Kerry Kelly Novich shared his memories of growing up with the iconic Hollywood icon
Kerry Kelly Novich was raised in Hollywood by one of Hollywood’s most famous stars – but she insists that her childhood was “ordinary.”
Gene Kelly was a beloved song-and dance star who appeared in films such as “Singin’ in the Rain”, “On the Town,” and “An American In Paris.” died at the age of 83 in 1996. His successful Hollywood career spanned half a century and he appeared in 45 films. He is revered today as a pioneer of film-based dance.
Kerry Novich did not follow her father’s path, but she created a career that honors his love for family. She is a psychoanalyst for children, adolescents, and adults with more than 55 years of experience. Recently, she and her husband teamed up to create “Emotional muscle: Strong parents, Strong children,”, which she stated is directed towards “parents and grandparents” and “teachers.”
Fox News interviewed Kerry Novich about his childhood with the star, his time in the Navy and how he feels about Hollywood.
Fox News: When did you realize your father was different than other dads?
Kerry Kelly Novick One thing I learned growing up in Beverly Hills was that nearly everyone’s father or mom worked in the show business. It wasn’t that different.
It was more of an awareness that not everyone’s parents are famous. It didn’t feel any different because it was so common where I grew, however. My father was also very ordinary. My father and I would get bagels together and then go to the hardware shop. My mom and me would go to the library. Our lives were quite ordinary.
Fox News: What was it like growing-up with Gene Kelly?
Kelly Novick He was a great dad, who was always available to me and my siblings. He was active and fun. He was very involved in schoolwork. He also enjoyed playing with us.
Fox News What’s your favorite memory of your father?
Kelly Novick There are many. One thing that comes to my mind is when I was very little. I was probably around four or five years old. Our family had a routine. He would always take a big red leather chair and pick something from the encyclopedia for us to read whenever he returned home after dinner. This is how I learned to read. He made learning fun and enjoyable for all of us.
Fox News Your father enlisted in Navy. What impact did this experience have on your father?
Kelly Novick He enlisted because his number was up. He then went to boot camp in San Diego. He then did basic training and boxed. He was assigned to the film unit that produced training films for Navy personnel. He continued to make training films until the end, including how to assemble and disassemble a rifle and other such things.
He made the most important training film, “Combat Fatigue Irritability”. He partially directed the film. It talks about “combat fatigue and irritability,” formerly known as “shell shock”. Nowadays, it’s PTSD. It examined the effects of combat experience on sailors and soldiers. It also examined the various types of treatment they received. This movie was powerful for its time and can be found at National Library of Medicine along with John Ford’s similar.
Fox News It seems that mental health was not something that was talked about or understood today.
Kelly Novick It was, I believe, in some circles. My parents were very intellectual and avant-garde. They were also aware of mental health issues. To entertain young men in recovery, my father used to visit veteran’s hospitals. Everyone was aware of the importance of mental health. My father’s video was fascinating to me, as I am a mental health professional.
Fox News What was the father-son relationship like with other servicemen?
Kelly Novick It was great. My father was raised in a small family in Pittsburgh’s working-class neighborhood. He was a normal person. He was a good friend to all of the soldiers. It was also the cause that he lost his best friends in combat.
Fox News: What are some surprising facts about Gene Kelly?
Kelly NovickHis college education was in economics. He was a minor in political science, and had a deep interest in American politics and history. He is often portrayed as an athletic, carefree dancer in the public eye. In private, he was an intellectual and was always interested in learning.
Fox News It seems like your parents were not the “movie star” type.
Kelly Novick Both were dancers but were also hard-working. They weren’t able to just relax and enjoy the company of professional athletes. They were raised in hardworking families, where every member of the family had a job and a responsibility. Since he was in college, my father supported his family. Two dance schools were run by his family in Pennsylvania. My grandfather lost his job during the Depression. The family was supported by the dance schools. My mother was a teacher and took care of the family.
Although they were successful in Hollywood, my father knew that he would have a different kind of life. They didn’t want me becoming a millionaire when I was born. I was given chores and a small amount of money. Our Hollywood family was very different. My parents hosted activities such as softball, volleyball, and ping-pong on weekends. They would play charades at night and sing around the piano.
They would show a movie on Sunday nights in the living room using a 16-millimeter projector. I was 11 years old when I first learned to use the projector. I was proud of it. They believed in the value of hard work but also appreciated the importance family. They were creative and fun friends, who enjoyed spending time with us.
Fox News Did your father teach you how to dance?
Kelly Novick *Laughs* He offered to teach me. He taught me one lesson, and then said that I needed to practice every day if he wanted to continue the lessons. I didn’t practice. He stopped learning the lessons. This was evident in his work ethic.
Fox News: Was Judy Garland a close family friend?
Kelly Novick She was. My dad and she were close friends. He was very grateful to Judy, I believe. He was already a star in Hollywood when he brought her to Hollywood. He said that she taught him how to act in movies. He learned from her the importance of using facial expressions and small gestures to communicate a feeling. He was always welcomed and treated with kindness by her. That was something he never forgot. They danced and sang together all their lives. They were best friends until her death. Judy and her family were a big part of my childhood.
Fox News What were your father’s last years like?
Kelly Novick It was a career shift. He began to direct and make cameo appearances in the studio system. My sister and brother were left behind by my stepmother, who died at the age of nine and seven. My dad decided to stop filming on location. He wouldn’t make it if he couldn’t bring his kids.
At that point, I was a grown-up and living in England. He was a single parent, and he made the professional decision that he would stay home to care for his siblings. His later years were filled with devotion. He was a great caretaker for my sister and brother. He was also a mentor for many young artists. He was always available to give career advice, and possibly personal advice such as that of Paula Abdul or Michael Jackson. It was a joy for him.
Fox News You’ve worked with families and children for a while. What inspired you to take up this job, and not Hollywood?
Kelly Novick I have always been interested in taking care children. As a child, I babysat a lot. After college, I worked briefly in costume design and as a costume supervisor. After college, I went back to school to train as a child psychoanalyst at Anna Freud London.
It was a constant thread. My father was very interested in children. He was a teacher, and one of his grandmothers was also a teacher. The family was known for being sensitive to children’s needs. My father made films with children in nearly every film. He was proud of me. He believed in me and was proud of me. He would respond, “I trust your decision.” This is what you should do if it’s what you really want.
Fox News: What’s your life like today?
Kelly NovickIt is fantastic. I have three children and nine grandchildren. My career is still very active. My husband and me write books together. Both of us are psychoanalysts, so we do a lot teaching. I am 79 years old and happy, healthy, and active.
Fox News How did your father feel about Hollywood before his death?
Kelly Novick He was proud of his work. He was grateful for the continued appreciation of his work, particularly towards the end. He once said to me that he just wanted people to be happy. He succeeded, I believe. His films are a reminder of the joys of creativity. People may not be able to suddenly dance and sing as they walk down the street. However, the idea that we all have this ability is a strong reason we still love his films.