Musical Icon Gene Kelly Was Married Three Times During His Life

Gene Kelly was married three times over the course of his life, including one relationship with a large age gap.


Mar. 20 2024, Published 11:51 a.m. ET

Gene Kelly with Jeanne Coyne and their children in the 1960s.
Source: Getty Images

Thanks to performances in Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris, among other prominent roles, Gene Kelly was one of the defining musical stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Gene was prominent in a period when the personal lives of stars were carefully manicured and controlled, so information about his personal life was naturally limited to what music studios wanted people to know.

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Recently, though, some renewed attention has been paid to Gene's marriages, and specifically to the significant age gap inside of one of them. Here's what we know about that relationship, and about his marriages more generally.

Patricia Ward looking up at a statue of Gene Kelly.
Source: Getty Images
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Gene Kelly married Betsy Blair in 1941.

Gene's first marriage was to fellow actor Betsy Blair, who appeared in films like Marty and A Double Life, and also had a long career as a stage actor. She and Gene met when was in the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, and the two married when she was just 17 years old. Although she was an American, she based almost the entirety of her career out of London. She and Gene had one child together and were divorced in 1957.

Gene Kelly married Jeanne Coyne in 1960.

Three years after his divorce from Betsy, Gene married choreographic assistant Jeanne Coyne. Jeanne had previously been married to one of Gene's most frequent collaborators, Stanley Donen. Gene and Jeanne had two children together, Timothy and Bridget, and their marriage lasted until Jeanne's death in 1973. Jeanne died at just 50 years old after being diagnosed with leukemia.

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Gene Kelly married Patricia Ward in 1990.

Gene married Patricia Ward when he was 78 and she was 31 in 1990. The two remained married until his death six years later in 1996. Recently, Patricia has discussed their marriage and explained that their 47-year age gap was never an issue in their relationship.

"(The) funny thing is, I never really even thought about it because he was so young at heart," she said in speaking with Fox News. "He was young in the way he spoke, in his demeanor, in his brightness of his mind, certainly."

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Patricia even added that she didn't bother to add up their age difference until tabloids started to comment on it. The two first met in 1985 when Patricia was 26 and Gene was 73. At the time, she was working on a documentary about the Smithsonian Museum, and he was serving as the host. Patricia said that she didn't know he was a famous actor, and only learned who he was after she'd worked with him for several weeks.

Six months later, Gene invited Patricia to his home and asked her to help him write his memoir. Patricia has been outspoken about the fact that Gene didn't want a biopic made about his life, and there is now one in production. Even though Gene has been dead for nearly 30 years, Patricia has never remarried and still seems dedicated to her former husband.

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