Patricia Ward Kelly: Celebrating Gene Kelly's Legacy!

Patricia Ward Kelly and Gene Kelly
On August 23rd, the world will be celebrating Gene Kelly's one-hundredth birthday. Today, I'm celebrating someone who has many reasons to celebrate, Patricia Ward Kelly.

Patricia Ward Kelly has something very much in common with Gene Kelly: The Pursuit of Excellence! She speaks at a lot of high schools and she encourages the kids she works with to do the same thing. This is not a trial run. You don’t get a chance to go back and do it again. You might as well shoot for the best. Really make a mark if it’s possible. Sometimes, you’re going to encounter people who resist that and try to knock that down and will not always be pleasant. Try to keep your eye on that goal.

A little bit about Patricia…

Film historian, PATRICIA WARD KELLY is the widow of Gene Kelly. She has worked as a writer at a film production company, as a contributing scholar for the authoritative Northwestern/Newberry Writings of Herman Melville, and as a freelance journalist. She and Kelly met at the Smithsonian in 1985, when he was the host/narrator for a television special for which she was a writer.  

Soon after, he invited her to California to write his memoirs, a job for which she recorded his words nearly every day for over ten years, and they were together until his death in 1996. Currently, she serves as Trustee of The Gene Kelly Image Trust and Creative Director of Gene Kelly: The Legacy, a corporation established to commemorate Kelly’s centenary worldwide. 
She lives in Los Angeles and is completing the book about her late husband.

Mrs. Kelly has recorded commentary for DVDs of An American in Paris, The Pirate, Words and Music, Xanadu, and is frequently called upon to introduce Gene Kelly’s films in theaters and at festivals, including the recent TCM Classic Film Festival where she spoke to audiences about Singin’ in the Rain and Cover Girl and for which she wrote the program note: “Gene Kelly: Changing the Look of Dance on Film.” She has done an in-depth, 3-hour interview about Gene Kelly for the TCM archives and will be featured in interviews with host Robert Osborne introducing Kelly films on his centenary, August 23, 2012.

She has appeared in “An Evening with Mrs. Gene Kelly” in several cities around the world, has been a panelist at the Bangkok International Film Festival and featured speaker at Cinematographer’s Day with her illustrated overview “Gene Kelly and the Revolution of Dance on Film.” In 2007, she joined musician Michael Feinstein in his “Standard Time” Carnegie Hall/ASCAP performance, providing an intimate story about the songs of Gene Kelly. More recently she has presented a one-woman show about her life with Kelly at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California and for Brandeis University. For the past 13 years she has been the keynote speaker at the annual Gene Kelly Awards held at the 2800-seat Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh. Her centennial tribute to her late husband sold out two nights at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in May 2012 and she will reprise versions of these shows at The Film Society of Lincoln Center in July. Her presence on stage has been described as “mesmerizing.”

Praise for Patricia Kelly

“I can’t say enough in praise of your magnificent performance last night. I had expected complete professionalism, but it went beyond impressive. You were articulate, poised, funny, and touching and gave all of us an evening full of unexpected gems about GK.”
 Bill Taylor, Academy Award Winning Visual Effects Specialist

“I can’t imagine a more effective— or affecting!—portrait of Gene. A memorable evening.”
 Jon Burlingame, Film Music Writer, Daily Variety

“Tonight was one of the most moving tributes I have seen. You were so heartfelt and touching in your delivery of the stories of Gene’s life and work.”
 Melissa Aggeles Vincent, Melissa Aggeles Productions

“Oh, what a magical night you gave us. Joyous, indeed, and what a lovely and accomplished hostess you are. Charming and always there with the specifics we want to know….Gene was there for us all, thanks to your stylish program….this will be a night we’ll remember time and again. Congratulations, and brava…”
 George Christy, Hollywood Columnist

“What a wonderful time we had last night….How great it was for you to come to know Gene as only a wife can know a man….and how very special of you to be willing to share this with all of us. Your remarks were charming, informative, humorous and heart warming all at the same time.”
 Walter Painter, Emmy-Award Winning Director  and Choreographer
“Last night’s celebration was a remarkable and loving tribute, so personal yet so universal. Gene’s professional contributions and innovations to the worlds of film, music and dance will certainly have an everlasting place in history, and will inspire and influence emerging artists for years to come.
 But his philosophies, his approach to life, his unbound knowledge of things well beyond the confines of show business…these things that you now share with the world…the ‘real Gene’…will keep him close to our hearts.
 Thank you so much for doing what you do, for keeping Gene vital and relevant and present. You’ve opened heaven’s portals here on Earth for us poor mortals.”
 Marilee Bradford, Producing Director at The Film Music Society

