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END OF THE RAIN; Hollywood pays tribute to Gene.

STARS paid tribute to one of Hollywood's greatest legends last night.

Gene Kelly died in his sleep at his Beverley Hills home after suffering a series of strokes. He was 83.

The all-singing, all-dancing star from the golden age of musicals had spent much of his later days watching videos of his old performances on the silver screen.

To generations of British film fans, Kelly will best be remembered for his role in Singin' In The Rain - dancing his way through a downpour.

Last night, comedian Ernie Wise, who spoofed the famous routine on TV with his partner Eric Morecambe, paid tribute to the star.

Wise said: "He was one of the greatest. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were the masters. We won't see their like again. I met him once in London at a Variety Club dinner and we talked about our Singin' In The Rain sketch.

"He said he had seen many spoofs of that routine, but he liked ours the best. He didn't mind it at all."

Lucky

Musical star Michael Crawford said: ""Gene taught by example. His devotion and love of his art could be seen by everyone who saw him, on screen or on stage.

"I was lucky enough to have met and worked with him in Hello Dolly."I learned more through him than any other person in my career. I'll miss him.""

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 23, 1912, Kelly's career spanned 50 spectacular years when the Hollywood studios pumped out musical hits one after the other.

Apart from Singin' In The Rain in 1952, his biggest hits were On The Town in 1949 and An American In Paris in 1951, which won the Oscar for Best Picture.

He went on to direct and choreograph many movies, teaching a new generation of dancers the steps that he had made look so effortless.

Kelly himself won a Special Actor Oscar in 1961 and 21 years later was given a Kennedy Centre Honour for lifetime achievement.

His third wife, Patricia, 33, whom he married in 1990, was at his bedside when he died.

Kelly's publicist Warren Cowan said last night: "Gene was a very special, loving and dear man and one of the most talented this industry has ever known."
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Author:Hall, Allan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 3, 1996
Words:376
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