Actor DONALD O'CONNOR, best known for his acrobatic role in hit Hollywood musical SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, has died at 78.

The screen star had been in declining health for several years and died of heart failure at a retirement home in Calabasas, California, yesterday (27SEP03).

His dance routines in the film, alongside fellow stars Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, are considered by critics among the best in the history of Hollywood musicals, combining acrobatics, elegance and wit.

In a brief statement, his family says among O'Connor's last words was the following quip: "I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get."

Besides Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor also featured in many 1950s musicals, including CALL ME MADAM, ANYTHING GOES, and THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS.

28/09/2003 10:42