biography

Born Bridget Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly to Irish immigrant parents on January 12, 1910, in Brooklyn, New York, actress Patsy Kelly became a well-respected entertainer during the 1920s when she was a teenager. Working with comedian Frank Faye, dancing and comedy became her forte in vaudeville, which led to her Broadway debut in 1927 in Harry Delmar's Revels at the Shubert Theatre. Her biggest splash on the stage came in the hit revue Earl Carroll's Vanities in 1930 and 1931. With a couple of Vitaphone shorts under her belt, Kelly left her native Brooklyn in 1933 to find her fortune in Hollywood. Already successful in stage productions, Kelly signed with Hal Roach, who cast her in place of ZaSu Pitts in the comedy two-reelers he was making which also starred Thelma Todd. These shorts were as good as anything that Roach's team Laurel and Hardy appeared in and represented some of Kelly's finest screen work; the best were the hilarious Done in Oil (1934) and the equally funny Top Flat (1935), released just days after Thelma Todd was found dead in December 1935. Devastated by her friend's death, Kelly nonetheless continued starring in Roach's shorts with Lyda Roberti, moving into feature films in the 20th Century Fox romance Private Number (1936; with Robert Taylor, Loretta Young, and Basil Rathbone), in which Kelly portrays Young's wisecracking best friend. Kelly continued in such second-banana roles through the early 1940s, supporting such stars as Marion Davies in her final film Ever Since Eve (1937; with Marion Davies and Robert Montgomery), Constance Bennett in Merrily We Live (1938; with Constance Bennett and Brian Aherne), and Joan Blondell in Topper Returns (1941; with Joan Blondell and Roland Young).

Patsy Kelly and Thelma ToddPatsy KellyPatsy Kelly and Alan StephanPatsy Kelly

LEFT: Thelma Todd was Patsy Kelly's comedy partner in Hal Roach shorts until her untimely death in December 1935. CENTER A: Late 1930s 20th Century-Fox portrait. CENTER B: Campy 1940s photo of Patsy Kelly with Mr. America 1946 Alan Stephan. RIGHT: Early 1950s photo of Patsy Kelly, at about the time of her career revival

Kelly made no secret of being a lesbian, and combined with her increasing use of alcohol and erratic public behavior (Kelly was frequently ejected from nightclubs after one too many drinks), by the early 1940s she was reduced to working in PRC's bargain-basement productions such as My Son, the Hero (1943; with Roscoe Karns and Carol Hughes) and Danger! Women at Work (1943; with Mary Brian and Wanda McKay). In 1943, she left Hollywood to return to New York. With her career in rapid decline and in need of work, Kelly eventually signed on as Tallulah Bankhead's caretaker and erstwhile lover. Bankhead returned the favor in the 1950s, helping Kelly resume her acting career.

the films of patsy kelly

The Grand Dame (1931)

Patsy Kelly

Kelly in her first film role, the Warner Bros. comedy short The Grand Dame, shot in New York

The Girl from Missouri (1934)

Jean Harlow, Patsy Kelly, and Franchot Tone

From the MGM romantic comedy The Girl from Missouri with Jean Harlow and Franchot Tone

Every Night at Eight (1935)

Alice Faye and Patsy Kelly

With Alice Faye in the Paramount musical comedy Every Night at Eight

Pigskin Parade (1936)

Patsy Kelly and Jack Haley

With Jack Haley in the 20th Century-Fox musical Pigskin Parade

Sing, Baby, Sing (1936)

Ted Healy and Patsy Kelly

From the 20th Century-Fox musical Sing, Baby, Sing with Ted Healy

Ever Since Eve (1937)

Patsy Kelly and Marion Davies

From the Warner Bros. comedy Ever Since Eve with Marion Davies. This was Davies' final film

Pick a Star (1937)

Jack Haley and Patsy Kelly

With Jack Haley in the Hal Roach musical comedy Pick a Star

Wake Up and Live (1937)

Patsy Kelly and Ned Sparks

From the 20th Century-Fox musical Wake Up and Live with Ned Sparks

There Goes My Heart (1938)

Virginia Bruce, Alan Mowbray, and Patsy KellyAlan Mowbray and Patsy Kelly

LEFT: With Virginia Bruce and Alan Mowbray in the Hal Roach romantic comedy There Goes My Heart. RIGHT: With love interest Alan Mowbray

Road Show (1941)

Patsy Kelly and Adolphe Menjou

From the Hal Roach musical comedy Road Show with Adolphe Menjou

Danger! Women at Work (1943)

Wanda McKay, Isabel Jewell, Betty Compson, Cobina Wright Sr., Mary Brian, and Patsy Kelly

From the PRC wartime comedy Danger! Women at Work with Wanda McKay, Isabel Jewell, Betty Compson, Cobina Wright Sr., and Mary Brian

Pete and Gladys (1960-1962 CBS TV Series)