"It was a great experience watching the show you presented.  It was informative, concise and thorough, and you conveyed the genius of Gene Kelly wonderfully.  It moved like a story, and with you at the center of it, guiding us through, we all got an idea of who Gene Kelly really was."
James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Michael Nouri, Patricia
Craig Spivek, Writing and Creativity Consultation at BDPictureFILMS

I sat down to talk with Patricia last week to talk about HER life and her upcoming tribute to Gene Kelly on July 20th and 21st at The Film Society of Lincoln Center. I already have my tickets for the 20th. I hope you’ll celebrate with us! Both evenings are very unique and very personal theatrical experiences. Patricia WILL BE THERE! This is one busy lady! In addition to the New York event, Patricia is  writing liner notes for a DVD of Gene's 1958 Omnibus TV show, "Dancing, A Man's Game," which will be released in the fall at a gala celebration at The Paley Center in New York as part of Gene's centenary. She has also doing back-to-back interviews for the release of the newly-restored WB 60th Anniversary versions of Singin' in the Rain ( She heads to Washington, D.C. Jul 11-14 to speak at a screening there at the new WB Theatre at the Smithsonian.)

Because of Gene Kelly, Patricia has had the great privilege of meeting so many wonderful people. Gene had had a stroke when he received the National Medal of Arts. She went in his stead to receive that from the White House from President Clinton. It was an extraordinary and moving event. President Clinton’s remarks were spot on about Gene Kelly’s contributions to the world of dance. She became good friends with Placido  Domingo. There was a Three Tenors concert with Gene. She has been fortunate to also make many great connections with people in the dance world. Gene touched so many lives in a real breadth. Ray Bradbury, such an iconic figure in the world of literature said that Something Wicked This Way Comes was a result of seeing Gene’s film, Invitation to the Dance.   Patricia has also met Baryshnikov and many other great dancers from around the world.

To find out more about how Gene and Patricia met, you will have to go to Lincoln Center for the tribute…but here is an abbreviated version. The irony is that when she met him, she didn’t know who he was! She spent a week with him having no idea that he was famous or iconic. She was a very nerdy Herman Melville scholar. She had gone to graduate school and was editing authoritative text of his works and was managing his collection in Chicago and was very convinced that she would be one of the top Melville Scholars in the world. That was her goal. She had NO background or connection with the entertainment world on any level! She wasn’t even a movie goer. Her father was a Depression boy, both parents were from farming backgrounds in Kansas and Nebraska. Movies were a luxury. She missed the movies. As far as Gene’s movies were concerned, she was born too late. She was born in 1959 and so, obviously, she missed most of his movies when they first came out. Going to the movies just wasn’t something her family did. Videos were not around in her formative years and her family didn’t watch a lot of television. She jokingly says what turnip truck did she fall off of? In hindsight, she feels that by not knowing Gene, the man on the screen, but rather to get to know the man first was the way to go…and, THEN, to get to know the man on the screen.

Patricia has learned by trial and error. This is a very tricky industry. She is kind of on the periphery of it in a sense. She is not an actress. She is not really mixed in the business. She enjoys the events and meeting the people involved. What she has learned is that there are very few people you can really trust completely. What she does is wait and watch. Watch for consistency. She has really been fortunate in the past few years to meet some extraordinary people who have stellar reputations in the industry. Many have been very kind and you stick with those. If you have a hand full of people who are the reliable go to people, it makes a huge difference. 
 Roddy McDowall summed up Patricia’s life upon meeting Gene Kelly perfectly. He compared her to Alice
Stanley Donen with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly
falling down the rabbit hole.
 She meets people constantly who have every goal to get to Hollywood to meet a Hollywood star AND marry a Hollywood star. With Patricia, it never really even crossed her mind! She had no sense of any of that. She had gone to a wonderful liberal arts college. She grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. The college she went to was the first college to have the “block plan.”
 You took only one course at a time and you studied intently for three and a half weeks. Then you had four days off. You could go to Mexico or Canada or just get away. You just had complete freedom because there was no homework in that period.

