Nancy Kelly

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Nancy Kelly
Nancy Kelly 1955.JPG
Publicity photograph (1955)
Born (1921-03-25)March 25, 1921
Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died January 2, 1995(1995-01-02) (aged 73)
Bel Air, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1926–1977
Notable work Jesse James, One Night In The Tropics, Tarzan's Desert Mystery, The Bad Seed
Spouse(s) Edmond O'Brien
(m.1941–1942; divorced)
Fred Jackman, Jr.
(m.1946–1950; divorced)
Warren Caro
(m.1955–1968; divorced) 1 child

Nancy Kelly (March 25, 1921 – January 2, 1995) was an American actress. A child actress and model, she was a repertory cast member of CBS Radio's The March of Time and became a movie leading lady in the late 1930s. She made 36 movies between 1926 and 1977, including portraying Tyrone Power's love interest in the classic Jesse James (1939), which also featured Henry Fonda, and playing opposite Spencer Tracy in Stanley and Livingstone later that same year. She had her greatest success in a character role, the suicidal mother in the The Bad Seed, receiving a Tony Award for the 1955 stage production and an Academy Award nomination for the 1956 film adaptation.


Nancy Kelly was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, into a theatrical family. Her mother was silent film actress Nan Kelly, who coached her and managed her career. As a child actress, Kelly appeared in 52 films made on the East Coast by the age of 17.[1] Her younger brother was actor Jack Kelly.[citation needed]

As a child model, her image had appeared in so many different advertisements by the time she was nine years old that Film Daily called her "the most photographed child in America due to commercial posing."[citation needed]

Kelly worked extensively in radio in her adolescent years. She played Dorothy Gale in a 1933 to 1934 radio show based on the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[citation needed] Kelly was the first ingenue on CBS Radio's The March of Time series, with a vocal versatility that made it possible for her to portray male parts as well as female.[1] She also portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt.[2]:434–435

As an adult, she was a leading lady in 27 movies in the 1930s and '40s, including director John Ford's Submarine Patrol, the comedy He Married His Wife with Joel McCrea, Frontier Marshal with Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp, and Tarzan's Desert Mystery with Johnny Weismuller. Kelly was subsequently a two-time winner of the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre as well as a Tony Award winner for her performance in The Bad Seed, which she followed up by starring in the film version in 1956 and receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also starred on television, including leading roles in "The Storm" (1961) episode of Thriller and "The Lonely Hours" (1963) episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1957, Kelly was nominated at the 9th Primetime Emmy Awards#Best Single Performance by an Actress for an Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actress for TV episode "The Pilot" in Studio One.


Kelly's first husband was actor Edmond O'Brien. Her second was Fred Jackman, Jr. son of silent Hollywood cameraman and director Fred Jackman. Her third husband was theatre director Warren Caro. They had a daughter Kelly Caro in 1957.


On her death in 1995 from complications of diabetes, Nancy Kelly was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Nancy Kelly has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.



  1. ^ a b "Nancy Kelly, 73; Actress Lauded for 'Bad Seed'". Oliver, Myrna, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 1995. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  2. ^ Dunning, John, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998 ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3 hardcover; revised edition of Tune In Yesterday (1976)

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