1. He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, and the likeable characters that he played on screen.
2. Best known today for his performances in films such as An American in Paris , he was a dominant force in musical films until they fell out of fashion in the late 1950s.
3. His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences. Kelly received an Academy Honorary Award in 1952 for his career achievements.
4. He later received lifetime achievement awards in the Kennedy Center Honors , and from the Screen Actors Guild and American Film Institute.
5. In 1999, the American Film Institute also numbered him 15th in their Greatest Male Stars of Classic Hollywood cinema list.
6. He was the third son of James Patrick Joseph Kelly, a phonograph salesman, and his wife Harriet Catherine Curran. His father was born in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Irish Canadian family.
7. By the time he decided to dance, he was an accomplished sportsman and able to defend himself.
8. He attended St. Raphael Elementary School in the Morningside neighborhood of Pittsburgh and graduated from Peabody High School at age sixteen.
9. He entered Pennsylvania State College as a journalism major, but the 1929 crash forced him to work to help his family.
10. He created dance routines with his younger brother Fred to earn prize money in local talent contests.
11. In 1931 Kelly enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to study economics, joining the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. After graduating in 1933, he continued to be active with the Cap and Gown Club, serving as the director from 1934 to 1938.
12. In 1932 they renamed it The Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance.
13. In 1931 he was approached by the Rodef Shalom synagogue in Pittsburgh to teach dance, and to stage the annual Kermess.
14. This venture was successful enough that they retained his services for seven years, until he departed for New York.
15. Kelly eventually decided to pursue a career as a dance teacher and full-time entertainer, so he dropped out of law school after two months.
16. After a fruitless search for work in New York, Kelly returned to Pittsburgh to his first position as a choreographer with the Charles Gaynor musical revue Hold Your Hats at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in April 1938.