 You just did something creative. The great thing was that you were not confined to a classroom. You had only one course, so you could go anywhere. A botany course, for example, was up in the mountains so that you could really work with the plants. Her Melville Course took her to Chicago and the Melville Collection at the Newberry Library. A small group of them went. The classes were very small. It was the ideal liberal arts education. You just had a very personal intensive study. That was good for her. That’s how she learns best. She got the “Melville bug.” When she finished her course, she desired to go back to Chicago and to begin to edit his works for the authoritative Newberry editions. She became a contributing scholar there. She had a great Melville professor there who told her to never trust the printed word. Particularly now with the influx of errors and inaccuracies on the internet with material that is just taken at face value, this was a good preparation for the work she did for Melville. It was also good for the work she also did with Gene. You can’t just take it for granted. You used to open a book and say, “It’s in print. It must be true.” What you learn very quickly is that very little of it is accurate. Particularly now, people are not going back to primary sources. Especially in relation to Gene, it’s a huge mess. There is so much out there that is not accurate on his life and career. 
 After leaving Chicago, Patricia went to the University of Virginia to study American literature. She got hired out of there to write documentaries for PBS in DC. Gene ended up becoming a host/narrator for one of those projects. That’s where they met and that’s when she didn’t know who he was. He ultimately took Patricia to Hollywood to write his memoirs. He had had several people that publishers sent out and nobody could get a story out of him. He liked what Patricia did in Washington and thought that she would be a good person to work with him. She was only supposed to work with him a few weeks. They got married five years into it. She says neither of them ever dreamed this would happen to them.
 They had an extraordinary decade of a relationship. Gene always talked about happenstance. Patricia says this was a grand happenstance. Before Gene died, he appointed Patricia as the sole person for his legacy to manage his voice and likeness.
  A lot of that involves unpleasant police work. She spends a lot of time chasing down infringement. Right now, she is seeking out more creative ways to celebrate him and not focus so much on the people who are basically taking his image. What she did in Chicago and the precision of being an archivist there of checking and double checking really prepared her in the work she would be doing with Gene. He was very good and had a strong memory. What she has been doing since he died is going back to the primary sources like the Arthur Freed Collection at USC which is superb. Reading all the production notes and comparing those with detailed records against Gene’s memory.

  Generally, he was spot on. If he was slightly off, that was fine, and she pointed that out. She interviewed as many people as she could find, particularly the workers on the films.They tended to be very accurate, sound editors and musicians, cinematographers, and camera operators. They have great recall and it is unadulterated and straightforward. What is interesting with Gene is that as their relationship evolved over the decade, and as trust in Patricia evolved, he began to let down his guard that he had built up around him and he began to reveal himself more not only to Patricia but to himself as well in ways that he had not before. He had never been forced to analyze some things. It was a tremendous process of revelation and evolution. They both sort of evolved over the decade and Patricia was very proud of him. Some that reach that iconic status never take the time and reflect back in a way he did.  She says she was like a gadfly poking him all the time. “Yesterday, you said this was the saddest moment of your life and today you’re saying this is.”

Anchor's Aweigh
There are a lot of choreographers whose work Patricia has come to admire since Gene’s death. Some have been inspired by Gene. Some Patricia doesn’t know. You say Gene Kelly and there are some in the choreography and/or dance world who will respond. It’s really interesting to watch the breadth of his influence. John Neumeier at The Hamburg Ballet was heavily influenced by Gene and has spoken about the fact that Gene Kelly’s choreography, the dance, furthers the story. That resonated with Neumeier and he has implemented that in his work. Lar Lubovitch was definitely influenced by Gene. He actually did an homage to one of Gene’s pieces. Helgi Tomasson at The San Francisco Ballet. It goes on and on.

The life lesson that Patricia learned from Gene is be on time. It is the profound professionalism that goes with that. You show up on time. You know your lines. You don’t let your compatriots down. You do your job the best possible way. It works in whatever field you’re in, whether you’re on the stage or not. Before you had to be at an airport two hours in advance long before this security thing, he was already doing that. Patricia was, “Oh, come on, Gene!” He was not among those people who were just rushing to the airport and getting on a plane at the last minute. She thought it was a bit much. As she got older and wiser, she realized he was really smart. He was absolutely right. No matter what came up, if there was an accident on the freeway for example, he was still at the airport on time. He didn’t have all the extra anxiety. Now, when she shows up for an appointment in Los Angeles, she’s on time. Usually, she’s a few minutes early. People are often stunned because nobody shows up on time in LA. Because of cell phones, people often think they can just call and say they’re running late. By being on time, Gene always showed respect for his co-workers. It may seem like a small thing but it really resonates beyond the clock. He was such a stickler for it that when he had a special appearance, he would go the next night to check the timing of the drive, the route, the parking, to see if there was a shortcut they could take. They would do dry runs for almost everything, and again, you think “who has the time to do that?” And yet, it always helped. You know right where to go, you don’t screw up. You don’t go stumbling in late. These are things she is now telling kids in high school. People get very lax about this.

Patricia is most proud that Gene entrusted her with his legacy. He didn’t have to. He could have turned that over to anybody in the world. The fact that he chose Patricia as the person as the trustee of his name, voice, likeness, signature AND the person he entrusted with his story. To convey this to the world is a real privilege. As their relationship grew, he trusted her more and more and began to trust himself more by releasing this information. He knew that Patricia would do what he wanted done. He was very specific with everything, how he wished to be remembered, even how he wanted to die.  

