Gene Kelly (1912 - 1996)

A photo of Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly
1912 - 1996
Born
August 23, 1912
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania United States
Death
February 2, 1996
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California United States
Other Names
Eugene Curran Kelly, Gene Curran Kelly
Summary
Gene Kelly was born on August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to his family tree, Gene was father to 3 children. He married Betsy Blair on September 22, 1941 in and they later divorced on April 3, 1957 in . They had a child Kerry Kelly. He also married Jeanne Coyne on August 6, 1960 in . They were married until Jeanne's death in 1973 in Los Angeles, California. They had children Bridget Kelly and Timothy Kelly. He died on February 2, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California at 83 years old.
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Updated: August 23, 2021
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February 3, 1996 Gene Kelly, Dancer of Vigor and Grace, Dies By ALBIN KREBS Gene Kelly, the dancer, actor, director and choreographer who brought a vigorous athleticism, casual grace and an earthy masculinity to the high romance of lavish Hollywood musicals, died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83. Mr. Kelly's highly developed sense of the possibilities of dance on film invigorated classic musicals like "Anchors Aweigh," "On the Town," "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain." A gifted dancer with his own vibrant style, he also flourished as an innovative choreographer and director in the 1940's and 50's, the heyday of the big, splashy Hollywood musical. Mr. Kelly, who could also put over a song in a high, thin voice, brought to his films an inventive technique that enabled him to create unusual and imaginative dance routines that usually arose directly out of a plot or script situation. Thus millions of moviegoers remember Mr. Kelly dancing merrily in a downpour in "Singin' in the Rain," hoofing with an animated mouse, Jerry, in "Anchors Aweigh," hopping over garbage cans in a sequence in "It's Always Fair Weather" and, with the aid of special process photography, dancing with himself in the "alter ego" number from "Cover Girl." In addition to his movies, which included "The Pirate," "Brigadoon" and the drama "Inherit the Wind," Mr. Kelly was also a star on Broadway, where he created the title role of the heel as hero in "Pal Joey," choreographed "Best Foot Forward" and directed Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song." "I don't really know why I clicked," Mr. Kelly said many years later. "I didn't want to be a dancer. I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally. "In the 1930's, when I started, Martha Graham was the only dancer doing anything modern, but she did it all to classical music. I couldn't see myself doing 'Swan Lake' every night, and I wanted to develop a truly American style. The only dancer in the movies at that time with any success was Fred Astaire, but he did very small, elegant steps in a top hat, white tie and tails. I was too big physically for that kind of dancing, and I looked better in a sweatshirt and loafers anyway. It wasn't elegant, but it was me." Eugene Curran Kelly was born on Aug. 23, 1912, in Pittsburgh. His mother insisted that all five of the Kelly children take music and dance lessons, and in high school Mr. Kelly continued dance lessons while also playing on the football and hockey teams. His education at Pennsylvania State College was interrupted by the Depression, and his first job was teaching gymnastics at a summer camp for boys. He was later able to major in economics at the University of Pittsburgh and received a degree in 1933, but jobs were scarce and he went to work for a dancing school partly owned by his mother. Two years later, the school was renamed the Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance and soon a successful branch was opened in Johnstown. Meanwhile, Mr. Kelly directed plays produced locally and formed a dance act with his brother Fred, with whom he performed in a theater for children at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. In the mid-1930's Mr. Kelly also redirected vaudeville acts that passed through Pittsburgh. Mr. Kelly did not decide to try his luck in New York until 1938, when he was 27 years old. His first job was as a Broadway chorus boy in 1938's "Leave It to Me," dancing while Mary Martin sang "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," but the next year he won critical acclaim for his featured role as the comic hoofer in William Saroyan's play "The Time of Your Life." That success led to his being cast in "Pal Joey," the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical, in which he played the unscrupulous central character so convincingly that John Martin, a critic for The New York Times, said, "He is not only glib-footed, but he has a feeling for comment and content that give his dancing personal distinction and raise it several notches as a dancing art." Mr. Kelly's ability to meld singing and dancing with characterization and the demands of the play's plot attracted so much notice that David O. Selznick signed him to an exclusive Hollywood contract. At the time, Mr. Kelly was appearing in "Pal Joey" at night and by day choreographing the Broadway musical hit "Best Foot Forward." In 1941, he left for Hollywood, where he was to bring a new vitality to dance on film and help change the whole concept of movie musicals. Mr. Selznick had no musicals planned, however, and lent Mr. Kelly to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio most noted for lavish musicals. His first film, in 1942, was "For Me and My Gal," in