‘Singin’ in the Rain’: Debbie Reynolds Had ‘Blood in My Shoes’ Filming the ‘Good Morning’ Tap Dance

It isn’t every day that folks hear about blood on the set of Singin’ in the Rain. However, Debbie Reynolds once explained how she bled into her own shoes while filming the “Good Morning” tap dance sequence. It’s an iconic scene in the classic musical, but a lot of hard work went into making it happen. Reynolds explained just how far she went to get that Singin’ in the Rain scene just right.

Debbie Reynolds shocked Gene Kelly when she was cast in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

'Singin' in the Rain' Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown, Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden, and Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood during 'Good Morning' sequence smiling and linking arms
L-R: Donald O’Connor as Cosmo Brown, Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden, and Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Reynolds played Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain alongside the marvelous Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. She talked about the experience on the Turner Classic Movies YouTube channel. Reynolds recalled the first call she received on the project from MGM Studio Chief Louis B. Mayer. The actor has her story, but Kelly remembered the incident quite differently.

“Mr. Mayer called me and he said, ‘Debbie, you’re going to do this movie Singin’ in the Rain,'” Reynolds recalled. “I said, ‘Yes, sir’ because he’s the boss. He was the head of the whole studio, MGM Studios. Then, Gene Kelly came in and he said, ‘Gene, meet Debbie. She’s going to be your leading lady,’ and he seemed surprised.”

Reynolds continued: “He remembers that he told them that I was going to do it. I think he was telling a story. I think that Mr. Mayer put me in that movie because I was under contract for very little money and I was that little girl. I was a little innocent girl and I think they took a chance, luckily.”

However, Reynolds didn’t just sit around and pat herself on the back for the Singin’ in the Rain role. She put in an abundance of hard work to make the movie just right.

“I worked like a dog, I loved doing it, I was frightened to death, but it turned out all right,” Reynolds said.

Debbie Reynolds bled into her shoes while filming the ‘Good Morning’ tap dance

TCM asked Reynolds about where she established her confidence seen in Singin’ in the Rain among many other projects over the course of her career. They specifically brought up the “Good Morning” dance number, which the actor vividly remembers filming.

“That was a really hard dance program because Gene created it and going over the couch all at the same time,” Reynolds said. “If you don’t hit the couch synchronized exactly then it’s all not any good. But, he shot it like 40 times, but he printed the first take.”

Reynolds recalled a bit of friendly competition between Kelly and actor Fred Astaire on the set.

“He was a very exacting man and he was like Fred Astaire was,” Reynolds recalled. “They had a competition going on. Fred and Gene wanted the first shot in the can, so to speak, in the camera all shot at 8 o’clock in the morning. So, Gene always tried to beat Fred, and so we started that number (singing) ‘Good morning, good morning!’ It was nighttime when we finished and we were really finished.”

However, Reynolds’ feet paid the price for getting the “Good Morning” number just right in Singing’ in the Rain.

Reynolds concluded: “I had blood in my shoes and it was very difficult to do those numbers as fast as they wanted them and as long as they wanted over and over and over.”

Gene Kelly lost his temper with Donald O’Connor while filming ‘Singing in the Rain’ to protect Debbie Reynolds

O’Connor also had a specific memory he recalled to TCM surrounding Singin’ in the Rain‘s “Good Morning” with Reynolds.

“One day, we were doing ‘Good Morning,’ so we’re dancing, (singing) ‘Good morning, good morning! It’s great to stay up late,'” O’Connor said. “Gene says, ‘Donald, will you cut out the fooling around? I’ve got all this work to do, I’ve got to do the finale number and everything. Just cut it out. Get to work.’”

O’Connor continued: “I looked around to see who he was talking to and it was me! So, I just said. ‘Okay.’ Again, I thought he lost his mind. That evening, we had a favorite watering hole at that time right across from the studio. I was in there with a couple of friends and Gene came in.”

“He said, ‘Donald, I’m so sorry I yelled at you, but Debbie just hasn’t been able to get these steps,'” O’Connor remembered. “‘If I had yelled at her, I ran the risk of losing her from the rest of the film. I couldn’t take that chance, so I took it out on you instead.’ I said, ‘All right, but you better protect yourself next time’ (Laughs).”

The Reynolds-starring Singin’ in the Rain celebrates its 70th anniversary on April 11.

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