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Gene Kelly's daughter Kerry remembers 'Singin' within the Rain' star's fierce devotion to household in Hollywood

Kerry Kelly Novich was raised by probably the most iconic stars from Hollywood’s golden period – however she insisted her childhood was “abnormal.”

Gene Kelly, the beloved song-and-dance man who starred in movies like “Singin’ within the Rain,” “On the City,” “Anchors Aweigh” and “An American in Paris,” handed away in 1996 at age 83. The actor appeared in 45 movies and his profitable profession in Hollywood spanned a half-century. At present, he’s nonetheless revered as a pioneer in dance on movie.

Kerry Novich didn’t observe in her father’s footsteps however she carved out a profession for herself that celebrates his love of household. She is a baby, adolescent and grownup psychoanalyst with over 55 years of expertise, in addition to an writer. She and her husband not too long ago teamed as much as write “Emotional Muscle: Robust Dad and mom, Robust Kids,” which she stated is geared in direction of “mother and father, grandparents and lecturers.”

Kerry Kelly Novich is the daughter of Gene Kelly. She has fond memories of growing up with the star.

Kerry Kelly Novich is the daughter of Gene Kelly. She has fond reminiscences of rising up with the star. (Courtesy of Kerry Kelly Novich)

Kerry Novich spoke to Fox Information about what it was like rising up with the late star, his early years within the Navy, in addition to how he felt about Hollywood.


Fox Information: When did you first understand that your father was completely different from different dads?
Kerry Kelly Novick: Nicely, one factor about rising up in Beverly Hills is that nearly everyone’s father or mom was in present enterprise. So it wasn’t so completely different.

I believe it was extra of a realization that for the remainder of the world, everyone’s mother and father weren’t well-known. However as a result of it was so abnormal the place I grew up, it didn’t really feel completely different. And my father was abnormal, too. He and I’d go get bagels after which head to the ironmongery store. My mother and I’d go to the general public library. So our lives have been very abnormal.

Kerry Kelly Novich at three weeks old.

Kerry Kelly Novich at three weeks outdated. (Courtesy of Kerry Kelly Novich)

Fox Information: What was it like rising up with Gene Kelly?
Kelly Novick: He was a really devoted, accessible and current dad with me and my siblings. And he was enjoyable and lively. He was very a lot concerned in our schoolwork. However he additionally liked enjoying video games with us.

Fox Information: What’s a favourite reminiscence you might have of your father?
Kelly Novick: There are definitely many. However one which at all times involves thoughts is from the time that I used to be very small. I used to be in all probability 4 or 5. We had a behavior. Each time he was residence early after supper, he would sit in his massive pink leather-based chair within the den and he would decide one thing for us to learn from the encyclopedia. That’s truly how I realized to learn. All of us loved studying new issues and he made it enjoyable for us.


Fox Information: Your father enlisted within the Navy. How a lot of an impression did that have have on him?
Kelly Novick: He enlisted within the Navy as a result of his quantity was up. After which he went besides camp in San Diego. After that, he boxed and went by way of primary coaching. They assigned him to the movie unit that made coaching movies for the Navy. Then he proceeded till the tip of the struggle to make coaching movies, like methods to assemble and disassemble your rifle and issues like that.

After Navy service in World War II, Gene Kelly returned to films.

After Navy service in World Battle II, Gene Kelly returned to movies. (Getty Photos)

Probably the most vital coaching movie he made is one referred to as “Fight Fatigue Irritability.” That’s a brief movie that he directed and partially wrote. And it talks about what was then often called “fight fatigue irritability,” which was referred to as “shell shock” earlier. These days, it’s PTSD. It handled the impression of fight experiences on troopers and sailors. It additionally seemed on the completely different sorts of remedies they obtained. It was a very highly effective film for its time that may now be discovered on the Nationwide Library of Medication, together with John Fords’s which have been related.

Fox Information: It looks like psychological well being wasn’t one thing that was mentioned or understood as it’s right now.
Kelly Novick: I believe it was in some circles. My mother and father have been intellectuals and really avant-garde. So that they have been conscious of psychological well being points. My father used to go to veteran’s hospitals to entertain the younger males who have been in restoration. I believe everyone was very aware of psychological well being wants. And I felt my father’s movie was very fascinating, particularly for me since I’m a psychological well being skilled.

Fox Information: What was your father’s relationship like with the opposite servicemen?
Kelly Novick: It was glorious. My father grew up in a modest household in Pittsburgh in a working-class neighborhood. He at all times noticed himself as a daily individual. I believe he received on very nicely with everyone within the service. He additionally misplaced his easiest mates in fight, so it was at all times an necessary trigger to him.


Kerry Kelly Novich said she has a normal upbringing.

Kerry Kelly Novich stated she has a traditional upbringing. (Courtey of Kerry Kelly Novich)

Fox Information: What are some enjoyable info about Gene Kelly that might shock followers right now?
Kelly Novick: His faculty diploma was in economics. He minored in political science and had an abiding curiosity in American historical past and politics. Within the public, he’s seen as a carefree, athletic dancer. However in non-public he was such an mental who was at all times curious and skim on a regular basis.

Fox Information: It seems like your mother and father weren’t the “film star” kind. 
Kelly Novick: They have been each dancers, however they have been additionally exhausting staff. They have been like skilled athletes in order that they didn’t have the posh of simply lolling round. They have been introduced up by hard-working households the place everybody labored and had a task. My father was a part of supporting his household from when he was in faculty. His household ran two dancing faculties in Pennsylvania. After the Melancholy, my grandfather misplaced his job. And the dancing faculties supported the household. My mom’s mom was a faculty trainer who additionally took care of the household.