which he starred as a small-time vaudeville hoofer opposite Judy Garland. It was a huge success, but MGM, after buying the new star's contract from Mr. Selznick, relegated him to relatively minor parts in "DuBarry Was a Lady," "Thousands Cheer," and the wartime drama "Cross of Lorraine." In "Cover Girl," co-starring with Rita Hayworth in 1944 on loan to Columbia Pictures, Mr. Kelly's career took off. With the aid of Stanley Donen, with whom he was to direct and choreograph several movies in years to follow, Mr. Kelly developed the celebrated "alter ego" solo dance with his ectoplasmic self, the character's conscience. Photographed separately, then combined on a single strip of film, the two Kelly images seemed to pursue each other up and down flights of steps, to threaten each other and leap over each other's heads. "For once, a dance on the screen is not merely a specialty but actually develops character and advances plot," wrote a New York Times critic. Mr. Kelly's choreographic inventiveness was credited with the success of the trail-blazing live-dance-with-animation sequence in "Anchors Aweigh" in 1945. He had a hard time persuading MGM officials that they should spend $100,000 and two months shooting an eight-minute number, in which he would dance with Jerry the mouse from the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon series. Simple live action and animation went back to silent-film days, but Mr. Kelly's idea involved color and intricate dance steps for himself and the cartoon characters, and required complex laboratory and processing work. For the charming sequence, Mr. Kelly first danced against a plain blue background, then animators filmed the mouse song-and-dance portion. What audiences saw was a composite picture made from the two separate films, with man and mouse happily dancing and singing. The procedure is common now, even in television commercials, but in the mid-1940's it was hailed as a cinematic breakthrough. After the war, Mr. Kelly's first big picture was "The Pirate," a 1948 spoof of swashbuckling adventures in which he again starred with Judy Garland, with whom he sang the rousing "Be a Clown." James Agee, the critic, found Mr. Kelly's performance "very ambitious, painfully misguided, by John Barrymore out of the elder Douglas Fairbanks." In "The Three Musketeers" (1948), Mr. Kelly did not dance, but as D'Artagnan he used his balletic skills to burlesque some fencing scenes. One of Mr. Kelly's most memorable dance performances came in the seven-minute "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" ballet sequence in "Words and Music," a 1948 movie that was only subliminally based on the lives of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Most critics agreed that about the only thing to cheer about the film was the Rodgers ballet, in which Mr. Kelly was partnered with Vera-Ellen. In 1949, Mr. Kelly made two films with Frank Sinatra, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and one of his all-time hits, "On the Town," which he directed and choreographed with Mr. Donen and filmed mostly on location in New York City. Mr. Kelly, whose co-stars included Betty Garrett, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen, turned the film into an exhilarating, joyful experience that began with the brassy "New York, New York (It's a Helluva Town)" opening number and never let up in its mood of pervasive effervescence. "This film was a milestone," he said in 1977. "It was the first musical to be shot on location. We took the musical off the sound stage and showed that it could be realistic. But some of Mr. Kelly's most popular and artistically successful films were yet to come. In 1951, "An American in Paris," in which he received sole star billing, won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of the year, and a special Oscar for Mr. Kelly for his contributions to screen choreography. An integral part of the film was a 17-minute ballet conceived by Mr. Kelly and the director, Vincente Minnelli, as a means of showing the impact Paris has on the hero. Costumes, sets and dance movements for the ballet were borrowed from the styles of such artists as Dufy, Renoir, Utrillo, Rousseau, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec and the music danced to by Mr. Kelly and Leslie Caron was George Gershwin's "American in Paris" suite."Singin' in the Rain," released in 1952, was one of the last of the big MGM musicals and it was, said Vincent Canby, film critic of The New York Times, in a 1975 appraisal, "a movie masterpiece." Again teaming with Mr. Donen, Mr. Kelly helped to direct and choreograph the affectionate spoof of the start of the talkies era in movies. The movie made splendid use of such Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown songs as "You Were Meant for Me," "You Are My Lucky Star" and "All I Do Is Dream of You." In the title number, a love-struck Mr. Kelly, with an umbrella as his principal prop, sang and splashed ecstatically and obliviously through a downpour on an all-but-deserted street. The sequence is widely regarded as a classic piece of cinematic choreography.
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Biography
Gene Kelly
Most commonly known as
Gene Kelly
Full name
Eugene Curran Kelly, Gene Curran Kelly
Other names or aliases
Unknown. Did Gene move a lot? Where was his last known location?
Last known residence
Male
Gender
Gene Kelly was born on in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania United States
Birth
Gene Kelly died on in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California United States
Death
Birth
Death
There is no cause of death listed for Gene.
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Gene Kelly?
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Heritage

