Kelly McGillis

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Kelly McGillis
Born Kelly Ann McGillis
(1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 59)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Alma mater
Occupation Actress, Film producer, Voice actor, Teacher, Restaurateur
Years active 1983–present
Notable work Witness (1985 film)
Top Gun
Made in Heaven (1987 film)
The Accused (1988 film)
Spouse(s) Boyd Black (m. 1979; div. 1981)
Fred Tillman (m. 1989; div. 2002)
Partner(s) Melanie Leis (2010–2011) civil union, annulled
Children 2
Website Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery

Kelly Ann McGillis (born July 9, 1957)[1] is an American actress. She has found fame for her acting roles in several films since the 1980s including: her role as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, the role of Charlie in the huge blockbuster hit Top Gun (1986) with Tom Cruise, and the role of attorney Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988), with Jodie Foster.

Early life[edit]

Kelly McGillis was born July 9, 1957, in Newport Beach, California, the daughter of Virginia Joan (née Snell), a homemaker, and Dr. Donald Manson McGillis, a general practitioner of medicine.[2][3]

McGillis was raised in Los Angeles, and attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California.[4] After graduating from high school in 1975, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Juilliard School,[5] where she graduated in 1983.[4][6] While at Juilliard she performed in William Congreve's Love for Love, directed by John Bletchley.[7]


Her breakout role was that of an Amish mother in the 1985 film Witness with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations. Her next high-profile role was that of flight instructor Charlie in the 1986 fighter-pilot film Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. After 1988's The Accused, she appeared in Cat Chaser with Peter Weller, a film she despised and which discouraged her from pursuing an acting career.[8][9] McGillis appeared in dozens of television and film roles throughout the 1990s before taking a break from acting for a few years.

In 1992's The Babe, Ms. McGillis plays a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl who becomes Babe Ruth's (played by John Goodman) second wife. She prepared for the role by reading Billie Burke's autobiography about her career with the Follies, "With a Feather on My Nose".[10]

Since her graduation, McGillis has performed live theatre, including classics by Chekov, Shaw, Ibsen, Shakespeare and O’Neill. She has often appeared in starring roles with the Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, DC.[11]

In 2004, she appeared in the stage play The Graduate as Mrs. Robinson, touring the United States.[12] She began working in television again in 2006, then in 2007, she joined the cast of Showtime's The L Word for its fifth season.[13] McGillis starred in a Pasadena Playhouse stage production of Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman in May 2009, co-starring with Julia Duffy.[14]

She had a role in the 2010 vampire film Stake Land,[15] directed by Jim Mickle.[16] She stars alongside Nick Damici, Connor Paolo and Danielle Harris.[17] McGillis was featured in a breast cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, released in 2010.[18]

She also appeared in a production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, which toured the United Kingdom in 2010.[19] She starred in Ti West's 2011 thriller The Innkeepers.[20]

Personal life[edit]

McGillis married fellow Juilliard student Boyd Black in 1979, but the couple divorced in 1981.[21]

In February 1982, McGillis and her live-in girlfriend were assaulted, verbally abused, and raped at knifepoint by two men who broke into their New York apartment. This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her film role as the lawyer who supports Jodie Foster's character in The Accused.[22]

McGillis married Fred Tillman in 1989, and they have two daughters. The couple divorced in 2002.[23]

McGillis came out as a lesbian in April 2009 during an interview with SheWired.[24][25] McGillis said that coming to terms with her sexual orientation has been an ongoing process since age 12, and she was long convinced that God was punishing her for being homosexual with the aforementioned rape incident.[24][25] In 2010, McGillis entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis, a Philadelphia-based sales executive; she and McGillis met in 2000 when Leis was a bartender at the "Kellys' Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery" in Key West, Florida, which McGillis owned with her then-husband Fred Tillman.[26] Leis and McGillis broke up in 2011.

McGillis worked full-time with drug addicts and alcoholics at Seabrook House Drug Alcohol Rehab Center, a rehabilitation center in Bridgeton, New Jersey, when she and Leis shared a home in Collingswood.[27]

McGillis currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches acting at The New York Studio for Stage and Screen NYS3 in Asheville, North Carolina.[28]

McGillis was reportedly assaulted by a stranger who broke into her North Carolina home on June 17, 2016.[29] She said the attack, as well as others she has experienced in the past, has led her to decide to apply for a concealed carry gun permit to protect herself.[30]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Reuben, Reuben Geneva Spofford
1985 Witness Rachel Lapp
1986 Top Gun Charlotte 'Charlie' Blackwood
1987 Made in Heaven Annie Packert / Ally Chandler
1987 Unsettled Land Anda
1987 Santabear's High Flying Adventure Missy Bear (voice) Short
1988 House on Carroll Street, TheThe House on Carroll Street Emily
1988 Accused, TheThe Accused Kathryn Murphy
1989 Winter People Collie Wright
1989 Cat Chaser Mary DeBoya
1989 Rabbit Ears: Thumbelina Storyteller Video short
1991 Grand Isle Edna Pontellier
1992 Babe, TheThe Babe Claire Merritt Ruth
1998 Painted Angels Nettie
1998 Ground Control Susan Stratton
1999 At First Sight Jennie Adamson
1999 Settlement, TheThe Settlement Fake Barbara / Ellie
2000 Monkey's Mask, TheThe Monkey's Mask Prof. Diana Maitland
2001 No One Can Hear You Trish Burchall
2001 Morgan's Ferry Vonnie Carpenter
2007 Supergator Kim Taft
2010 Stake Land Sister
2011 Innkeepers, TheThe Innkeepers Leanne Rease-Jones
2011 What Could Have Been Margaret
2013 We Are What We Are Marge
2013 Tio Papi Elizabeth Warden
2014 Grand Street Isabelle
2015 Blue Ms. Hutcherson
20-- Julie Loves to Gamble Victoria Gardner Announced


