That Certain Something: A Tribute to Gene Kelly

Originally posted at Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Nearly everyone in my dream lover pantheon is tall, with just a few exceptions. Only a couple so far, I think, are what I’d actually call short—under 5′ 9″. I just enjoy looking up at a man by a nice 4 or 5 inches or more. And it can be said that a man’s height often has bearing on his personality—I’m more attracted to a tall bearing, so there it is. But let’s face it;  some of these guys were just really tasty eye candy. How many of them could I say I truly admire? Ten? If so, here’s one who definitely belongs on that list, even though his chin would probably rest just above mine.

When you encounter a man who stands tall no matter the length of his frame—no slouching and folding himself up to be less noticeable if he’s of a great height, no anxious Napoleonic giddiness to make up for a lack of stature if he isn’t—it’s usually because he’s completely self-aware, at ease with himself, and with you as well. It’s impossible to not take notice of such a man. When I was a kid we often referred to that quality as “je ne sais quois,” but honestly, often you do know just what that certain something is. It’s not mysterious or ineffable. It’s an inner strength, expressed externally in this way and that.

Sometimes it’s expressed in a long beautiful jawline, set just so.


Sometimes it’s expressed in his ability to defy gravity by the sheer force of his will.


Maybe it’s simply that he knows exactly what you want and exactly how to give it to you.


There can never be “another Gene Kelly,” and that’s not something that can be overstated. Whoever the next guy is, who stands tall in a crowd of lanky models, who can throw himself around a room with grace, elegance and humor, who can demonstrate kindness and yearning and bitterness all in the same line of dialogue, well, I hope I have the privilege of watching him work his magic. But standing in the same room or on the same set as this guy here is something none of us will ever get to do, and those who did were in the presence of a unique individual.


Born the year Sinatra turned 50, Mer’s interests include but are not limited to classic film and film stars, 1950s-60s jazz and lounge music, mid-century pop culture/design/ephemera, gardening and cooking. “Gene Kelly invades my dreams.” Find Mer as liliales on Twitter, TypePad and Tumblr and look at pretty pictures of it all on beautiful mess.

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  • Michelle

    This was so well written that I don't even know where to begin! Although I've seen these before, the pics still just blow me away, especially pic #3 (OMG!) I've had this "GK affliction" since I was age 10 when I saw Gene in Anchors Aweigh. I immediately recognized Frank Sinatra, although he was really gaunt back then! LOL! But I quickly forgotten him & fixed my attention on the handsome man with the dark hair & eyes topped off with that smile! Oh yes, he was fabulous dancer too! Well, that was it, I was hooked & it has been a wonderful adventure learning about his life & career ever since! Thanks for posting!

    • Mer

      Hey Michelle, thanks for your reply! Those pictures blow me away, too. Gene Kelly had such a vibrance, it just poured through any medium that captured him.