Jean Louisa Kelly

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Jean Louisa Kelly
Kelly in October 2009
BornMarch 9, 1972 [1] [2]
EducationColumbia University (BA)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1989–present
Notable workUncle Buck (1989)
Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)
Yes, Dear (2000–06)
(m. 1997)

Jean Louisa Kelly is an American actress and singer. After making her film debut as Tia Russell in Uncle Buck (1989) alongside John Candy, she appeared in a wide range of other films including The Fantasticks (1995) and Mr. Holland's Opus (1995). From 2000 to 2006, she portrayed Kim Warner on the CBS sitcom Yes, Dear.[3]


Her first professional paying job was as a kid, starring in "Annie" at the Theater by the Sea in Mantunuck, Rhode Island. She reprised her "Annie" role the following summer at the Candlewood Playhouse in Fairfield, Connecticut.[4] Before attending college, she already had roles in the original Broadway cast of Sondheim's Into the Woods (as Snow White) at the age of 15[4] and understudy to Rapunzel and Little Red Ridinghood, and as Tia Russell in the film Uncle Buck with John Candy. She also took roles in college productions, including with the Barnard College Gilbert and Sullivan Society.[5]

In the mid-1990s, after graduating from Columbia University, Kelly became well known for a series of television commercials she did for MCI long distance,[6] in which she played a telephone operator who challenged AT&T. In 1995, she starred as Luisa in the musical film The Fantasticks with Joey McIntyre and Joel Grey, although the film was shelved until 2000. The same year, she appeared as Rowena Morgan, the muse for the title character of Mr. Holland's Opus. In the 1990s, other films followed, including “Origin of the Species,” “The Day Lincoln was Shot” and Landfall (2001). Kelly appeared Off Broadway at the York Theatre in the title role in Paul McKibbins and B.T. McNicholl's The It Girl, based on the 1927 movie It. She also appeared in the York's "Musicals in Mufti" series as Lois Lane in It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman.

In 1996, Kelly voiced the title role in the second season of the animated series Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders. After several made-for-TV movies, Kelly's broadest exposure came from her roles in situation comedies, first guest starring in such shows as Mad About You, and then as a cast member of the short-lived NBC version of Cold Feet. From 2000 to 2006, she starred as Kim Warner on the long-running sitcom Yes, Dear. In 2006 she guest starred in the ABC drama Grey's Anatomy. After her series ended, she guest starred on numerous television shows and starred in movies of the week. She recurred as Bernice Pope in the Yahoo production of Sin City Saints.

She played opposite William Fichtner in the movie “The Neighbor” and opposite John Diehl in “Out of the Wild” in 2015. In 2019 she played opposite Bradley Whitford in “Call of the Wild,” and played Jane Doe/Serena May in the James Wan movie “Malignant."[7]

She released an album of children's music called Color of Your Heart in 2013.[8][9] In 2015, she released a five-song EP called Willing,[10] and in 2017 she released an album titled "For My Folks", which features a collection of standards.[11]

Kelly appears as Sarah Kazansky - wife of Val Kilmer's character Tom "Iceman" Kazansky - in the 2022 action drama movie Top Gun: Maverick.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of J. Joseph Kelly III and Wendy Kelly.[5][13] Her father was a high school English teacher, and her mother taught piano. She grew up on Linden Street, off Central Street, in Boylston, MA,[4] eventually moving to Maryland when she was a junior in high school,[14] and attended Easton High School in Easton, Maryland.[6] In 1994, Kelly graduated from Columbia University's Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.[5]

In 1997, she married James Pitaro.[13] They have two children.

She is close friends with Jennifer Garner,[15] having hosted the baby shower for Garner's daughter Violet Anne Affleck and interviewed Garner for Self magazine in 2005.[16][17]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 Uncle Buck Tia Russell
1992 American Shaolin Maria
1995 The Fantasticks Luisa Bellamy
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Rowena Morgan
1998 Origin of the Species Laura
1999 A Stranger in the Kingdom Athena Allen
2001 Landfall Marguerite Harris
2003 Little Red Light Amanda Meyer Short film
2010 Locked Away Chloe
2010 Public Access Nancy Short film
2011 Lego Hero Factory: Savage Planet Waspix Voice
2014 1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story Tina Weissman Video
2014 Zoe Gone Detective Patricia Henderson
2015 Ant-Man Buyer
2017 The Neighbor Lisa
2017 The Bachelors Barbara Weston
2019 Out of the Wild Jessie King Drama, Western Movie
2020 The Call of the Wild Katie Miller
2021 Malignant Serena May / Jane Doe
2022 Top Gun: Maverick Sarah Kazansky


