David Patrick Kelly

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David Patrick Kelly
Born (1951-01-23) January 23, 1951 (age 65)
Detroit, Michigan, US
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Juliana Francis (2005–present)
Website davidpatrickkelly.com

David Patrick Kelly (born January 23, 1951) is an American actor and musician who has appeared in numerous innovative films and television series. He is widely known for roles such as Luther in the cult 1979 film The Warriors, and another character named Luther in the 1982 Eddie Murphy film 48 Hrs., Sully in the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando, Jerry Horne in Twin Peaks, and T-Bird in the 1994 film The Crow.[1]

Early life[edit]

Kelly was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Margaret Elizabeth (Murphy) and Robert Corby Kelly, Sr., an accountant.[2][3]His father was a Bronze Star recipient for service during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. His grandfather Daniel Murphy was from Lisnashearshane near Cork, Ireland. His great-grand-uncle was Father William Corby, chaplain of the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg and, as detailed in his book Memoir of a Chaplain Life: 3 Years With the Irish Brigade, he subsequently became president of the University of Notre Dame.[citation needed] Kelly was given a mandolin on St. Patrick's Day 1964 by his mother and considers that the greatest influence on his artistic life.[4] As an undergraduate Kelly wrote the lyrics and music for four musicals produced on Detroit stages. They were Lysistrata (from Aristophanes), The World from My Window (based on a book of children's poems), a project based on Gulliver's Travels (in the land of horses) and Home for Silent Clowns, a mime show with songs.[citation needed] Kelly graduated cum laude from the University of Detroit and was also a student of Marcel Marceau and Mira Rostova.[5]



In his debut role of Luther in the 1979 cult film The Warriors, Kelly screeches the famous line, "Warriors...come out to play-ee-ay!!", which he himself improvised.[6] In the hit 1982 film 48 Hrs. starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy director Walter Hill rewrote a role for Kelly and again named the character Luther. Kelly's film credits include the 1985 hit action film Commando, in which he played Sully (a Green Beret-turned-mercenary who is dropped from a cliff by Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of the film's macabre and memorable death scenes), The Crow, as well as Crooklyn, Hammett, Wild At Heart, Dreamscape, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Last Man Standing, Songcatcher, K-PAX, the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, Flags of Our Fathers, John Wick and Chi-Raq. He also appeared in the pioneering video game Ripper. He is currently set to reprise his role as the character Charlie in John Wick: Chapter Two set to be released in 2017 as well.


David Lynch created the character of Jerry Horne on Twin Peaks specifically for Kelly; his many television guest appearances include Miami Vice, Moonlighting, Spenser: For Hire, Ghostwriter, Third Watch, Hack, Kidnapped, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gossip Girl, Louie, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist and Feed the Beast. Kelly also participated in the PBS production of the musical version of Working, which Studs Terkel, author of the source book, hosted; Kelly's role was that of a "copyboy", and his was the first singing voice heard in the selection "I Could've Been..."[citation needed]


On Broadway, Kelly originated the role of Da in Once which was awarded the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1998 he played Feste in the Lincoln Center production of Twelfth Night. Kelly has frequently appeared at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut, starring in the title roles in Woyzeck and Tartuffe, playing Iago in Othello and Hoss in Sam Shepard's Tooth Of Crime. At the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he played the title role in Pirandello's Enrico IV and starred in an adaption of the Yuan dynasty Chinese classic Snow in June. He appeared in four plays by avant-garde master Richard Foreman: Pearls for Pigs, The Mind King, Film Is Evil/Radio Is Good, and The Cure. In 2015 he appeared as Michaud in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Thérèse Raquin alongside Keira Knightley.[7]


As a composer and musician, Kelly participated in New York's rock and cabaret scene playing such legendary venues as Max's Kansas City, Reno Sweeney's, CBGB, and The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club.

In May 2008, he released a CD of his original music titled David Patrick Kelly: Rip Van Boy Man, which contained new songs and live recordings from his club days in 1975.


Kelly played 'Dropshadow' in the David Lynch film "Wild At Heart" which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1990. Kelly sang and played mandolin on the Grammy Award winning soundtrack for the Broadway musical Once. He received a Connecticut Critcs Circle Award for his performance in Tartuffe at Hartford Stage. He was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for his performance in Nathan Louis Jackson"s When I Come To Die at LCT3. In 1998 Kelly received an Obie Award for sustained excellence for his theater work in classics, new plays and the avant-garde.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly married theater actress and writer Juliana Francis at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in New York on August 14, 2005.[5]


External links[edit]