Ethnicity & Lineage

Irish.

Nationality & Locations

Irish.
Childhood

Education

Pittsburgh. Amanda S. Stevenson Here is what happened. Angela Lansbury was starring in Gypsy in London. The theatre was packed and star-studded. Liberace got a standing ovation just walking in the door. But I had the balls to go over and talk with him and he was SUPER FRIENDLY and he said, "If you don't want attention, then don't become famous." He was very upbeat. Then when I was walking down the aisle towards my seat, Gene Kelly was in the middle of the aisle enjoying the attention he was getting. I stopped and said, "Gene Kelly" and he said, "Meet my sister, Patsy." Obviously, Patsy Kelly did not expect a bunch of people to fawn over her, but I was a big fan of her since I was in kindergarten. So I said, "Patsy Kelly! I've wanted to meet you my whole life! (I was about 28 and really pretty with a knockout body.) Can I kiss you?" And she sparkled and said, "Sure!" So I kissed her right on the lips! And that made her night! And Gene Kelly was delighted. Later I spent time in Angela Lansbury's dressing room. I told her that she was the most SYMPATHETIC Rose I had ever seen. Angela was so touched that she burst into tears and said, "That is why I wanted to play her!" She never forgot me for that. I gave Gene Kelly and Patsy Kelly and Liberace and Peter Shaw (Angela's husband) tributes on ancient faces. I'm sure Gene Kelly was happy that Patsy got the kind of special attention she deserved. Amanda S. Stevenson I met Liberace a few more times in the USA.

Religion

Films For Me and My Gal 1942 Du Barry Was a Lady 1943 Cover Girl 1944 Anchors Aweigh 1945 The Pirate 1948 The Three Musketeers 1948 Words and Music 1948 Take Me Out to the Ball Game 1949 On the Town 1949 Black Hand 1950 An American in Paris 1951 Singin' in the Rain 1952 Brigadoon 1954 It's Always Fair Weather 1955 Invitation to the Dance 1956 Les Girls 1957 Marjorie Morningstar 1958 Inherit the Wind 1960 The Young Girls of Rochefort 1967 40 Carats 1973 That's Entertainment! 1974 That's Entertainment! Part II 1976 That's Entertainment! III 1994 Theater The Time of Your Life 1939 Pal Joey 1940 Best Foot Forward 1941

