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By the end, Reynolds' feet were bleeding and she could barely move.
Assistants carried her to her dressing room, and doctors put her on bed rest for two days.
After all of that work, Kelly, who was also the film's co-director, ended up selecting the first take for the finished movie.
The fact that Reynolds could keep pace with her co-stars at all is remarkable.
Kelly was 20 years her senior and classically trained in ballet; O'Connor, 27 at the time, was another "triple threat" (actor, singer, and dancer) who had been performing in movies since the age of 12. " I screeched, breaking free of his grasp and spitting.
In 1930, his family started a dance studio on Munhall Road in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. "He showed up on time and worked his little tail off," Kelly once said.Never mind that other partners, like 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds, nearly worked their feet off."Gene always said, 'You choreograph to the woman,' so he choreographed to Debbie's capabilities.... It was the early 1950s, and I was an innocent kid who had never been French-kissed. I was stunned that this thirty-nine-year-old man would do this to me.' During dance rehearsals, she once ducked into one of MGM's rehearsal rooms and sat under a piano crying. If you're not sweating, you're not doing it right." Though it's reported that Reynolds eventually took a perspective of gratitude for everything Kelly had put her through, because it made her a better performer, the exacting director later admitted, "I wasn't very nice to Debbie.You want your partner to look the best he or she can possibly look. Another legendary dancer, Fred Astaire, then in his early 50s, was the one to comfort her.