Patricia was twenty-six when she met Gene. She sees a lot of kids now trying to program their lives. She tries to tell them, “You may be set on a course as I was, being a Melville scholar, getting my PhD, and to continue to edit his manuscripts. I loved that and never dreamed that I would get off that path. It is important to have goals and determination. But also allow those courses to change.” When Gene asked her to go out to Hollywood to write her memoirs, she called her mom to tell her. Her mom asked her what she was going to do. She told her mother she was going. You need to be prepared to reverse courses. Accept change. Accept the uncertainty. Memorize poetry. You’ll never know how that will turn out. It was certainly a benefit in her meeting Gene. Their connection initially was over language and words. Both he and she were very fond of poetry and had memorized favorite poetry in their lives and was a contributing factor in bringing them together.

I asked Patricia how she is reaching audiences in this electronic age. She says she does need improvement in that area. She is trying to take herself out of the “Neanderthal status”.  Facebook, which she resisted initially, has become a fantastic tool for staying connected and alerting people to what’s coming up. It is limited somewhat in the fact that it is for your “friends” or associates. It has been a great way for her to stay in touch with high school kids that have won the Gene Kelly Awards. As they have gone into college, she has been able to follow their careers. She has a blog that she is waiting to launch. She feels that that is probably the best way to get her voice out there. As she continues on the book, the blog will be a great way to share information with people on a larger scale than Facebook. She does have a Twitter account but does not use it that much. She is often asked to forward things, especially negative reviews. She doesn’t do it. She will only put out positive things. It is so hard to put on operas and ballets and theater. Funds are low. Taking someone’s work down now is so unfair. If there is a great review, she will post that. She encourages people to get out and see live entertainment even when you think you might not like it completely. She set up The Gene Kelly Legacy, Inc just for the centennial. They are looking forward to launching things on the website. and The goal is for those to be very interactive so that people around the world can participate, not only in the centennial, but more ongoing like the legacy itself. She is now working with various companies and internet companies to see how she can best get those launched. She is learning and wishes she had all the capabilities to get this message out. People are interested. It is just a matter of the best way to get the information to them.

Gene Kelly was very specific about not needing a one hundredth birthday celebration. When he turned eighty, he rolled his eyes at even celebrating that. Patricia knew that his one hundredth was going to be celebrated and that people were going to be doing things around that around the world. He wanted to be remembered for changing the look of dance on film. Patricia felt that she needed to jump into the fray a bit and at least get out what he wanted. To give credit about what he created to the world. There are so many errors, what he called “eratta” in books. And now with the internet, it is just growing profoundly. Patricia feels that this is a good time to step in and guide people. Most people want to set the record straight, but they don’t have the means to. 
They don’t have the right information. This has also been a fun thing for Patricia by getting out and meeting more people and hearing their stories and how they were touched by him. She states that it is not Gene Kelly, dead at one hundred. It is Gene Kelly, cool and relevant and continuing to inspire people and that is the message she has been promoting. She doesn’t want to look at these events as “retrospectives”. She desires it to be forward thinking. How can we touch more young people? We are not only looking at Gene’s style and dance and choreography and directing, but Gene as also a renaissance man…the value in learning multiple languages, history, politics, and art. Gene shows value in pursuing excellence and the supreme dedication to your craft. He is such a tremendous example for young people. Boys can learn that it is ok to be masculine and graceful. If all of this just gets people to stop and think, “Wow! That guy was cool”, Patricia would like to take that and go beyond. People would often go out and try and recreate his numbers. That was not that interesting to him. What he really looked for was people who said, “This is great but I’m going to expand upon that.” It’s fun to see this being carried forward through hip hop and body popping and other forms of movement that he would appreciate. At the time of his life, he wasn’t able to do those things.

He dealt with fame with great humility. You don’t always read that from other people. Someone once said to Patricia, “You know, he was known as the supreme egotist.” That is not what she witnessed. He realized that it was sort of a Faustian bargain, that if you’re going to be famous, there’s a payoff. You lose any sense of privacy. Now, with the invasion of the cell phone camera and recording devices, it would be very difficult now. It was difficult twenty years ago. They would be mobbed going into a restaurant. You were hounded but you didn’t have someone sitting at the next table recording your conversation. Particularly at the end of his life, to preserve his dignity and confidentiality was very hard. They had people going into the hospital from the tabloids dressing up as priests and taking pictures. He would have liked to have walked down the street without a tour bus following him or chasing them. They would dodge behind trees to keep from being hounded. He would have enjoyed not having that. That was one of the reasons he asked not to have his ashes placed anywhere. He wrote out and notarized specific instructions. He asked to be cremated but didn’t want to be placed anywhere. He was tired of being on a tour bus route. She even went to a mortuary and asked what they would do with him if he was on the grounds. They said he would be in the rose garden and part of the tour bus line! When she presented that to Gene he said, “I don’t want that at all.” Patricia respected that and some people found it kind of odd, but she just did what he desired. He knew that his fame was related to people buying tickets. She never saw him being rude to people. He would sign autographs. He would try to cut it off if he was at someone else’s show. He would never want to hold up someone else’s performance. He would say something like, “That’s enough, fellas”, and move inside. Patricia always saw graciousness with it. He knew also that there was an exchange. He got good tickets to events. You also had people coming by your table when you were having dinner.

