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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┬áCentral 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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