Patsy Kelly and Cara Williams

With series star Cara Williams in a 1962 episode of the CBS situation comedy Pete and Gladys titled The Case of the Gossipy Maid

Vacation Playhouse (1963-1967 CBS TV Series)

Patsy Kelly

From a 1966 episode of the summer replacement series Vacation Playhouse titled My Son, the Doctor

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Patsy Kelly, Ruth Gordon, and Mia Farrow

With Ruth Gordon and Mia Farrow in the Paramount horror film Rosemary's Baby, produced by William Castle

The North Avenue Irregulars (1979)

Patsy Kelly, Virginia Capers, and Barbara Harris

With Virginia Capers and Barbara Harris in the Disney comedy The North Avenue Irregulars. This was Kelly's final film appearance

later years

Kelly restarted her career in New York in the early 1950s, supporting Tallulah Bankhead in her first television appearance on NBC's All Star Revue in 1952 and later in a touring company production of the play Dear Charles, earning acclaim for her work. Continuing to work on stage and in television, Kelly returned to films in 1960 with Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960; with Doris Day and David Niven) and added laughs to the low-budget teen flicks Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966; with Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley) and C'mon, Let's Live a Little (1967; with Bobby Vee and Jackie DeShannon). She also made a surprising appearance in the horror film Rosemary's Baby (1968; with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes). She returned to Broadway in a highly successful revival of No, No, Nanette in 1971 and made her final Broadway bow in Irene during the 1973-1974 season. After a brief mid 1970s television series and appearances in Freaky Friday (1976; with Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster) and The North Avenue Irregulars (1979; with Barbara Harris and Karen Valentine), a 1980 stroke forced Kelly to retire. Sadly, Pasty Kelly died of pneumonia in the Motion Picture and Television County Home Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, on September 24, 1981 at the age of 71. She left no immediate survivors.

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filmography

FILM
The North Avenue Irregulars (1979) with Edward Herrmann, Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Karen Valentine, Michael Constantine, Cloris Leachman, Steve Franken, and Alan Hale Jr.
Freaky Friday (1976) with Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin, Dick Van Patten, Sorrell Booke, Alan Oppenheimer, Ruth Buzzi, and Kaye Ballard
The Pigeon (1969) with Sammy Davis Jr., Dorothy Malone, Victoria Vetri, Ricardo Montalban, and Pat Boone
Rosemary's Baby (1968) with Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Victoria Vetri, Elisha Cook Jr., Emmaline Henry, and Charles Grodin
C'mon, Let's Live a Little (1967) with Bobby Vee, Jackie DeShannon, Eddie Hodges, Suzie Kaye, John Ireland Jr., Russ Conway, Jill Banner, and Kim Carnes
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) with Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Aron Kincaid, Quinn O'Hara, Harvey Lembeck, Francis X. Bushman, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Susan Hart
The Naked Kiss (1964) with Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, and Virginia Grey
The Crowded Sky (1960) with Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Anne Francis, Keenan Wynn, and Troy Donahue
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) with Doris Day, David Niven, Janis Paige, Spring Byington, and Jack Weston
Danger! Women at Work (1943) with Mary Brian, Isabel Jewell, Wanda McKay, and Betty Compson
My Son, the Hero (1943) with Roscoe Karns, Joan Blair, Carol Hughes, and Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom
Ladies' Day (1943) with Lupe Velez, Eddie Albert, Max Baer, and Jerome Cowan
In Old California (1942) with John Wayne, Albert Dekker, Helen Parrish, Edgar Kennedy, and Dick Purcell
Sing Your Worries Away (1942) with Bert Lahr, June Havoc, Buddy Ebsen, and Margaret Dumont
Playmates (1941) with Kay Kyser, John Barrymore, Lupe Velez, May Robson, and Peter Lind Hayes
Broadway Limited (1941) with Victor McLaglen and Dennis O'Keefe
Topper Returns (1941) with Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carole Landis, Billie Burke, Dennis O'Keefe, H.B. Warner, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, and George Zucco
Road Show (1941) with Adolphe Menjou, Carole Landis, Charles Butterworth, and Polly Ann Young
Hit Parade of 1941 (1940) with Frances Langford, Hugh Herbert, Mary Boland, Ann Miller, Phil Silvers, and Sterling Holloway
The Gorilla (1939) with the Ritz Brothers, Anita Louise, Lionel Atwill, and Bela Lugosi
The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) with Gary Cooper, Merle Oberon, Walter Brennan, and Fuzzy Knight
There Goes My Heart (1938) with Fredric March, Virginia Bruce, Alan Mowbray, Nancy Carroll, Eugene Pallette, Arthur Lake, and Robert Armstrong
Merrily We Live (1938) with Constance Bennett, Brian Aherne, Alan Mowbray, Billie Burke, Ann Dvorak, and Bonita Granville
Wake Up and Live (1937) with Alice Faye, Ned Sparks, Jack Haley, and Joan Davis
Ever Since Eve (1937) with Marion Davies, Frank McHugh, Robert Montgomery, Allen Jenkins, and Louise Fazenda
Pick a Star (1937) with Jack Haley, Mischa Auer, Stan Laurel, and Oliver Hardy
Nobody's Baby (1937) with Robert Armstrong
Pan Handlers (1936) with Pert Kelton
Pigskin Parade (1936) with Stuart Erwin, Jack Haley, Betty Grable, Arline Judge, Judy Garland, and Tony Martin
Sing, Baby, Sing (1936) with Alice Faye, Adolphe Menjou, Ted Healy, and the Ritz Brothers
Kelly the Second (1936) with Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Charley Chase, Pert Kelton, and Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom
Private Number (1936) with Robert Taylor, Loretta Young, Basil Rathbone, Joe E. Lewis, and Jane Darwell
Hill-Tillies (1936) with Toby Wing
At Sea Ashore (1936)
All-American Toothache (1936) with Thelma Todd
Top Flat (1935) with Thelma Todd
Hot Money (1935) with Thelma Todd
Thanks a Million (1935) with Dick Powell, Ann Dvorak, and Fred Allen
Twin Triplets (1935) with Thelma Todd
Slightly Static (1935) with Thelma Todd
Page Miss Glory (1935) with Marion Davies, Pat O'Brien, Dick Powell, Mary Astor, Frank McHugh, Lyle Talbot, and Allen Jenkins
Every Night at Eight (1935) with George Raft, Alice Faye, and Frances Langford
The Misses Stooge (1935) with Thelma Todd
Go Into Your Dance (1935) with Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, and Glenda Farrell
The Tin Man (1935) with Thelma Todd
Sing, Sister, Sing (1935) with Thelma Todd
Treasure Blues (1935) with Thelma Todd
Bum Voyage (1934) with Thelma Todd
Done in Oil (1934) with Thelma Todd
Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round (1934) with Gene Raymond, Nancy Carroll, Jack Benny, and Mitzi Green
Opened by Mistake (1934) with Thelma Todd
The Party's Over (1934) with Stuart Erwin, Ann Sothern, Arline Judge, and Chick Chandler
The Girl from Missouri (1934) with Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Franchot Tone, Lewis Stone, and Alan Mowbray
One Horse Farmers (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Three Chumps Ahead (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Patricia 'Patsy' Kelly I'll Be Suing You (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Maid in Hollywood (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Roamin' Vandals (1934) with Billy Gilbert
Soup and Fish (1934) with with Thelma Todd
The Countess of Monte Cristo (1934) with Fay Wray
Babes in the Goods (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Air Fright (1934) with with Thelma Todd
Going Hollywood (1933) with Marion Davies, Bing Crosby, Fifi D'Orsay, and Stuart Erwin
Backs to Nature (1933) with with Thelma Todd
Beauty and the Bus (1933) with with Thelma Todd
The Grand Dame (1931)

