When you think about Gene Kelly, you think of one of the stars during the golden age of Hollywood, of both the stage and screen. Men wanted to be him, women wanted to be with him, and that perception really helped cement his legacy in the annals of Hollywood lore.
A recent biography, He's Got Rhythm, has shed some light on who the man was beyond the bright lights of the red carpet. According to the book, not only was Kelly a star, but he also had a huge ego, and an even more massive temper.
The book was written with the help of interviews with Kelly's family and close friends. The authors, Cynthia and Sara Brideson, were also able to some how dig up previously unpublished sources. It has made for a very interesting and enlightening read.
But what evidence did the authors manage to find that would prove that the allegations of his anger and ego were true? One of Kelly's former co-stars gave an interesting anecdote about what it was like to work with him. “Cyd Charisse claimed that her husband always knew when she had been dancing with Gene Kelly if she came home with bruises and with Fred Astaire if she came home unmarked,” say the authors.
But was it just his anger and his ego that Kelly was hiding? Not according to the book.
Another hidden secret that the book brings to light is that Kelly apparently enjoyed the company of younger women. Even though most of the evidence was anecdotal, one fact plays into this idea. When Kelly was 77 years old, he married 33-year-old Patricia Ward, a woman he had previously hired to help him write his memoirs.
One of the few things that Kelly spoke of regretting, was neglecting his daughter. After serving in WW2, he sent his daughter to live with his wife's parents, and would only visit her occasionally. He owned up to his failed attempt at fatherhood, he called it “selfish, unfatherly neglect. Betsy and I just wanted to have a good time."
It turns out that Gene Kelly wasn't quite the man that he appeared to be.