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Gene Kelly’s widow takes dig at Debbie Reynolds’ dance skills

Seventy years after “Singin’ in the Rain” debuted on the silver screen, the MGM musical is still as memorable as ever.

Star (and director) Gene Kelly’s widow Patricia Ward Kelly broke down a few myths from the iconic 1952 film — including the oft-told fable about co-star Debbie Reynolds’ dance abilities.

“The true story is pretty magical — I don’t think you have to embellish it,” Patricia told Yahoo! Entertainment recently. “The facts are that they pulled this remarkable thing off, and that everybody is performing at the top of their game. The true story is a good story.”

The famed choreographer, who passed away in 1996, married Patricia in 1990.

Kelly’s widow first quipped that “it would be nice if we could get some of [the myths] stopped. A lot of the myths get printed in books and get taken down as fact and they’re just not.”

As for Reynolds, she was cast in the romantic comedy as aspiring actress, Kathy Selden, who falls in love with Kelly’s aging silent-era star, Don Lockwood. One rumor that plagued the film decades after its release was how she clashed with Kelly over her lack of dancing skills.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, Debbie Reynolds, 1952
Reynolds previously discussed her role in the movie musical and the strenuous rehearsal process.
Courtesy Everett Collection

She even told the Sunday Express in 2013 how her “feet were bleeding from all that dancing” during filming. “If I wasn’t smiling, Gene would yell at me to smile more. During filming, I thought my cheeks were going to crack from all that smiling,” she recalled.

However, Patricia wasn’t having it and explained the truth to Yahoo! “Most of what [Debbie] said about it was fabricated and would change over the years,” she noted.

She continued, “Gene said he didn’t see blood all over the floor the way it was described.” She also pushed back on Reynolds’ tales of doctors healing her because her feet were busted up from rehearsing late at night.

“Again, if you look at the production notes, you know exactly when she checked in and out and when she had lunch. And if doctors are called to set, it’s always noted. They just weren’t,” Patricia clapped back.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, 1952
Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain,” 1952.
Courtesy Everett Collection

She also voiced her thoughts on how the “Anchors Aweigh” actor — whom she first met in 1985 when she was 26 and he was 73 — “chose” Reynolds for the leading role. “Gene thought she was the perfect ingénue,” she said, noting he felt confident enough to teach her the choreography and “make an inexperienced person look good onscreen.”

“Gene always said that they never imagined that people would be watching the movie 70 years later,” she said, adding that Kelly thought that his last musical would be 1951’s “An American in Paris.”

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