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Gene Kelly, Glasgow, 1953

13 Feb
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Gene Kelly, Gordon Street, Glasgow, April 21 1953 (c) Herald & Times Group

Gene Kelly may have been at the peak of his fame and popularity in 1953, but when he stepped out of Glasgow’s Central Hotel and into the morning sunshine on Gordon Street in his tweed coat and bunnet, he went virtually unnoticed by passers-by.

The 40-year-old Singing in the Rain star had motored up overnight from London with the celebrated MGM producer Arthur Freed for a brief visit to Scotland. After a quick chat with Evening Times film critic Tom Goldie, the Americans set off for a tour of Burns country and the Trossachs to soak up the atmosphere and seek out inspiration for their next collaboration – a movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon, a fantasy set in Scotland.

Following their reccie, Kelly said: “I had looked forward to making Brigadoon in Scotland. Now that I’ve seen even a little bit of your country I’m sorrier than ever that plans have had to be changed. But a picture like this has to be made in the new big-screen Cinemascope system that gives an impression of depth, and it has to be done in Hollywood.”

He did at least promise that backgrounds would be photographed in Scotland – and that they had been sussing out ideas for these during their trip which would continue with a visit to Edinburgh and a tour of the Highlands.

And for entertainment on his night on the town in Glasgow? Dance-mad Kelly went to the Theatre Royal, where he parked his bunnet in a box, to see the Celtic Ballet featuring Andrew Rolla, who danced the principal part in the touring stage production of Brigadoon. Promising to return during the summer, Kelly said: “You know, this Scotland of yours is quite the loveliest country I’ve seen. This is my first visit – but,” he added with a wink, “it won’t be my last.”

(c) Alison Kerr, 2012

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