Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gene Kelly: Paula Abdul's American Idol

Long before Paula Abdul ever judged a contestant on "American Idol", she was a pop star herself. One of her commercial endorsements was for Diet Coke, in which she danced along with Gene Kelly from his appearance in Anchors Aweigh. Both Cary Grant and Groucho Marx also "appeared" in the commercial. But of the three stars, Paula considers Gene Kelly to be her idol. According to interviews, she first saw Singin' in the Rain at the age of 4, and she decided she wanted to be a performer.

When she began to fulfill that dream, Paula claims that Gene influenced her choreography. For the video to one of her first hits, "Opposites Attract", she created an animated character to dance with a la Joe Brady's dance with Jerry the Mouse. Gene saw the video and enjoyed it, and he asked Paula to have tea with him. According to an interview in Teen People magazine in May, 2006, Paula describes their meeting:
When I met him, it was as if I'd known him my whole life. We talked like two dancers talk; it's a language where you go back and forth really quickly. I remember saying to myself, "If I die today, I died meeting my hero."
Paula goes on to say that they had weekly tea parties until Gene passed away in 1996. She calls him "one of the most phenomenal male dancers in history...He took risks, made magic happen on-camera and did most of his own stunts. They broke the mold after him."

We agree, Paula, and how lucky you were to have had Gene for both a tea-partner as well as a virtual dance partner! And now, here's the commercial...

6 comments:

Sandy said...

Wow, I Love It, I Love It, I Love It!! This is good stuff!! She had tea with Gene.....now I am really jealous. She picked my fav. Gene in AA with parts of my fav. "I Begged Her" dance. I must have seen the ad back then, but I don't recall it at all. This is a plus for her in my eyes.

Gene Kelly was always doing something good....wasn't he??

The Gene Scene said...

"Gene Kelly was always doing something good....wasn't he??"

Isn't that what makes Gene our favorite?

Renata said...

that's a great commercial, hadn't seen it, thanks for posting! She also talks about meeting Gene in this interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2DD3vHRhO4

Anonymous said...

I never realised that Paula Abdul had tea with Gene on a regular basis. Lucky lucky lady. Though I know nothing about her at all, living out here in the wilds of England! I never remember the Coke advert registering in my mind either, but that was back in my pre-Gene days - seems a loooong time ago now. Thanks for posting it. It is great fun, unlike the VW ad. which I do remember and hated even though I was not aware of Mr Kelly's talents at the time. I just thought it was disrespectful and not pleasant to watch. I know that Ms. Ward Kelly gave permission for them to do it, saying that Gene would have liked it, but even if that were the case, the thought that the whole thing was made just to sell cars and line pockets is a tiny bit distasteful, to me anyhow. Though i know Gene did lots of adverts, but usually for things he thought worth the bother. The coke advert is clever and witty and technically amazing, all of which Gene must have appreciated, seeing that he was clever, witty and technically amazing too!
I will be adding Paula to my webpage featuring those whom Gene has inspired and encouraged. Can I link back to you Donna? Auntsuzy

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Paula Abdul and Gene Kelly had a picture together. It was a photo shoot. Gene sitting royally in a chair with a cane like a tutor and Paula kneeling below him and admiring him

Anonymous said...

I have not seen this commercial with Gene Kelly, Groucho Marx, and Cary Grant with Paula Abdul in years!