Summary Information
Title: Gene Kelly Alumni Files
Collection Number: UA.6.3.2
Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Office of Institutional Advancement.

Collection Dates: 1932-1996
Extent: 0.5 linear feet (1 box, 1 photo album and 1 scrapbook)

Language: English

This collection contains materials accumulated by Virginia Nicklas relating to Gene Kelly.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260

Finding aid prepared by Lela J. Sewell (first processed)
Revision Description:
Febrary 2010:
Revision by Marianne Kasica.


Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 23, 1912. Kelly attended St. Raphael School in Morningside and graduated from Peabody High School in 1929. He began his college career in journalism at Penn State University, but returned home after the Crash of 1929 to help with family finances. Kelly then enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh and in 1933 received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics. After initially struggling with his career, Kelly found success and would ultimately be recognized as multi-talented individual excelling at acting, singing, dancing, choreographing, producing, as well as motion picture directing. Two of Kelly’s most acclaimed performances are his roles in "An American in Paris" (1951) and in "Singing in the Rain" (1952). Kelly’s personal life included three marriages; the first to Betsy Blair with whom he had one child (Kerry), a second to Jeanne Coyne with whom he had two children (Bridget and Tim) and, after Jeanne's death, to Patricia Ward.

Gene Kelly died in his sleep at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on February 2, 1996, leaving a legacy of dance, drama, and a host of fans.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This collection contains materials collected by Virginia Nicklas, retired Pitt Stewardship Administrator, relating to the actor and Pitt alumnus, Gene Kelly. The collection is composed of 22 file folders which contain correspondence, news clippings, a scrapbook and a photo album.

Included in the correspondence are several autographs by Mr. Kelly, travel plans to special events hosted by the University, an appeal letter for the Bicentennial campaign and his "star" now located in front of the Student Union. Also included in the collection are several programs from Kelly’s performances as a Pitt student and later as a professional. The photo album includes photos of the luncheon that was given to honor Mr. Kelly as an Distinguished Alumnus as well as some promotional photos. The scrapbook is a personal item created by Ms. Nicklas which contains early projects and news articles of Gene Kelly's career.

Subject Terms

  • Dancers -- United States -- Biography
  • Motion picture actors and actresses -- United States -- Biography

Corporate Names
  • University of Pittsburgh. Office of Institutional Advancement.
  • University of Pittsburgh. -- Alumni and alumnae

Personal Names
  • Kelly, Gene, 1912-1996

  • Advertisements
  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Memorabilia
  • Photographs

  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Virginia Nicklas in June 1993 and June 1996.

Custodial History:

Between the dates of June 22 and June 29 of 1993, approximately 0.3 cubic feet of materials pertaining to the University of Pittsburgh’s most famous alumni, Gene Kelly, was donated to the University Archives by retired Pitt Stewardship Administrator, Virginia Nicklas.

Ms. Nicklas, an avid fan of Mr. Kelly, had been collecting various material on Kelly since 1942. As a member of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, Ms. Nicklas obtained the unique assignment of contacting Mr. Kelly to encourage him to become active in assisting the University in fundraising. As part of her job, Virginia Nicklas came into the acquaintance of Mr. Kelly in 1971. She deposited this collection of materials in the University Archives to document the relationship that developed between the University and Gene Kelly.

Preferred Citation:

Gene Kelly Alumni Files, UA 6.3.2, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was first processed by Lela Sewell in 1997. Substantial revision was done by Marianne Kasica in February 2010.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 Biographical Information -- Gene Kelly

Correspondence: Beebe Kline to Nicklas, Biography October, 22, 1986; Personal History; Who’s Who in America (1968-69); PITT – Gene Kelly – Biographic Summary March (N.D.); Broadway list of productions (1938-48)

Section: Special Events

Folder 2 Honorary Doctorate, October 1961

Gene Kelly Doctor of Fine Arts – October 1961; University Times – Honorary Degrees: A Viable Tradition – February 11, 1971

Folder 3 Irish Nationality Room, 1971

Note: James W. Knox, Chairman of Irish Nationality Room (N.D.); Correspondence: Louis McClelland to Mr. James Hohman, May 18, 1971; Wesley W. Posvar to Gene Kelly May 28, 1971; Alumni Times – Irish Room Committee Honors Gene Kelly – August 1971; Boro News: Celebrity Comes “Home for Scholarship Fete!” – June 9, 1971; University of Pittsburgh News Release – June 1971

Folder 4 Distinguished Alumni Award, 1981

Luncheon Invitation – June 26, 1981; News Release-Announcing Luncheon – June 26, 1981; Text of Remarks From Distinguished Alumni Luncheon – (N.D.); Correspondence: (February – March, May-July, 1981); Guest List and Acceptance List June 1981; Luncheon Menu and details.

Folder 5 Campaign for the Third Century (Kelly Star), 1986-1988

Correspondence: Nicklas and Kelly, 1986-1987; Memo: Posvar to Office of Development, March 23, 1987;

Correspondence: Benard Koperek to Lois McClelland, April 29, 1987;Nicklas to George Borton, May 13, 1987; Nicklas to Kelly – Mary 19, 1987; Nicklas to Koperek, June 9, 1987; Posvar to Kelly (N.D.); Polly Stabile to Nicklas – April 1, 1988;

Itinerary – Gene Kelly; Campaign Event, Chronology At A Glance; Working Note, request for Kelly to view the Benedum;

Campaign Luncheon Guest List, Press Release, Map for suggested location sites for Kelly's Star

Section: Event Correspondence

Folder 6 Appeal Letter, 1986-1993
Folder 7 80th Birthday Celebration, 1992-1993
File 8 Kelly Sculpture, 1992-1993
Folder 9 Correspondence, 1960-1969
Folder 11 Correspondence, 1980-1988
Folder 12 Correspondence, 1990-1992
Folder 10 Correspondence, 1970-1979
Folder 13 Working Notes, Kelly Interview and University Donations
Folder 14 Programs and Flyers, 1932-1991
Folder 15 News Clippings and Advertisements, 1941-1951
Folder 16 News Clippings and Advertisements, 1960
Folder 17 News Clippings and Advertisements, 1970-1979
Folder 18 News Clippings and Advertisements, 1980-1989
Folder 19 News Clippings and Advertisements, 1990-1996
Folder 20 News Clippings and Advertisements

Section: Photographs and Memorabilia

Box 2
Folder 1 Photo Album, 1981

Box 3
Folder 1 Scrapbook, 1942-1971