LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The song and dance man who could act and make audiences laugh, Donald O'Connor, died of heart failure Saturday at the age of 78.
O'Connor was a perennial sidekick -- even to a mule -- but for six decades he made it all look easy, even the most challenging dance routines while sharing the screen with Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain."
There was the 1950s series of Francis, the talking mule, movies and there were also television roles. He was given an Emmy for hosting "The Colgate Comedy Hour" but never an Oscar.
Yet the magic and grace he brought to the screen, along with an easy comedic presence, made him an audience favorite during a long career.
"There's No Business Like Show Business," and "Call Me Madam" were among the standouts of his dozens of films.
Less well known was that he composed symphonies and in 1956 conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, United Press International reported.