Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

GENE KELLY: The Legacy

 

December 1, 2014

Wallis Center for the Performing Arts (aka "The Wallis") announces Gene Kelly: The Legacy, an evening with Patricia Ward Kelly, for a single performance on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm in the Bram Goldsmith Theater.

Gene Kelly was a joyous performer. A legendary dancer, director and choreographer, he brought astonishing grace, athleticism and masculinity to the big screen. He continues to delight and captivate us, yet we know little about him.

During a unique evening, Patricia Ward Kelly-his widow, biographer and the person who knew him best-presents an intimate portrait of this dynamic and innovative artist who created some of the most memorable and iconic scenes in film history.

Said The Wallis' Interim Artistic Director, Patricia Wolff, "The world knows Gene Kelly through his remarkable legacy as a musical, dance and choreographic genius, and as a wildly successful entertainer and filmmaker. He was also a longtime resident of Beverly Hills, so all of us at The Wallis feel a kinship and are especially gratified and proud that Gene's widow and biographer, Patricia Ward Kelly, will bring this inspirational evening to our audience."

Patricia Kelly's compelling presentation combines rare and familiar film clips, previously unreleased audio recordings, personal memorabilia, and insights culled from her hours of interviews and conversations with her husband. This special live program makes for a remarkable experience praised as "a real treat" by Variety and hailed as "deeply moving" and "mesmerizing."

Subscriptions and tickets are available at http://www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at The Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Patricia Ward met Gene Kelly in 1985 in Washington, D.C., where she was the writer for a television special about The Smithsonian for which he was the host and narrator. Soon after, he invited her to California to write his memoir. They fell in love, married, and were together until his death in 1996.

"'I never knew that about him. ' -- that's one of the most common things I hear from people following my show. Even the newspaper in Gene's hometown of Pittsburgh responded with the headline: 'And we thought we knew Gene Kelly.'" said Patricia Ward Kelly. "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. 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 lower 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."

She added, "Each time I do the show, I learn new things from the audience and am touched by the personal stories that people share with me when I greet them before and after. He inspired many; others moved by a particular number or the way it affected them at a certain time in their lives.

Some remember being introduced to Gene's movies by a parent or grandparent, and, of course, there are many for whom he was a first 'love'-a crush that, in some cases, has lasted for decades. So, in many ways, the experience is very reciprocal. "People often ask me if it is difficult to do the show because it is so personal and emotional. In fact, sharing the stories helps to deal with the absence, as Gene remains current and continues to influence new generations."

Currently, Patricia Ward Kelly serves as sole trustee of The Gene Kelly Image Trust and as Creative Director of Gene Kelly: The Legacy, a corporation established to celebrate Kelly's artistry worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles where she is completing the definitive book about her late husband.

 

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