She witnessed firsthand the intense dedication to whatever he was doing. Just to accept an award, every detail mattered. Although she didn’t witness the rehearsal preparation for the great films he made, she could imagine by watching him in the last decade of his life. He didn’t miss a beat. He was such a pro. He made sure that everything was taken care of. He was not going to show up without his lines, without extreme preparation. What the public saw was the presentation, Patricia was lucky enough to see what led up to that. It always appeared as if he just got up and thanked people with the perfect words at the last minute. He did whatever it took to hit his marks either in dance or in a speech or an acceptance of an award.

Unfortunately, Gene lost many things in a fire in 1983. But, fortunately, photographs, manuscripts and letters survived, and Patricia is working to catalogue the collection and protect the items in archival sleeves. Frank Sinatra had bought their two sailor suits from On The Town. He sent Gene’s to him with the note, “I hope yours fits you better than mine does me.” That is now gone. She does have some of his caps and his Converse tennis shoes that he wore when he directed Hello, Dolly! His dancing shoes, unfortunately, also went up in the fire. He had a few hats from The Three Musketeers, also gone. She has some pieces with his name in the back from Western Costume. But not a lot. Most items went in the big MGM auction in 1974. Many are now in private collections.

This question is from Myles Savage of the Platters: Have you shared any love today?
Having three dogs, the answer is YES! Lucia the yellow lab is twelve. Chooch the Vizsla/lab rescue is a sixteen plus and little Francesco is another Vizsla/lab rescue who just turned one. There is a lot of love there.

A kid once asked Patricia what she liked most about falling in love with Gene Kelly. She answered, “Falling in love with Gene Kelly.” Sitting on the couch with him after dinner hearing him sing. He would often sing songs to color different parts of his life. It would not be the whole song but phrases. Songs often conveyed what he was feeling. She got a whole education in popular song from him. She didn’t have an exposure to Berlin, Porter, Gershwin prior to Gene. He knew the songs, the lyrics, the verses. He knew how beautiful they were and how great the lyrics were. If it was raining, he would sing, “What do we do on a dew, dew, dewy day?”
It was just phrases. She would go back and look at the whole song. It was a way of describing their relationship or what just transpired. Everything was relayed in such a compact way. Then there was the poetry. He quoted poetry and lines from William Saroyan’s plays. He saw their relationship through those words. People often ask Patricia if he was romantic. She says he was the epitome of romance. It wasn’t a buy a diamond ring or other kinds of stuff kind of way. He would make funny valentines and put them around the house. They would include funny little notes and funny little cartoons. Still finding those and unpacking them and seeing them again, Patricia just goes “Wow!” Those little moments she wishes he was still around.    

I am so looking forward to seeing Gene Kelly on the screen again on July 20th at The Film Society of Lincoln Center. I am even more so looking forward to meeting Patricia Ward Kelly in person! I hope all that read this will join me! 

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces
 July 13-26, 2012



New York, NY, June 22, 2012 –The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced details today for the upcoming film series, INVITATION TO THE DANCE: GENE KELLY @ 100 (July 13-26). Celebrating the Kelly centenary, a 23-film salute will be presented that encompasses Kelly’s best-known classics as well as rarely screened gems showcasing his work as a director, dancer, choreographer and dramatic actor. (NOTE: Due to a studio-imposed moratorium, we regret that we are unable to include SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN in this series.) Screenings are at the Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street), and will be highlighted by the attendance of Kelly’s widow, film historian Patricia Ward Kelly, who will present two special evenings sharing film clips, recordings and stories about her late husband.

“Far more than almost any of his contemporaries, Gene Kelly recognized cinema's vast potential as an artistic medium. Never satisfied to rest on his laurels, his work is a record of a true artist constantly striving to push himself and the medium into new areas of expression. We're delighted to present this major celebration of this extraordinary actor-dancer-choreographer and director,” says FSLC Program Director Richard Peña, who programmed this series with Associate Director of Programming Scott Foundas.

“Gene was a man of many dimensions. I am looking forward to sharing these different aspects of the man and the creator with the Film Society audiences,” says Kelly’s widow, film historian Patricia Ward Kelly.