Baptism

Was Gene baptized?
Adulthood

Professions

Since it was a period piece in the first place, taking place in the Hollywood of the 1920's, when sound was revolutionizing the movie business, "Singin' in the Rain" even today does not seem dated, possibly because, as Mr. Kelly put it, "when you work in a period that was, you have some distance and a better chance to make a picture last." Debbie Reynolds, who was 18 at the time and had her first major role in "Singin' in the Rain," had never sung or danced before, but she said years later: "I learned a lot from Gene. He is a perfectionist and a disciplinarian: the most exacting director I've worked for. And he has a good temper. Every so often he would yell at me and make me cry. But it took a lot of patience for him to work with someone who had never danced before." In 1989, "Singin' in the Rain" was among the first 25 films chosen by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry of significant motion pictures. Mr. Kelly's last major musicals at MGM were "Brigadoon" (1954), a disappointment, and "It's Always Fair Weather (1955) and "Les Girls" (1957), which were both hits. In the 1950's, he also appeared in "Deep in My Heart," "Marjorie Morningstar" and "The Devil Makes Three," and he produced and directed "The Happy Road," "Tunnel of Love" and other movies. Generally regarded as an artistic as well as a commercial failure was Mr. Kelly's ambitious project "Invitation to the Dance," a three-part, plotless dance film without dialogue released in 1956. Mr. Kelly starred in the film and directed and choreographed it. "The public wasn't ready for a serious dance film, and besides, by the time it came out, the popularity of film musicals had declined," Mr. Kelly said. He nevertheless said he believed the public could be taught to appreciate dance, and late in 1958 conceived, wrote, narrated and danced in an NBC-TV special called "Dancing Is a Man's Game," in which he used athletes to demonstrate the sheer physicality and manliness of dance, often viewed by Americans as an effete art. That same year, Mr. Kelly returned to Broadway to direct the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song," In 1960, Mr. Kelly was invited to write and choreograph for the Paris Opera ballet troupe a zesty modern jazz ballet, which he set to Gershwin's "Concerto in F." He gave the ballet the punning title "Pas de Dieux," and he received 23 curtain calls after its premiere. A pas de deux he created for the San Francisco Ballet in 1982 was not as enthusiastically greeted. Over the years there were many appearances on television specials by Mr. Kelly, and he also had a weekly series on ABC-TV in 1963 called "Going My Way," in which he was seen as a priest. Mr. Kelly also continued to direct an occasional movie, including "Hello, Dolly!" in 1969 and "The Cheyenne Social Club" in 1970. His last performance on screen was dancing on roller skates in the 1980 movie "Xanadu," with Olivia Newton-John, a reprise of a number he did with his brother, Fred, years earlier. He also reminisced in the 1994 anthology film "That's Entertainment! III." In 1994, Mr. Kelly was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, awarded by President Clinton in a ceremony at the White House. Mr. Kelly's first wife was the actress Betsy Blair, from whom he was divorced in 1957. They had a daughter, Kerry. In 1960, Mr. Kelly married Jeanne Coyne, who had been one of his dance students in Pittsburgh and had worked as his assistant choreographer since 1949. They had two children, Timothy and Bridget. Mrs. Kelly died in 1973. In 1990, he married Patricia Ward. The Hits in Film And Onstage Gene Kelly first won stardom on Broadway, in the musical "Pal Joey." In Hollywood, he sang, danced, acted, choreographed and directed. Here are some highlights of his career. Films For Me and My Gal 1942 Du Barry Was a Lady 1943 Cover Girl 1944 Anchors Aweigh 1945 The Pirate 1948 The Three Musketeers 1948 Words and Music 1948 Take Me Out to the Ball Game 1949 On the Town 1949 Black Hand 1950 An American in Paris 1951 Singin' in the Rain 1952 Brigadoon 1954 It's Always Fair Weather 1955 Invitation to the Dance 1956 Les Girls 1957 Marjorie Morningstar 1958 Inherit the Wind 1960 The Young Girls of Rochefort 1967 40 Carats 1973 That's Entertainment! 1974 That's Entertainment! Part II 1976 That's Entertainment! III 1994 Theater The Time of Your Life 1939 Pal Joey 1940 Best Foot Forward 1941 Back to Top