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Breathing Lessons Daisy Movie
1994 One More Mountain Mary Graves Movie
1995 Tad Julia Taft Movie
1996 Harvest of Fire Rachel Movie
1996 Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders Princess Gwenevere (voice) Main role (10 episodes)
1997 Homicide: Life on the Street Sarah Langdon Episode: "Kaddish"
1997 Stolen Women: Captured Hearts Sarah White Movie
1998 Ruby Bridges Jane Coles Movie
1998 The Day Lincoln Was Shot Lucy Lambert Hale Movie
1998 Law & Order Coral Galvin Episode: "Scrambled"
1998/99 Mad About You Diane 3 episodes
1999 The Cyberstalking Holly Moon Movie
1999 Cold Feet Shelley Sullivan Main role (8 episodes)
2000–06 Yes, Dear Kim Warner Main role (122 episodes)
2001 Ally McBeal Lisa Episode: "The Ex-Files"
2006 Grey's Anatomy Rose Ward Episode: "Blues for Sister Someone"
2008 Ghost Whisperer Jennifer Quinlan / Nora Sutherland Episode: "First Do No Harm"
2008 Eli Stone Julie Lazer Episode: "Heal the Pain"
2008 Gary Unmarried Beth Episode: "Gary and Allison Brooks"
2009 Surviving Suburbia Melissa Mann Episode: "Desperate Housewife"
2009 The Three Gifts Cherie Green Movie
2010 The Glades Becky Episode: "A Perfect Storm"
2010 Burn Notice Emily Episode: "Blind Spot"
2010–13 Hero Factory Natalie Breez / Operator Recurring role; 6 episodes
2011 Paul the Male Matchmaker Darla 2 episodes
2011 CSI: Miami Amy Wells Episode: "Stoned Cold"
2012 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Sheila DeMarcus Episode: "Code Blue Plate Special"
2013 Chance at Romance Roz Hallmark Channel TV movie
2013 The Good Mother Rachel Television movie
2014 Zoe Gone Det. Patricia Henderson Lifetime television movie
2015 Sin City Saints Bernice Pope Yahoo Studios
2015 Scream Queens Delight Ulrich Episode:"The Final Girl(s)"
2017 Can't Buy My Love Veronica Movie
2017 Major Crimes Tori Duncan Episode;"Bad Blood"
2017 Outcast Therapist 2 episodes
2017 Law & Order True Crime Marzi Eisenberg Episode: "The Menendez Murders: Episode 1"
2018 Wisdom of the Crowd Mrs. Bullock Episode: "The Tipping Point"
2018 The Fosters Pastor Nicole 2 episodes


  1. ^ "Jean Louisa Kelly". Editors, Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  2. ^ "Jean Louisa Kelly". Editors, Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  3. ^ "Yes Woman". Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Boylston native Jean Louisa Kelly takes Iceman's breath away in 'Top Gun: Maverick'". Craig S. Semon, Worcester Magazine. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c "About Me". Archived from the original on February 15, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "College Grad Is Someone to Watch", Columbia University Record, Vol. 21, No. 19, March 8, 1996. archived March 21, 2007
  7. ^ "A Life of Song: Jean Louisa Kelly on Her Career, Inspirations and New EP!". Icon vs. Icon. April 13, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "iTunes - Music - Color of Your Heart by Jean Louisa Kelly". iTunes. May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "'Yes, Dear' Actress Jean Louisa Kelly Branches Into Music With Charming Children's Collection". November 22, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  10. ^ "iTunes - Music - Willing EP by Jean Louisa Kelly". iTunes. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "iTunes Store for album". October 27, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 2, 2018). "'Top Gun: Maverick' Sets Final Seven For Cast, Including Kara Wang As A Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Jean Louisa Kelly, James A. Pitaro". New York Times. May 25, 1997. Archived from the original on August 31, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  14. ^ "Interview with Actress Jean Louisa Kelly from 'Uncle Buck'". editors, Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  15. ^ Laura. "Actress Jean Louisa Kelly gives birth to second child – a daughter". People. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  16. ^ "Jennifer Garner's Baby Shower" (PDF). US Weekly. November 7, 2005.
  17. ^ "Jennifer Garner". Self Magazine. No. July 2005.

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