Gene Kelly visiting London with his wife, actress Betsy Blair and daughter Kerry, 1955.

Gene Kelly visiting London along with his spouse, actress Betsy Blair and daughter Kerry, 1955. (Picture by © Hulton-Deutsch Assortment/CORBIS/Corbis through Getty Photos)

They achieved success in Hollywood, however my father at all times knew that he was going to guide his personal sort of life. So after I got here alongside, they didn’t need me to be some kind of wealthy child. I had chores and a small allowance. We have been a really completely different Hollywood household. On the weekends, my mother and father held actions like volleyball, baseball, softball and ping-pong. At evening, they have been enjoying charades and singing songs across the piano.

Gene Kelly is seen here listening to his daughter Kerry reading aloud from 'Worzel Gummidge' by Barbara Euphan Todd on the set of the MGM film 'Crest of the Wave' in London, circa 1953. The film was based on the play 'Seagulls Over Sorrento' by Hugh Hastings. 

Gene Kelly is seen right here listening to his daughter Kerry studying aloud from ‘Worzel Gummidge’ by Barbara Euphan Todd on the set of the MGM movie ‘Crest of the Wave’ in London, circa 1953. The movie was based mostly on the play ‘Seagulls Over Sorrento’ by Hugh Hastings.  (Picture by Archive Images/Getty Photos)

On Sunday nights, they often confirmed a film in the lounge with a 16-millimeter projector. I used to be about 11 after I realized methods to run the projector and I used to be very pleased with that. They valued the significance of exhausting work, however in addition they valued the significance of household. Our home was full of all kinds of artistic individuals, however they have been additionally good mates who have been having a beautiful time with us.


Fox Information: Did your father ever train you to bop?
Kelly Novick: *Laughs*. He supplied to show me. I had one lesson after which he stated I needed to apply each day or else he wouldn’t proceed the teachings. I didn’t apply. So he didn’t proceed the teachings. That mirrored in his work ethic.

Fox Information: Is it true that Judy Garland was a household good friend?
Kelly Novick: She was. She and my dad have been very shut mates. I believe he was at all times extraordinarily grateful to Judy. She was already established in films when he was delivered to Hollywood. He at all times stated that she was the one who taught him methods to act in films. She taught him the significance of creating small gestures to convey a sense and utilizing facial expressions in a extra nuanced manner. She was welcoming and type to him. He by no means forgot that. They have been at all times singing and dancing collectively. They remained mates till she died. So Judy and her household have been very a lot part of my childhood.

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland in publicity portrait for the film 'For Me And My Gal', 1942. 

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland in publicity portrait for the movie ‘For Me And My Gal’, 1942.  (Picture by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Photos)

Fox Information: What have been your father’s later years like?
Kelly Novick: There was a profession change. The studio system started to vary so he began doing extra directing and cameo appearances. My step-mother died younger, leaving my brother and sister on the ages of 9 and 7. At that time, my dad decided to not do any extra movies on location. If he couldn’t carry the children, he wouldn’t do it.

By that point, I used to be grown up and residing in England. He was functioning as a single father or mother and made the skilled choice to remain residence and look after my siblings. So his later years have been of devotion. He taken care of my brother and sister they usually have been very a lot a precedence. However he was additionally a mentor to many younger artists. Individuals would at all times search him out for profession recommendation and doubtless private recommendation like Paula Abdul and Michael Jackson. He was thrilled to do it.


Fox Information: You’ve been working with youngsters and households for a very long time. How did your upbringing encourage you to pursue this position, versus working in Hollywood?
Kelly Novick: I used to be at all times occupied with caring for youngsters. I used to babysit so much as a child. I briefly labored in designing units and being a dressing up supervisor after faculty. However I then went again to highschool and skilled to be a baby psychoanalyst with Anna Freud in London.

Gene Kelly (1912 - 1996) with his wife Jeanne Coyne (1923 - 1973) and their children Tim and Bridget, circa 1968.

Gene Kelly (1912 – 1996) along with his spouse Jeanne Coyne (1923 – 1973) and their youngsters Tim and Bridget, circa 1968. (Picture by Henry Gris/FPG/Getty Photos)

It was a steady thread. My father was at all times very occupied with youngsters. He was a trainer and one in all my grandmothers was a trainer. There was a robust custom within the household of paying attention to the wants of youngsters. There have been scenes with youngsters in nearly each one in all my father’s movies. He was pleased with me. He had lots of confidence in me and knew this was additionally necessary to me. He would say, “I belief your selection. If that is what you need to do, go for it.”

Fox Information: What’s life like for you right now?
Kelly Novick: It’s terrific. I’ve three youngsters and 9 grandchildren. I’m nonetheless very lively in my profession. My husband and I write books collectively. We’re each psychoanalysts so we do lots of instructing. I’m 79 and I’m wholesome, pleased and busy.

Gene Kelly swings from a lamp post in a still from the film, 'Singin' In The Rain' directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952.

Gene Kelly swings from a lamp put up in a nonetheless from the movie, ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952. (Picture by MGM Studios/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

Fox Information: Earlier than your father’s passing, how did he really feel about Hollywood?
Kelly Novick: He was very pleased with his profession. He was additionally grateful that individuals continued to worth his work, particularly in direction of the tip of his life. At one level, he advised me, “I simply need to make individuals pleased.” I believe he succeeded. His movies train us the enjoyment of artistic expression. It is not totally believable for individuals to stroll down the road and immediately burst into music and dance. However the concept this lives within us is, I believe, a robust cause why we nonetheless love his movies.

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