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Sweet Revenge Katherine Dennison Breen TV film
1984 One Life to Live Glenda Livingston TV series
1985 Private Sessions Jennifer Coles TV film
1986 Santabear's First Christmas Narrator (voice) TV film
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing Mrs. Joel McKelvey TV film
1993 Bonds of Love Rose Parks TV Film
1994 In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride & Madness Susie Lynch TV film
1995 Dark Eyes Mila McGann Unsold TV pilot
1995 Remember Me adapted from the novel by Mary Higgins Clark Menly Nichols TV film
1995 Out of Ireland Narrator, documentary film PBS film
1996 We the Jury Alyce Bell TV film
1997 The Third Twin Dr. Jean 'Jeannie' Ferrami TV film
1998 Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twister Jamie Marshall TV film
1998 Perfect Prey Audrey Macleah TV film
2000 Wild Thornberrys, TheThe Wild Thornberrys Winema (voice) "Pack of Thornberrys"
2000 Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits Nicole Whitley "Final Appeal: Parts 1 & 2"
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Gorgeous Woman (voice) "Planet of the Lost"
2006 Black Widower Nancy Westveld TV film
2008 L Word, TheThe L Word Col. Gillian Davis "Lesbians Gone Wild", "Lay Down the Law"
2014 Love Finds You in Sugarcreek Bertha Troyler TV film
2014 Z Nation Helen "Sisters of Mercy"
2017 An Uncommon Grace Elizabeth Conner Hallmark Channel


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. ^ "Kelly McGillis Biography (1957-)". 
  3. ^ "Miss Snell Picks Date". Los Angeles Times. December 10, 1955. 
  4. ^ a b Stark, John (February 18, 1985). "Kelly McGillis Plays the Amish Love of Harrison Ford in Witness—and Kisses Waitressing Goodbye". People. 
  5. ^ McGillis, Kelly (November 14, 1988). "Memoir of a Brief Time in Hell". People. 
  6. ^ Cruz, Alicia (May 23, 2011). "'Top Gun' actress Kelly McGillis working for N.J. rehab, enjoying life". 
  7. ^ Stotsky 2000, p. 262.
  8. ^ Hasted, Nick (March 29, 2001). "Kelly McGillis: The star who threw herself to earth". The Independent. Archived from the original on October 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ Davis, Steven Paul (2001). The A-Z of Cult Films and Film-makers. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8704-6. 
  10. ^ Gerstel, Judy (April 26, 1992). "Kelly McGillis takes 'vacation' with 'The Babe'". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Shana Honig Journalism Student, Syracuse University (2012-07-09). "What Does This 'Top Gun' Bombshell Look Like Now?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-12. 
  13. ^ Greg Archer Author, Journalist (2014-05-29). "Kelly McGillis: 'I Have to Be True to Myself'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-12. 
  14. ^ "McGillis, Duffy, Lee, Pierson Are Greedy Brood in Pasadena Little Foxes, Opening May 29 | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-07-12. 
  15. ^ Kelly McGillis a Top Gun in Stake Land
  16. ^ Massive Set Visit Report: A Trip to 'Stake Land'
  17. ^ Badass Stake Land Teaser
  18. ^ "Mcg - Indian Star Rallies Celebrity Support For Cancer Movie", Oct 2009
  19. ^ "Kelly McGillis Net Worth". 
  20. ^ First Images from Ti West's The Innkeepers
  21. ^ Mottram, James (February 21, 2014). "Kelly McGillis: 'I would cameo in Top Gun 2'". The Independent. Retrieved July 12, 2016. McGillis moved to New York in 1979 to study acting at the prestigious Julliard [sic] drama school, the same year she married fellow student Boyd Black. It was short-lived, the couple divorcing in 1981 
  22. ^ Scott, Paul (October 2, 2010). "Revealed: How rape made Top Gun star Kelly McGillis walk away from Hollywood". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  23. ^ Cable, Simon (May 1, 2009). "'I'm a lesbian,' declares Top Gun siren Kelly McGillis". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 12, 2016. Her second husband was California millionaire Fred Tillian, by whom she has daughters (...). The couple split in 2002 after 13 years together. 
  24. ^ a b Jarchow, Boo (April 30, 2009). "Kelly McGillis Says She's Gay on SheWired's 'Girl Rock'". SheWired. Here Media. 
  25. ^ a b Broverman, Neal (April 30, 2009). "Top Gun Star Comes Out: Not Tom". The Advocate. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. 
  26. ^ Schwartz, Paula (September 15, 2010). "Kelly McGillis, Melanie Leis". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ Nutt, Amy Ellis (April 18, 2011). "Kelly McGillis traded Hollywood for Collingswood - and a contented existence". The Star-Ledger. pp. 23, 25. Retrieved April 19, 2011. 
  28. ^ Doty, Meriah (February 9, 2013). "Kelly McGillis recalls 'Top Gun' love scene and 'a lot of partying' while filming". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  29. ^ Puente, Maria (June 24, 2016). "'Top Gun' actress Kelly McGillis attacked at her North Carolina home". USA Today. 
  30. ^ "Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis reveals she was gang-raped". Christian News Today. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 

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