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Paula Kelly (actress)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paula Kelly
Kelly in 1977
Paula Alma Kelly

(1942-10-21)October 21, 1942
DiedFebruary 8, 2020(2020-02-08) (aged 77)
EducationJuilliard School of Music
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
  • choreographer
Years active1964–2008
(m. 1985; died 1990)

Paula Alma Kelly (October 21, 1942 – February 8, 2020)[1][2] was an American actress, singer, dancer and choreographer in films, television and theatre. Kelly's career began during the mid–1960s in theatre, making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Veloz in the 1964 musical Something More!, alongside Barbara Cook. Kelly's other Broadway credits include The Dozens (1969), Paul Sills' Story Theatre (1971), Ovid's Metamorphoses (1971), and Sophisticated Ladies (1981), based on the music of Duke Ellington, appearing with Gregory Hines and Phyllis Hyman.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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Early life and education

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Kelly was one of three daughters born to Ruth and Lehman Kelly,[3] a jazz musician.[4] By age six, Kelly's family had relocated to Harlem neighborhood of New York City. For high school, Kelly attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, majoring in music. Kelly continued her studies at the Juilliard School of Music, where she majored in dance under Martha Hill. Graduating in 1964 with an M.S. degree, Kelly performed as a soloist with major modern dance companies such as Martha Graham, Donald McKayle, and Alvin Ailey.


Angie Dickinson and Kelly in an episode of the NBC TV series Police Woman, 1976.

Kelly performed as guest artist and sometimes assistant choreographer for numerous television musical specials, including Sammy and Friends (starring Sammy Davis, Jr.); co-choreographer of the BBC production of Peter Pan, in which she also performed the role of Tiger-Lily; Quincy Jones' TV tribute to Duke Ellington, We Love You Madly; The Richard Pryor Show; and Gene Kelly's New York, New York, in which the two Kellys performed a duet.

Kelly performed a dance solo at the 41st Academy Awards for the nominated title song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). She appeared on the London stage in Sweet Charity with dancer and actress Juliet Prowse, for which Kelly won the London Variety Award for Best Supporting Actress. She starred in the record-breaking west coast premiere of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope at the Mark Taper Forum, for which she was awarded the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, Variety, and the first of three NAACP Image Awards.[5]

Paula Kelly (third from right) in Sweet Charity (1969). Chita Rivera is second from right.

Kelly's film credits include the Bob Fosse-directed film Sweet Charity; Soylent Green; The Spook Who Sat by the Door; The Andromeda Strain; Uptown Saturday Night; Lost in the Stars, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling; Drop Squad; and Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored.

Kelly had a regular role as Liz Williams on the first season of the sitcom Night Court, for which she received an Emmy Award nomination. Kelly also guest-starred in a variety of television movies and sitcoms, including Sanford and Son, Kojak, Police Woman, Golden Girls, Good Times, Any Day Now and in the Oprah Winfrey-produced TV mini-series The Women of Brewster Place (based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Gloria Naylor), in which she portrayed one half of a lesbian couple (with Lonette McKee) struggling against homophobia in an inner-city ghetto. Kelly was nominated for a second Emmy for her role in The Women of Brewster Place.

Personal life and death

On September 15,[citation needed] 1985, Kelly married British film director Don Chaffey.[6] Chaffey died in November 1990.[7]

Her partner since 2003 was George Parkington.[6]

Kelly died of heart failure on February 8, 2020, at age 77.[6]



Year Title Role
1969 Sweet Charity Helene
1971 The Andromeda Strain Karen Anson
1972 Cool Breeze Martha Harris
1972 Top of the Heap Black Chick
1972 Trouble Man Cleo
1973 Soylent Green Martha
1973 The Spook Who Sat by the Door Dahomey Queen
1974 Three Tough Guys Fay
1974 Lost in the Stars Rose
1974 Uptown Saturday Night Leggy Peggy/Mrs. Lincoln
1976 Drum Rachel
1986 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling Satin Doll
1993 Bank Robber Mother
1994 Drop Squad Aunt Tilly
1995 Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored Ma Pearl


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Carol Burnett Show Dance Instructor Episode: "6.22”
1970 The Young Lawyers Wilma Episode: "A Busload of Bishops"
1970 Medical Center Ellie James Episode: "The Rebel in White"
1973 Sanford and Son Olayia Episode: "Lamont Goes African"
1974 Medical Center Ames Episode: "Saturday's Child"
1975 Cannon Cora Bloom Episode: "The Wedding March"
1975 The Streets of San Francisco Carol Episode: "Men Will Die"
1975–77 Police Woman Linda Summers 3 episodes
1976 The Streets of San Francisco A. Chamberlain Episode: "The Thrill Killers: Parts 1 & 2"
1976 Peter Pan Tiger Lily TV movie
1976, 1981 Insight Grace (Holy Ghost),
Vilma Johnson
2 episodes
1977 The Richard Pryor Show Betty 'Satin Doll' Episode: "1.1"
1977 Kojak Janet Carlisle Episode: "The Queen of Hearts Is Wild"
1979 Good Times Dr. Kelly Episode: "Where Have All the Doctors Gone?"
1980 The Cheap Detective Inez Krowder TV short
1981 Trapper John, M.D. Betty Simons Episode: "Straight and Narrow"
1983 Chiefs Liz Watts Miniseries, episode: "Part 3"
1983 Feel the Heat Sally Long unsuccessful television pilot
1984 Night Court Liz Williams Main cast (season 1)
1984 Hot Pursuit Connie Episode: "Portrait of a Lady Killer"
1984–85 Santa Barbara Ginger Jones Recurring role
1985 Hill Street Blues Mrs. Eagleton Episode: "Davenport in a Storm"
1985 Finder of Lost Loves Alice Taylor-Hancock Episode: "Aftershocks"
1986 St. Elsewhere Sylvia Episode: "Cheek to Cheek"
1986 Amen Leona Episode: "Rolly Falls in Love"
1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin Cassy TV movie
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Lt. Lois Poole Episode: "Kung Fu: The Next Generation"
1987 The Golden Girls Marguerite Brown Episode: "The Housekeeper"
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Theresa Miniseries
1989 Mission: Impossible Pepper Leveau Episode: "Bayou"
1990 American Playhouse unknown Episode: "Zora Is My Name!"
1991 Baby Talk Claire 3 episodes
1992 Room for Two Diahnn Boudreau 2 episodes
1994 South Central Sweets 4 episodes
1995 University Hospital Dr. Leslie Bauer Episode: "Shadow of a Doubt"
1996 Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story Mrs. Devers TV movie
1999 Any Day Now unknown Episode: "Family Is Family"


  1. ^ Paula Kelly Dies: ‘Night Court’ & ‘Women Of Brewster Place’ Emmy Nominee Was 77 (Deadline. com February 2020)
  2. ^ Paula Kelly, Who Danced From Stage Onto the Screen, Dies at 77 (NY Times February 12, 2020)
  3. ^ "Paula Kelly". IMDb. Retrieved July 7, 2022. Open access icon
  4. ^ Burrell, Walter (April 20, 1968). "Paula Kelly Is Star Bound". The Pittsburgh Courier. The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 13. Retrieved October 13, 2015 – via Open access icon
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ a b c Smith, Harrison (2020-02-10). "Paula Kelly, Emmy-nominated actress, dancer and singer, dies at 77". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2022-11-09.
  7. ^ Staff writers (1990-11-19). "Don Chaffey; Directed Films, TV, Disney Features". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2019-11-09.

External links

This page was last edited on 31 May 2024, at 03:10
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