'Singin' in the Rain' Co-Director Stanley Donen Dead at 94

Stanley Donen, the director of countless classics including Singin' In The Rain and Seven Brides [...]

Stanley Donen, the director of countless classics including Singin' In The Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died Saturday. He was 94.

Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips shared the news on Twitter. Donen's death was confirmed by one of his sons.

Donen, who also directed On The Town and Charade, was an influential filmmaker throughout the 1950s, most famous for his collaborations with Gene Kelly. During his life, he was often underrated and never earned a competitive Oscar nomination. In 1998, he received an honorary Oscar "in appreciation of a body of work marked by grace, elegance, wit and visual innovation."

Donen was born in Columbia, South Carolina. In the early 1940s, he moved to New York, where he began choreographing dance numbers. In 1943, he was brought to Hollywood by MGM musicals producer Arthur Freed as a choreographer.

However, his most important early work was choreographing the dance sequences in Columbia Pictures' Cover Girl, the movie that made Kelly a star. The 1944 Rita Hayworth musical famously features a scene where Kelly dances with his own reflection. Its success led Donen to work on other musicals for the studio briefly before returning to MGM.

"Sound was still a fairly new thing when I came into movies," Donen told Vanity Fair in 2013. "And the reason musicals happened is because of sound. They could put music in the picture! That's how it all began."

In 1949, Donen finally got the chance to direct when he and Kelly were given the opportunity to make On The Town at MGM with Frank Sinatra co-starring. That film's success led Donen to direct his first solo film, Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire and Jane Powell.

It was not until 1952 that he worked with Kelly again to bring Singin' In The Rain to the big screen. Although the film was a big success with audiences, it was only nominated for two Oscars, neither of them for Kelly and Donen's work. Today, it is now considered one of the greatest movies ever made.

Donen's first big hit without Kelly was 1954's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The film, famously made with a smaller budget than usually given MGM musicals was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. Once again though, Donen was not nominated himself.

His final collaboration with Kelly was It's Always Fair Weather, a surprisingly serious musical about ex-GIs returning from World War II. It was not a hit, and Donen started working more often outside MGM. He became an independent producer and director by 1957.

Donen's other major films include Funny Face, Charade and Two for the Road with Audrey Hepburn, Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, The Pajama Game with Doris Day, Bedazzled and Damn Yankees!. His final film was 1984's Blame It On Rio with Michael Caine.

Donen was married five times and had three children. In 1999, he began dating Elaine May, but they never married.

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