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- I really don't know why I clicked. I didn't want to be a dancer, I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally.
- Quoted in "Gene Kelly's Musical Memories" by Rex Reed, in The Chicago Tribune (November 29, 1970)
- In the 1930s, when I started, Martha Graham was the only dancer doing anything modern, but she did it all to classical music. I couldn't see myself doing Swan Lake every night, and I wanted to develop a truly American style. The only dancer in the movies at that time with any success was Fred Astaire, but he did very small, elegant steps in a top hat, white tie, and tails.
- Quoted in "Gene Kelly's Musical Memories"
- It's all true. It's true I didn't want to be a dancer. What I really wanted to be was a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then at 14 I discovered girls, and began to study dancing diligently. At that time dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship. Only later did I discover you dance joy. You dance love. You dance dreams. Of course, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost a hell of a shortstop.
- Speaking on March 8, 1985 at the American Film Institute; as quoted in "Hollywood Honors Man Who `Danced Joy'" by Paul Rosenfield, in Los Angeles Times (March 9, 1985)
- Fred Astaire represented the aristocracy, I represented the proletariat.
- Quoted in Vaudeville Old and New, Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman, Donald McNeilly (2004)