An innovator in choreographing for the camera and in defining a particularly American style, Gene Kelly revolutionized the look of dance on film, while starring in some of the most beloved Hollywood musicals of all time. Born in 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, young Kelly never dreamed of being a dancer.  Only later would he develop his unique style, blending athleticism and classical ballet and other forms of dance. Making his way to Broadway in the late 1930s, he performed in supporting roles until his big break in PAL JOEY made him an overnight sensation. Drawn to Hollywood by David O. Selznick, he later signed with MGM.  High profile appearances in ANCHORS AWEIGH (for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 1946) and COVER GIRL established Kelly as an innovative dancer and choreographer on the silver screen. He also co-directed and directed a number of films, including ON THE TOWN, the 17-minute ballet in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, INVITATION TO THE DANCE, GIGOT, HELLO, DOLLY! and THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB. In 1952 he was awarded an honorary Oscar “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” His final feature film appearance was with co-star Olivia Newton-John in the 1980 cult classic XANADU. He died in 1996.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center thanks the following for making this series possible: Academy Film Archive/May Haduong, Patricia Ward Kelly, Sony Pictures Repertory/Christopher Lane, Swank Motion Pictures, 20th Century Fox/Caitlin Robertson, Warner Brothers/Ned Price and Marilee Womack.

Take advantage of a special discount Gene Kelly ticket package and create your own double feature! Select any two films in the series for just $20 for general public and $15 for members, students, and seniors. Single screening tickets are $13 for general public, $9 for students and seniors, and $8 for members.
All screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway.
Additional information on the series can be found at

Films, Descriptions and Schedule

Special Event!
Robert Osborne and Patricia Ward Kelly
Kelly’s widow, film historian Patricia Ward Kelly, takes us behind the scenes with an intimate portrait of the man who helped create some of the most memorable scenes in film history. Combining film clips and rare recordings, along with stories culled from hours of interviews, Mrs. Kelly will share a very personal side of her late husband and his perspective on the work for which he wished to be remembered.
FRI. JULY 20, 7:00PM

Special Event!
with Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl
Though known for his iconic performances on screen, Gene Kelly preferred to be remembered for his role in changing the look of dance on film. Inspired to find new ways to use the camera to capture dance, he studied the “one-eyed monster” (as he called it) and the challenges of transforming a three-dimensional art form into a two-dimensional medium. This special evening, presented by Patricia Ward Kelly and based upon conversations with her late husband, will explore Kelly’s contribution in creating a particularly American dance form and his innovations in the use of cinematography, choreography and animation.
SAT. JULY 21, 6:00PM

Vincente Minnelli, 1951, USA, DCP; 115m
American painter Kelly falls in love with French girl Leslie Caron and must find a way to break off with his rich, older benefactress (Nina Foch) in this splendid Gershwin musical culminating in a legendary, Kelly-directed and choreographed, 17-minute ballet.
SUN. JULY 15, 6:15PM
TUES. JULY 17, 3:45PM

George Sidney, 1945, USA, 35mm; 143m
On leave, ladies man Kelly (in an Oscar-nominated performance) takes fellow sailor Frank Sinatra to Hollywood, where he promises to introduce him to a passel of sexy starlets. Featuring Kelly’s famous dance with MGM's animated mouse, Jerry!
SAT. JULY 14, 6:00PM
WED. JULY 25, 3:15PM

Vincente Minnelli, 1954, USA, 35mm; 108m
A charming CinemaScope musical set in Scotland, shot in an MGM studio, choreographed by Kelly, and adapted from the Lerner & Loewe Broadway hit about an enchanted 18th-century village that reawakens annually for only one day.
SAT. JULY 21, 2:15PM
TUE. JULY 24, 3:30PM

Charles Vidor, 1944, USA, 35mm; 107m
Kelly hit it big when MGM loaned him out for this splashy Columbia musical about a chorus girl (Rita Hayworth) whose stardom as a magazine cover model puts a strain on her relationship with the nice-guy club owner (Kelly) who gave her her break.
FRI. JULY 13, 4:00PM
SAT. JULY 14, 8:45PM

Tay Garnett, 1943, USA, 35mm; 90m
A group of captured French soldiers (including Kelly, Hume Cronyn and Cedric Hardwicke) tough it out in a Nazi POW camp run by the sadistic Peter Lorre in this powerful and surprisingly violent WWII programmer. Not available on DVD.
THU. JULY 19, 1:30PM

Busby Berkeley, 1942, USA, 35mm; 104m
Kelly made his screen debut alongside Judy Garland (in her first adult role) in this rousing celebration of vaudeville and USO troupers, cited by legendary director-choreographer Berkeley as his favorite film.
SUN. JULY 15, 1:30PM
WED. JULY 18, 3:15PM

