Kelly McGillis

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Kelly McGillis
Born Kelly Ann McGillis
(1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 58)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Education Juilliard School (1979–1983)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Boyd Black (m. 1979; div. 1981)
Fred Tillman (m. 1989; div. 2002)
Partner(s) Melanie Leis (2010-2012)
Children 2

Kelly Ann McGillis (born July 9, 1957)[1] is an American actress. She found fame for her roles in several films throughout the 1980s including her roles as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985) for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, Charlie in Top Gun (1986) and Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988).

Early life and education[edit]

McGillis was born 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]

She attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California.[4] In 1979, 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 Blatchley.[citation needed]


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.[7][8] McGillis appeared in dozens of television and film roles throughout the 1990s before taking a break from acting for a few years.

In 2004, she appeared in the stage play The Graduate as Mrs. Robinson, touring the United States. 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. McGillis starred in a Pasadena Playhouse stage production of Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman in May 2009, co-starring with Julia Duffy.

She had a role in the 2010 vampire film Stake Land,[9] directed by Jim Mickle.[10] She stars alongside Nick Damici, Connor Paolo and Danielle Harris.[11] McGillis was featured in a breast cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, released in 2010.[12] 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.[citation needed] She starred in Ti West's 2011 thriller The Innkeepers.[13]

Personal life[edit]

McGillis married Boyd Black in 1979. They divorced in 1981.

McGillis and her girlfriend were assaulted, verbally abused, and raped in February 1982 at knifepoint by two men who broke into her New York apartment. One of the rapists was 15-year-old Leroy Johnson, who was on the run from juvenile detention.[14] This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her film role as the lawyer who supports Jodie Foster's character in The Accused.[15]

She married Fred Tillman in 1989, and they had two daughters: Kelsey and Sonora. The couple divorced in 2002. She also has three grandchildren.

McGillis came out as a lesbian in April 2009 during an interview with SheWired.[16][17] 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.[16][17] 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 Kelly's Caribbean Bar & Grill in Key West, Florida, ( which she owned with her then-husband.[18] Leis and McGillis broke up in 2012.

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.[19][20]

McGillis currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches acting at The New York Studio for Stage ( Screen in Asheville.[21]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Reuben, Reuben Geneva Spofford
1985 Witness Rachel
1986 Top Gun Charlotte Blackwood
1987 Unsettled Land Anda
1987 Made in Heaven Annie Packert / Ally Chandler
1988 House on Carroll Street, TheThe House on Carroll Street Emily
1988 Accused, TheThe Accused Kathryn Murphy
1989 Rabbit Ears: Thumbelina Storyteller Video short
1989 Winter People Collie Wright
1989 Cat Chaser Mary DeBoya
1991 Grand Isle Edna Pontellier
1992 Babe, TheThe Babe Claire Hodgson Ruth
1994 North Amish Mom
1998 Painted Angels Nettie
1998 Ground Control Susan Stratton
1999 At First Sight Jennie Adamson
1999 Settlement, TheThe Settlement Ellie / Fake Barbara
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 Video
2010 Stake Land Sister
2011 What Could Have Been Margaret
2011 Innkeepers, TheThe Innkeepers Leanne Rease-Jones
2013 We Are What We Are Marge
2013 Tio Papi Elizabeth Warden
2013 Grand Street Isabelle Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Sweet Revenge Katherine Dennison Breen TV film
1984 One Life to Live Glenda Livingston TV series
1985 Live from the Lincoln Center Host Episode: "Juilliard at 80"
1985 Private Sessions Jennifer Coles TV film
1986 Santabear's First Christmas Narrator (voice) TV film
1987 Santabear's High Flying Adventure Missy Bear (voice) TV short
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing Mrs. Winston Hope 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 Episode: "Pilot"
1995 Remember Me Menly Nichols TV film
1996 We the Jury Alyce Bell TV film
1997 Third Twin, TheThe 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) Episode: "Pack of Thornberrys"
2000 Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits Nicole Whitley Episode: "Final Appeal"
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Gorgeous Woman (voice) Episode: "Planet of the Lost"
2006 Cold Shoulder TV film
2006 Black Widower Nancy Westveld TV film
2008 L Word, TheThe L Word Col. Gillian Davis Episodes: "Lesbians Gone Wild", "Lay Down the Law"
2014 Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio Bertha Troyler TV film
2014 Z Nation Helen Episode: "Sisters of Mercy"


  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. ^ Hasted, Nick (March 29, 2001). "Kelly McGillis: The star who threw herself to earth". The Independent. 
  8. ^ Davis, Steven Paul (2001). The A-Z of Cult Films and Film-makers. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8704-6. 
  9. ^ Kelly McGillis a Top Gun in Stake Land
  10. ^ Massive Set Visit Report: A Trip to 'Stake Land'
  11. ^ Badass Stake Land Teaser
  12. ^ "Mcg - Indian Star Rallies Celebrity Support For Cancer Movie", Oct 2009
  13. ^ First Images from Ti West's The Innkeepers
  14. ^ "Revealed: How rape made Top Gun star Kelly McGillis walk away from Hollywood". Mail Online. 2 October 2010. 
  15. ^ Scott, Paul. "Revealed: How rape made Top Gun star Kelly McGillis walk away from Hollywood". 
  16. ^ a b Jarchow, Boo (April 30, 2009). "Kelly McGillis Says She's Gay on SheWired's 'Girl Rock'". SheWired. Here Media. 
  17. ^ a b Broverman, Neal (April 30, 2009). "Top Gun Star Comes Out: Not Tom". The Advocate. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. 
  18. ^ Schwartz, Paula (September 15, 2010). "Kelly McGillis, Melanie Leis". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Seabrook House web site
  21. ^

External links[edit]