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Betsy Blair

&

Gene Kelly

Married: September 22, 1941 - April 3, 1957
Cause of Separation: Divorce
Married at: United States
Divorced at: United States
Gene Kelly Gene Kelly
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Jeanne Coyne

&

Gene Kelly

Married: August 6, 1960 - March 10, 1973
Cause of Separation: Jeanne's Death
Married at: United States
Ended: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA United States
Gene Kelly Gene Kelly
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Gene Kelly, the dancer, actor, director and choreographer who brought a vigorous athleticism, casual grace and an earthy masculinity to the high romance of lavish Hollywood musicals, died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83. His longtime publicity agent, Warren Cowan, said Mr. Kelly had never fully recovered from strokes he suffered in 1994 and last year. Mr. Kelly's highly developed sense of the possibilities of dance on film invigorated classic musicals like "Anchors Aweigh," "On the Town," "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain." A gifted dancer with his own vibrant style, he also flourished as an innovative choreographer and director in the 1940's and 50's, the heyday of the big, splashy Hollywood musical. Mr. Kelly, who could also put over a song in a high, thin voice, brought to his films an inventive technique that enabled him to create unusual and imaginative dance routines that usually arose directly out of a plot or script situation. Thus millions of moviegoers remember Mr. Kelly dancing merrily in a downpour in "Singin' in the Rain," hoofing with an animated mouse, Jerry, in "Anchors Aweigh," hopping over garbage cans in a sequence in "It's Always Fair Weather" and, with the aid of special process photography, dancing with himself in the "alter ego" number from "Cover Girl." In addition to his movies, which included "The Pirate," "Brigadoon" and the drama "Inherit the Wind," Mr. Kelly was also a star on Broadway, where he created the title role of the heel as hero in "Pal Joey," choreographed "Best Foot Forward" and directed Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song." "I don't really know why I clicked," Mr. Kelly said many years later. "I didn't want to be a dancer. I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally. "In the 1930's, when I started, Martha Graham was the only dancer doing anything modern, but she did it all to classical music. I couldn't see myself doing 'Swan Lake' every night, and I wanted to develop a truly American style. The only dancer in the movies at that time with any success was Fred Astaire, but he did very small, elegant steps in a top hat, white tie and tails. I was too big physically for that kind of dancing, and I looked better in a sweatshirt and loafers anyway. It wasn't elegant, but it was me." Eugene Curran Kelly was born on Aug. 23, 1912, in Pittsburgh. His mother insisted that all five of the Kelly children take music and dance lessons, and in high school Mr. Kelly continued dance lessons while also playing on the football and hockey teams. His education at Pennsylvania State College was interrupted by the Depression, and his first job was teaching gymnastics at a summer camp for boys. He was later able to major in economics at the University of Pittsburgh and received a degree in 1933, but jobs were scarce and he went to work for a dancing school partly owned by his mother. Two years later, the school was renamed the Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance and soon a successful branch was opened in Johnstown. Meanwhile, Mr. Kelly directed plays produced locally and formed a dance act with his brother Fred, with whom he performed in a theater for children at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. In the mid-1930's Mr. Kelly also redirected vaudeville acts that passed through Pittsburgh. Mr. Kelly did not decide to try his luck in New York until 1938, when he was 27 years old. His first job was as a Broadway chorus boy in 1938's "Leave It to Me," dancing while Mary Martin sang "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," but the next year he won critical acclaim for his featured role as the comic hoofer in William Saroyan's play "The Time of Your Life." That success led to his being cast in "Pal Joey," the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical, in which he played the unscrupulous central character so convincingly that John Martin, a critic for The New York Times, said, "He is not only glib-footed, but he has a feeling for comment and content that give his dancing personal distinction and raise it several notches as a dancing art." Mr. Kelly's ability to meld singing and dancing with characterization and the demands of the play's plot attracted so much notice that David O. Selznick signed him to an exclusive Hollywood contract. At the time, Mr. Kelly was appearing in "Pal Joey" at night and by day choreographing the Broadway musical hit "Best Foot Forward." In 1941, he left for Hollywood, where he was to bring a new vitality to dance on film and help change the whole concept of movie musicals. Mr. Selznick had no musicals planned, however, and lent Mr. Kelly to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio most noted for lavish musicals. His first film, in 1942, was "For Me and My Gal," in which he starred as a small-time vaudeville hoofer opposite Judy Garland. It was a huge success, but MGM, after buying the new star's contract from Mr. Selznick, relegated him to relatively minor parts in "DuBarry Was a Lady," "Thousands Cheer," and the wartime drama "Cross of Lorraine." "Singin' in the Rain," released in 1952, was one of the last of the big MGM musicals and it was, said Vincent Canby, film critic of The New York Times, in a 1975 appraisal, "a movie masterpiece." Again teaming with Mr. Donen, Mr. Kelly helped to direct and choreograph the affectionate spoof of the start of the talkies era in movies. The movie made splendid use of such Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown songs as "You Were Meant for Me," "You Are My Lucky Star" and "All I Do Is Dream of You." In the title number, a love-struck Mr. Kelly, with an umbrella as his principal prop, sang and splashed ecstatically and obliviously through a downpour on an all-but-deserted street. The sequence is widely regarded as a classic piece of cinematic choreography. as de Dieux," and he received 23 curtain calls after its premiere. A pas de deux he created for the San Francisco Ballet in 1982 was not as enthusiastically greeted. Over the years there were many appearances on television specials by Mr. Kelly, and he also had a weekly series on ABC-TV in 1963 called "Going My Way," in which he was seen as a priest. Mr. Kelly also continued to direct an occasional movie, including "Hello, Dolly!" in 1969 and "The Cheyenne Social Club" in 1970. His last performance on screen was dancing on roller skates in the 1980 movie "Xanadu," with Olivia Newton-John, a reprise of a number he did with his brother, Fred, years earlier. He also reminisced in the 1994 anthology film "That's Entertainment! III." In 1994, Mr. Kelly was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, awarded by President Clinton in a ceremony at the White House. Mr. Kelly's first wife was the actress Betsy Blair, from whom he was divorced in 1957. They had a daughter, Kerry. In 1960, Mr. Kelly married Jeanne Coyne, who had been one of his dance students in Pittsburgh and had worked as his assistant choreographer since 1949. They had two children, Timothy and Bridget. Mrs. Kelly died in 1973. In 1990, he married Patricia Ward.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Gene's lifetime.

