Stanley Donen, Master Of The Musical, Dies At 94 Stanley Donen directed Singin' in the Rain and other famous Hollywood musicals. Donen worked with some of the era's biggest stars to create some of cinema's most adored musicals.
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Stanley Donen, Master Of The Musical, Dies At 94

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Stanley Donen, Master Of The Musical, Dies At 94

Stanley Donen, Master Of The Musical, Dies At 94

Stanley Donen, Master Of The Musical, Dies At 94

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/697615963/697615964" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Stanley Donen directed Singin' in the Rain and other famous Hollywood musicals. Donen worked with some of the era's biggest stars to create some of cinema's most adored musicals.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The master of the musical, filmmaker Stanley Donen, died late last week at the age of 94 years old. He was the last surviving major director of the Classic Hollywood era.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

He was born in Columbia, S.C., where he spent his childhood watching movies. He was inspired by Fred Astaire, one of his favorite actors, and began taking dancing lessons. At age 16, Donen moved to New York City to pursue a career on Broadway, where he eventually met Gene Kelly. They would go on to create landmark movie musicals together, including...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN")

GENE KELLY: (Singing) I'm singin' in the rain. Just singin' in the rain. What a glorious feelin'. I'm happy again.

INSKEEP: You know you want to sing, David. Just go ahead.

GREENE: I do, kind of. But let's move on. In the movie "Royal Wedding," Donen directed his childhood idol, Fred Astaire. And in one famous scene, Astaire seamlessly dances his way along the walls and ceiling of a spinning room, singing this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROYAL WEDDING")

FRED ASTAIRE: (Singing) You're all places that leave me breathless. And, no wonder, you're all the world to me.

INSKEEP: Donen also directed films like "On The Town," "Funny Face" and "Charade." In 1997, he received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. During his speech, he burst out into song and dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STANLEY DONEN: Tonight, words seem inadequate. In musicals, that's when we do a song. So...

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO KEY)

DONEN: (Singing) Heaven.

(LAUGHTER)

DONEN: (Singing) I'm in heaven.

(APPLAUSE)

DONEN: (Singing) And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.

GREENE: He was in his 70s when he was singing that song. Stanley Donen was married and divorced no fewer than five times. He is survived by his partner of 20 years, Elaine May.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN")

DONALD O'CONNOR: Make 'em laugh. Make 'em laugh. Don't you know, everyone wants to laugh? (Laughing). My dad said, be an actor, my son, but be a comical one.

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