This is from Michael Crawford’s Best Selling Autobiography, Parcel Arrived Safely: Tied with String (Available on Amazon.com)
In 1967, Michael Crawford was appearing In Black Comedy in London when he had the good fortune to meet Roger Edens, who came backstage one night to meet Michael and talk about his latest project. Roger Edens had just been named associate producer for the 20th Century Fox film production of Hello, Dolly!
Michael was asked to go with Dick Lester to San Francisco to promote How I Won the War, which had been selected to open the 1967 San Francisco Film Festival, and it was arranged that he should meet Gene Kelly during his three day stay in California. Just the anticipation of meeting that great American dancer was enough to tie Michael in knots. According to his autobiography, he was turned completely upside down and inside out. He still has the piece of paper that was waiting for him when he arrived at the hotel, “Gene Kelly called. Will call later.” GENE KELLY CALLED HIM! It was all he could think about. THE Gene Kelly called him, Michael Crawford! He kept phoning down to the operators to have them repeat his messages.
He told them they could send the messages to his room if they liked. Michael’s representative eventually called to let him know that Gene Kelly would be meeting him at the hotel at ten AM the next morning. The next morning, he took a long bath just to kill some time; he was up at six AM. He was ready at ten past seven AM.
He needed something to do. He decided to take another bath…this time in slow motion! By the time he finished, it was quarter past eight.
Still hours to go. He couldn’t have another bath! He also shaved again with nearly disastrous results. He keeps changing his clothes over and over again, trying to figure out what is RIGHT for Mr. Kelly. He only has three sets of clothes. He was still changing when the doorbell rang. Now, he was in a checked jacket, floral shirt and striped trousers, nothing going with anything. He stuttered at the sight of Gene Kelly. He invited him in and Gene Kelly never took his eyes off of him. He stuttered for Gene Kelly to sit down after he was already sitting. Gene Kelly said, “Let’s cut the small talk.”Michael had not even said anything. The first thing Mr. Kelly asked him was if he could dance. He tried to answer nonchalantly, but it backfired. His arm fell off of the back of the sofa and bounced off of his knee. Michael didn’t know how to tell Mr. Kelly that he had not danced a step in his life. He told him that he was not known for his dancing. When Mr. Kelly asked him what he WAS known for, he answered, “Nothing, really.” Then Mr. Kelly asked Michael to give him a few steps. “Just get up and do something.” He made excuses. He hadn’t had breakfast yet. He was jet lagged.
Gene Kelly watched attentively as Michael Crawford tried to clumsily repeat what he had seen Gene Kelly do but without much success. Kelly asked him to sit down. “Listen”, he said, “We are casting Cornelius Hackl. He’s an attractive idiot