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
The Love Boat, episode The Critical Success/Love Lamp Is Lit, The/Take My Boy Friend, Please/Rent a Family/Man in Her Life: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired November 10, 1979
The Cop and the Kid, episode The Ballad of Joe, originally aired January 1, 1976
The Cop and the Kid, episode Danger: Men Working, originally aired January 1, 1976
The Cop and the Kid, episode Previous Engagement, originally aired January 1, 1976
The Cop and the Kid, episode Notre Dame by 50, originally aired December 25, 1975
The Cop and the Kid, episode Pilot, originally aired December 4, 1975
Barefoot in the Park, episode Pilot, originally aired September 24, 1970
Love, American Style, episode Love and the Busy Husband/Love and the Dating Computer/Love and the Watchdog, originally aired November 3, 1969
Bonanza, episode A Girl Named George, originally aired January 14, 1968
The Wild Wild West, episode The Night of the Bogus Bandits, originally aired April 7, 1967
Laredo, episode A Question of Guilt, originally aired March 10, 1967
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., episode The Hula Doll Affair, originally aired February 17, 1967
The Wild Wild West, episode The Night of the Big Blast, originally aired October 7, 1966
Vacation Playhouse, episode My Son, the Doctor, originally aired August 22, 1966
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Mr. Cartwheel?, originally aired October 21, 1964
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed WHO IV?, originally aired April 3, 1964
Arrest and Trial, episode Call It a Lifetime, originally aired September 15 1963
Pete and Gladys, episode The Case of the Gossipy Maid, originally aired May 21, 1962
The Dick Van Dyke Show, episode One Angry Man, originally aired March 7, 1962
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Outlaw in Town, originally aired November 15, 1960
The Untouchables, episode Head of Fire: Feet of Clay, originally aired April 21, 1960
Laramie, episode The Legend of Lily, originally aired January 26, 1960
26 Men, episode The Last Kill, originally aired April 28, 1959
Kraft Theatre, episode The Big Break, originally aired July 17, 1957
Lux Video Theatre, episode One Foot in Heaven, originally aired February 3, 1955

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Watch Patsy Kelly in the 1941 Hal Roach musical comedy Road Show
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