In 1912, in the year that Gene Kelly was born, the Girl Scouts of the USA was started by Juliette Gordon Low with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts in Great Britain. She said after a meeting with Baden-Powell, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" And she did.

In 1930, at the age of 18 years old, Gene was alive when on August 6th, N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater went through papers in his office, destroyed some of them, withdrew all his money from the bank - $5,150, sold his stock, met friends at a restaurant for dinner and disappeared after getting into a taxi (or walking down the street - his friends' testimony later changed). His disappearance was reported to the police on September 3rd - almost a month later. His wife didn't know what happened, his fellow Justices had no idea, and his mistresses (he had several) said that they didn't know. While his disappearance was front page news, his fate was never discovered and after 40 years the case was closed, still without knowing if Crater was dead or alive.

In 1946, he was 34 years old when on July 4th, the Philippines gained independence from the United States. In 1964, Independence Day in the Philippines was moved from July 4th to June 12th at the insistence of nationalists and historians.

In 1979, by the time he was 67 years old, on November 4th, Iranian militant students seized the US embassy in Teheran and held 52 American citizens and diplomats hostage for 444 days. They were released at the end of the inauguration speech of the newly elected Ronald Reagan.

In 1996, in the year of Gene Kelly's passing, on April 3rd, Theodore Kaczynski (nicknamed the Unabomber) was arrested. His mailed or hand-delivered bombs, sent between 1978 and 1995, killed three people and injured 23 others. Diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, Kaczynski is serving 8 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

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