See Gene Kelly Like Never Before, Through His Wife’s Eyes

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Gene Kelly’s widow Patricia Ward Kelly offers a glimpse into the private life of her famously gifted husband Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. at Carpenter Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal State Long Beach.

Gene Kelly garnered legions of fans for his dancing, acting, singing, directing and choreography in hits like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris.” In “Gene Kelly: The Legacy,” Mrs. Kelly uses both rare and famous film clips, unreleased audio clips and personal memorabilia from her late husband’s life to bring audiences a rare glimpse into the life of the real Gene Kelly.

Mrs. Kelly, who appeared Monday on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” met her future husband in 1985 while they both worked on a television documentary together. They married in 1990. For the 10 years leading to his 1996 death, Mrs. Kelly captured his stories and opinions on tape and written notes.

“Many people know and love the person they see up on the screen, but few know the many dimensions of the man and his work,” Mrs. Kelly said. “They do not know that he was fluent in French, was a Shabbos goy who spoke Yiddish, studied economics, memorized and wrote poetry, frequently read a book a day, did The New York Times crossword puzzle in ink. That’s one of the things that is most rewarding for me about doing the show—sharing the little layers that make Gene come to life for people in new and interesting ways. Gene was very guarded and revealed little about him in interviews. That he let down his guard and entrusted me with his story was a great privilege.”

Gene Kelly: The Legacy is part of the Sunday Afternoon Concert Series. Other series performances include the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra and Allan Harris. Single tickets for The Legacy start at $38, and subscriptions to all three remaining Sunday Afternoon Concert Series events are $74.25. For tickets and more information, visit or call the Carpenter Center Ticket Office at (562) 985-7000. This series is made possible in part by Season Media Partner KPCC 89.3-FM.


Biographer and film historian Patricia Ward Kelly 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 10 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 theatres 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, three-hour interview about Gene Kelly for the TCM archives and served as co-host with Robert Osborne introducing four Kelly films on his centenary, Aug. 23, 2012. On July 13, she joined Oscar winner Rita Moreno in a lively “conversation” onstage at the Smithsonian to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of “Singin’ in the Rain” and Gene Kelly’s innovations in choreographing dance for the camera.

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.”

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