Gene Kelly, 1962, USA, 35mm; 104m
Kelly directed the great Jackie Gleason in a Golden Globe-nominated performance as a mute, downtrodden Frenchman who finds a new sense of purpose when he comes to care for a Montmartre prostitute and her adorable young daughter. Not available on DVD.
WED. JULY 25, 6:15pm

Gene Kelly, 1967, USA, 35mm; 89m
Robert Morse gives neurotic co-worker Walter Matthau pointers on the delicate art of infidelity in this all-star ‘60s romp featuring cameos by Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Jayne Mansfield and dozens more!
WED. JULY 25, 8:30PM

Restored 70mm print
Gene Kelly, 1969, USA, 70mm; 146m
The reported off-screen tensions between co-stars Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau are scarcely evident in Kelly’s lavish screen version of the Broadway smash--one of the last of the big studio musicals. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture.
SUN. JULY 22, 2:30PM

Stanley Kramer, 1960, USA, 35mm; 128m
Kelly is a Baltimore journalist (modeled on H.L. Mencken) covering the trial of a Southern schoolteacher accused of teaching Evolution in Kramer’s celebrated film based on the controversial 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
THU. JULY 26, 6:00PM

Gene Kelly, 1956, USA, 35mm; 93m
Kelly's dream was to make a film narrative told entirely through dance and pantomime. He succeeded with this radically innovative film that tells three different stories through three styles of performance.
SAT. JULY 14, 4:00PM
FRI. JULY 20, 4:30PM

Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1955, USA, 35mm; 101m
Kelly’s final collaboration with Stanley Donen was this conceptual sequel to ON THE TOWN, with Kelly, Dan Dailey and choreographer Michael Kidd as three WWII vets who reunite in New York a decade after the end of the war.
FRI. JULY 13, 8:30PM

George Cukor, 1957, USA, 35mm; 114m
Hailed by Andrew Sarris as a musical RASHOMON, Cukor’s glorious CinemaScope bauble stars Kelly as a dance troupe impresario who gives one of three differing accounts when one of his dancers accuses another of libeling her in a tell-all memoir. Songs by Cole Porter.
MON. JULY 16, 8:30PM

Irving Rapper, 1958, USA, 35mm; 128m
In the screen version of Herman Wouk’s runaway bestseller, Natalie Wood is the titular aspiring actress coming of age on the Upper West Side and falling in and out of love with the older playwright Noel Airman (Kelly).
MON. JULY 23, 6:00PM

Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1949, USA, 35mm; 98m
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down in this first directorial collaboration between Kelly and Stanley Donen, notable for its extensive location filming, stunning use of modern dance techniques, and seamless integration of musical numbers.
FRI.JULY 13, 6:15PM
MON. JULY 16, 4:00PM
Vincente Minnelli, 1948, USA, 35mm; 102m
Pretty Caribbean islander Judy Garland dreams up a famous pirate, and an actor on tour (Gene Kelly) pretends to be the notorious buccaneer in this sumptuously costumed and choreographed circus of Cole Porter numbers based on an S.N. Behrman play.
SUN. JULY 15, 8:30PM

Charles Walters, 1950, USA, 35mm; 108m
Perhaps the most entertaining of all the “show in a barn” motion pictures, SUMMER STOCK reunited Kelly and Judy Garland under the sparkling direction of Charles Walters. Featuring Kelly’s “squeaky board/newspaper” dance and Judy singing “Get Happy.”
SUN. JULY 22, 6:00PM
THU. JULY 26, 3:45PM

Busby Berkeley, 1949, USA, 35mm; 93m
Kelly and Frank Sinatra are baseball players who work off-season as song-and-dance men and fall hard for the team’s new owner (Esther Williams) in this wildly popular Busby Berkeley musical (featuring choreography by Kelly and Stanley Donen).

SAT. JULY 21, 4:30PM
George Sidney, 1943, USA, 35mm; 125m
Acrobatic Army private Kelly falls for the colonel’s comely daughter (Kathryn Grayson) in this gorgeously mounted romance cum MGM revue, featuring numbers by Judy Garland, Eleanor Powell, Lena Horne and more!
SUN. JULY 15, 3:45PM

George Sidney, 1948, USA, 35mm; 125m
Kelly is D’Artagnan opposite Van Heflin’s Athos, Vincent Price’s Richelieu, Angela Lansbury’s Queen Anne and Lana Turner’s Lady de Winter in director Sidney’s rousing version of the Dumas swashbuckler.

