A Sailor's Story: Lieutenant Eugene "Gene" Kelly

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

Instead, Lieutenant Gene 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, the University of Pennsylvania, in 1931, graduating in 1933 with a degree in economics. After graduation, he opened a dance studio and committed to a career in dancing.

Lieutenant Gene 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 favorite movie genre before enlisting in U.S. Navy during World War II. He was assigned to the photographic section in D.C., where he wrote and directed documentaries for the government. Lieutenant Gene Kelly also worked to establish entertainment programs for wounded service members. However, Lieutenant Eugene Kelly was disappointed at not being assigned overseas.

Lieutenant Gene 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 most significant legacy in Hollywood was to prove that you could be a regular guy and that it is ok to dance.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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