Hollywood by David O. Selznick.  He was in Hollywood long enough to firmly establish "The Musical" as a popular movie genre before enlisting in US Navy during WWII.  He was assigned to the photographic section in D.C. where he wrote and directed documentaries for the government.  Lieutenant Kelly also worked to establish entertainment programs for wounded service members.  Lieutenant Kelly was said to be disappointed at not being assigned overseas.

Lieutenant Kelly returned to Hollywood in 1946, continuing his stellar career which produced the well-known classic, "Singing in the Rain"  He worked right up until his death on February 2. 1996.

His biggest legacy in Hollywood was to prove that you could be a regular guy and it is ok to dance.

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