Film historian PATRICIA WARD KELLY is the widow and official biographer of Gene Kelly. She has worked as a writer at a film production company, as a contributing scholar for the authoritative Northwestern/Newberry Writings of Herman Melville, and as a freelance journalist. She and Kelly met at the Smithsonian in 1985, when he was the host/narrator for a television special for which she was a writer. Soon after, he invited her to California to write his memoirs, a job for which she recorded his words nearly every day for over ten years. They were together until his death in 1996. Currently, she serves as Trustee of The Gene Kelly Image Trust, the entity Kelly established during his lifetime to govern the use of his name, voice, likeness, signature, and persona. She is also President and Creative Director of The Gene Kelly Legacy, Inc. a corporation established to celebrate Kelly’s artistry and to perpetuate his legacy worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles where she is completing the book about her late husband. As part of this work, she is preserving and cataloguing The Gene Kelly Archives—an extensive collections of letters, manuscripts, photographs, scripts, interviews, essays, poems, holograph notes, and memorabilia that will eventually be the basis of additional publications and, ultimately, the core of an innovative, virtual Gene Kelly “Experience.”
Mrs. Kelly has recorded commentary for DVDs of An American in Paris, The Pirate, Words and Music, Xanadu, Hello, Dolly!, and is frequently called upon to introduce Gene Kelly’s films in theaters and at festivals, including two years at the TCM Classic Film Festival where she spoke to audiences about An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain and Cover Girl and for which she wrote the program note: “Gene Kelly: Changing the Look of Dance on Film.” She has done an in-depth, 3-hour interview about Gene Kelly for the TCM archives and served as co-host with host Robert Osborne introducing four films for Kelly’s centenary, August 23, 2012. That same year, she joined Oscar-winner Rita Moreno in numerous satellite interviews and a lively “conversation” onstage at the Warner Bros. Theatre at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain and Gene Kelly’s innovations in choreographing dance for the camera.
She has appeared in “An Evening with Mrs. Gene Kelly” in several cities around the world, has been a panelist at the Bangkok International Film Festival and featured speaker at Cinematographer’s Day with her illustrated overview “Gene Kelly and the Revolution of Dance on Film.” In 2007, she joined musician Michael Feinstein in his “Standard Time” Carnegie Hall/ASCAP performance, providing an intimate story about the songs of Gene Kelly. At the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California, she presented a one-woman show about her life with Kelly for Brandeis University. For the past 15 years she has been the keynote speaker at the annual Gene Kelly Awards held at the 2800-seat Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh. She has spoken in 34 Pittsburgh-area high schools and to dance and theater classes at Belmont University in Nashville, and the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at the University of Southern California.
Mrs. Kelly has represented her husband’s Legacy in numerous PBS specials and pledge drives and on the popular television shows “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars,” including an appearance with Derek Hough to discuss “Singin’ in the Rain” and an afternoon spent with a camera crew and contestants exploring The Gene Kelly Archives in her home. She is on the Advisory Board of The Dizzy Feet Foundation, an organization founded by producer Nigel Lythgoe and director Adam Shankman to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the United States and is on the committee to select recipients of the annual Gene Kelly Scholarship. At the Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala, she speaks about Kelly’s Legacy and presents The Gene Kelly Legacy Award—a prestigious recognition of such luminaries in the field of dance and choreography as Damian Woetzel, former principal of New York City Ballet; Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem; Pierre Dulaine, founder of Dancing Classrooms; and internationally-known teacher and choreographer Joe Tremaine. She regularly hosts scores of dancers and other artists from around the world at her home, sharing insights about the life and work of her late husband through an intimate tour of The Gene Kelly Archives.
Mrs. Kelly’s one-woman tribute to her late husband—Gene Kelly: The Legacy, An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly—sold out two nights at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on the occasion of Kelly’s centenary in 2012 and has been touring across the United States and abroad the past four years, with sold-out performances at Lincoln Center and Symphony Space in New York City; the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center in Beverly Hills; The Pasadena Playhouse; Laguna Playhouse; The Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, California; the Sedona Film Festival; SFJazz in San Francisco; Filmpodium in Zurich, Switzerland; Chapman University; and Pittsburgh University; to name just a few venues. The show, conceived, written and performed by Mrs. Kelly, has been hailed as “Superb” by Broadway World; as “a one-of-a-kind, out of this world event” by Sony Pictures; and as “Truly personal—a rarity” by Leonard Maltin of Entertainment Tonight.