After starting out as a Broadway hoofer in the 1940s, director/choreographer Stanley Donen decided to try movies and went on to work with the greatest dancers and helm several of the most highly regarded musicals to emerge from classical Hollywood. Even after he left the musical genre, Donen's smooth touch earned him several 1960s hits, but his career slowed down in the 1970s and 1980s after several decades in the business.
Born in South Carolina, Donen an dancing as a child. Making his Broadway debut at 16 in the chorus of Pal Joey, Donen soon began a fruitful collaboration with the show's star, Gene Kelly, assisting with the choreography for the show Best Foot Forward in 1941. Following Kelly's lead, Donen then headed to Hollywood, repeating his jobs as assistant choreographer and chorus dancer in the film version of Best Foot Forward (1943). Donen worked steadily as a choreographer for the rest of the decade, including on Kelly's Cover Girl (1944) for Columbia.