SAT. JULY 14, 1:30PM
J. Lee Thompson, 1964, USA, 35mm; 111m
Hopeless romantic Shirley MacLaine marries poor men out of love (including small-town dancer Kelly), but keeps ending up a rich widow in this big-budget superproduction from SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN writers Comden and green. Co-starring  Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Dean Martin and Dick Van Dyke.

MON. JULY 23, 8:30PM
Robert Greenwald, 1980, USA, 35mm; 93m
Disco meets ‘40s swing in this cult classic featuring Kelly (in his final feature film appearance) as a former big-band sideman who teams with a lovesick young artist and a beautiful Olympian muse (Olivia Newton-John) to turn a decaying theater into a vibrant nightclub.
SAT. JULY 21, 9:00PM

THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (Les demoiselles de Rochefort)
Jacques Demy, 1967, France, 35mm; 120m
Real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac are twins who pine for life beyond the limits of their small seaside town, with Kelly as the successful American pianist who might get them there, in director Demy’s spectacular valentine to the Hollywood musical tradition.
SUN. JULY 22, 8:15PM
THU. JULY 26, 8:30PM

Public Screening Schedule

Screening Venue:
The Film Society of Lincoln Center – Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65 Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam (upper level)

4:00PM          COVER GIRL, 107m
6:15PM          ON THE TOWN, 98m
8:30PM          IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, 101m

1:30PM          THE THREE MUSKETEERS, 125m
4:00PM          INVITATION TO THE DANCE, 93m
6:00PM          ANCHORS AWEIGH, 143m
8:45PM          COVER GIRL, 107m

1:30PM          FOR ME AND MY GAL, 104m
3:45PM          THOUSANDS CHEER, 125m
6:15PM          AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, 113m
8:30PM          THE PIRATE, 102m

4:00PM          ON THE TOWN, 98m
8:30PM          LES GIRLS, 114m

3:45PM          AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, 113m

3:15PM          FOR ME AND MY GAL, 104m

1:30PM          THE CROSS OF LORRAINE, 90m

7:00PM          AN EVENING OF GENE KELLY (with Patricia Ward Kelly), 150m

2:15PM          BRIGADOON, 108m
4:30PM          TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME, 93m
9:00PM          XANADU, 93m

2:30PM          HELLO, DOLLY! 146m + 10m Intermission
6:00PM          SUMMER STOCK, 108m

6:00PM          MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, 128m
8:30PM          WHAT A WAY TO GO, 111m

3:30PM          BRIGADOON, 108m

3:15PM          ANCHORS AWEIGH, 143m
6:15PM          GIGOT, 104m
8:30PM          A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN, 89m

3:45PM          SUMMER STOCK, 108m
6:00PM          INHERIT THE WIND, 128m

Film Society of Lincoln Center
Under the leadership of Rose Kuo, Executive Director, and Richard Peña, Program Director, the Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema. The Film Society presents two film festivals that attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, currently planning its 50th edition, and New Directors/New Films which, since its founding in 1972, has been produced in collaboration with MoMA. The Film Society also publishes the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, and for over three decades has given an annual award—now named “The Chaplin Award”—to a major figure in world cinema. Past recipients of this award include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks. The Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming, panels, lectures, educational programs and specialty film releases at its Walter Reade Theater and the new state-of-the-art Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stella Artois, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit and follow #filmlinc on Twitter.
For Media specific inquiries, please contact:
John Wildman

David Ninh

Thank you to Patricia Ward Kelly AND Gene Kelly for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!
I want this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

Do you have any pics?
If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
My next blog will be...Carla DelVillaggio as Barbra Streisand!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,                            

This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!


  1. Thoroughly wonderful blog. We'll always marvel at Gene's exuberant genius, and Patricia is brilliant in her own right. Thank you both, Patricia and Richard, for honoring Gene's terms about perpetuating his legacy. The magic and energy emanating from the images alone are not lost to time. Here's to eternal and enduring love, companionship, talents, creativity and vision. This is a better world and life because of all of you and all that you do. Your blogs, Richard, comprise a loving, inspiring, authentic clearinghouse and touchstone of enlightenment, education, engagement, entertainment and enchantment...and seemingly done with compassionate ease. Gratefully, Alan (Alan K. Choy;

  2. This is the best interview about Gene and Patricia I've ever read. It is revealing and engaging as to tidbits about his life in movies and as to their life together. She clears up so many nagging inaccuracies that are lingering on the web. These things have festered into their own life over the years since Gene's death. Patricia must be itching to get the website up and running as well as a definitive book about Gene out for all of his fans to read. He was such an inspiring performer and person. As hard as people might look for dirt on Gene, there simply isn't anything. He was a consummate professional, husband and father. He was a man's man and his memory and archives will live on forever. Go get um Patricia.

  3. Pat, this is Jennifer Paa Waldron please friend me if you would like to touch base (I would)


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