Yeah, just Gene. He and I are on a first name basis. That would be Gene Kelly.
Today is his birthday, so I figured I just couldn't let it pass by without letting everyone know.
Two recent incidents make me realize how far away he is from children of today. One day I was talking with our intern at work who is just an amazing guy. He's about 20. Well somehow we got on the subject of dancing and movies and I mentioned Gene Kelly. He nodded and I suspected he didn't know the name. So I asked, "Do you know who Gene Kelly is?" He smiled and good naturedly said, "no". Rather than give him a lecture on Gene and his work and its significance in American dance and entertainment, I just let him know that he was a very famous dancer who was popular in Hollywood musicals.
Then one day while listening to our local NPR station, they interviewed a professor of film and asked him what sort of movies families could watch together that would a) appeal to the kids and b) not annoy or bore the crap out of parents. He mentioned the Gene Kelly musicals and noted how the music was wonderful and part of the American Songbook, the dances were entertaining as was Kelly. He then listed some favorites and I smiled because they are the ones the boy has seen over and over.
The boy has NO idea yet that American culture is unsupportive (at best) of male dancers. He thinks Gene Kelly is amazing and loves to tap dance. We (husband, boy and myself) took a tap class together along with my sister. We had a blast and the boy fell in love with it.
So while the man is far away from most young people and their cultural references, he is quite present in our home!
This is a clip of one of my favorite dances (code to embed was disabled). It's the ballet from On The Town. I really just like to watch Gene Kelly dance alone, but of all the female partners he had, Vera Ellen is my hands down favorite, so this is especially enjoyable to me. Plus, who doesn't love Leonard Bernstein's gorgeous music?
Here are two of my favorite Gene photos. They're from a Life Magazine photo shoot and they just capture his athleticism and grace. Plus he's darned handsome too!
Enjoy and wish Gene a happy birthday.