Paul Kelly (actor)
Kelly in The High and the Mighty (1954)
|Born||Paul Michael Kelly
August 9, 1899
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||November 6, 1956
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Claire Owen (1941-1956; his death)
Dorothy Mackaye (1931-1940; her death)
Paul Michael Kelly (August 9, 1899 – November 6, 1956) was an American stage, film and television actor. His career survived a manslaughter conviction, tied to a sex scandal, that caused him to spend time in prison in the late 1920s.
Born in Brooklyn, New York to a Roman Catholic family of Irish descent, Paul Michael Kelly was the ninth of ten children. His father owned a saloon, Kelly's Kafe, in the shadow of Vitagraph Studios, on E. 14th St. in Midwood, Brooklyn. After his father's death, he began his career as a child actor at age 7 and was appearing on the stage. In 1911, Kelly began making silent films at age 12 with the Vitagraph Studios, which was based in Brooklyn, and where he was billed as Master Paul Kelly. Kelly was possibly the first male child actor to be given any starring roles in American films, predating better remembered child stars such as Bobby Connelly and Jackie Coogan.
Kelly made his talking film debut in 1933's Broadway Through a Keyhole. In the course of his career, and relatively short life, it has been estimated that Kelly worked on stage, screen, and television in over four hundred roles. Later in his film career, as an adult, Kelly appeared in films mostly as a character actor playing tough guys — some sympathetic, some not — during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
Kelly alternated between stage and screen as an actor. He was a handsome and popular male lead or costar in Broadway plays from the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s. In 1948, Kelly won a Best Actor Tony Award for his role in Command Decision. Clark Gable later played the same role in the film version of the play. Kelly shared the award with Henry Fonda for Mister Roberts and Basil Rathbone for The Heiress.
He served 25 months for manslaughter at San Quentin prison for the death of actor Ray Raymond, a few days after the men had a physical confrontation. On April 16, 1927, a drunk Kelly confronted a drunk Raymond over Kelly's affair with and love for Raymond's wife, Dorothy Mackaye. Raymond was no match for Kelly, who bashed Raymond's head against a wall until he fell unconscious. The incident was witnessed by Raymond's daughter, Valerie, and the maid. Mackaye arrived home to tuck her groggy husband into bed. The next morning, Mackaye called a friend, Dr. Walter Sullivan, who sat at Raymond's bed while she visited Kelly. Raymond lingered for two days then succumbed to a brain hemorrhage. At his trial, Kelly contended that Raymond had started the fight and did not show signs of serious injury at the time. He showed no remorse. Years later, Kelly played the part of San Quentin Warden Clinton Duffy in Duffy of San Quentin.
Mackaye had denied claims in court that she had been romantically involved with Kelly before Raymond's death, but Kelly's love letters to her were introduced as evidence. She was not charged with perjury but with felony conspiracy for the attempted coverup, and sentenced to one to three years but served less than 10 months. Kelly was sentenced to up to 10 years but served only 25 months. Kelly and Mackaye married in 1931 and were back on Broadway. Then they returned to California, where Valerie Raymond, was apparently adopted by her stepfather and became known as Mimi Kelly. Mimi would later have her own modest Broadway career.
Dorothy Mackaye's written account of her experiences, Women in Prison, became a film, Ladies They Talk About (1933), with Barbara Stanwyck, and remade again as Lady Gangster in 1942. Mackaye died in a 1940 auto crash. In 1941, Kelly married Claire Owen (born Zona Mardelle Zwicker), a bit player he had met on the set of Flight Command (1940). She retired from acting, and went on to survive him.
|1919||Anne of Green Gables||Gilbert Blythe|
|1927||Slide, Kelly, Slide||Dillon|
|Special Delivery||Tuck, another detective||Scenes deleted|
|1933||Broadway Through a Keyhole||Frank Rocci|
|1934||Death on the Diamond||Jimmie Downey|
|1935||Star of Midnight||Jim Kinland|
|Public Hero #1||Duff|
|1936||Murder with Pictures||I. B. McCoogin|
|1937||Fit for a King||Briggs|
|Navy Blue and Gold||Tommy Milton (varsity coach)|
|1938||The Devil's Party||Jerry Donovan|
|Island in the Sky||Johnny Doyle|
|Juvenile Court||Gary Franklin||Leading role opposite Rita Hayworth|
|Adventure in Sahara||Jim Wilson||Starring role|
|1939||Within the Law||Joe Garson|
|The Flying Irishman||Butch Brannan|
|6,000 Enemies||Dr. Malcolm Scott|
|The Roaring Twenties||Nick Brown|
|Invisible Stripes||Ed Kruger|
|The Howards of Virginia||Captain Jabez Allen||Alternative title: The Tree of Liberty|
|Flight Command||Lieutenant Commander "Dusty" Rhodes|
|1941||Ziegfeld Girl||John Slayton|
|Parachute Battalion||Sgt. Tex McBride|
|1942||Mr. and Mrs. North||Lieutenant Weigand|
|Tarzan's New York Adventure||Jimmy Shields|
|The Secret Code||Dan Barton||15-chapter serial; leading role|
|Flying Tigers||Hap Smith|
|1944||The Story of Dr. Wassell||Murdock|
|Dead Man's Eyes||Dr. Alan Bittaker|
|1945||China's Little Devils||Big Butch Dooley|
|Allotment Wives||Major Pete Martin|
|San Antonio||Roy Stuart|
|1947||Fear in the Night||Cliff Herlihy|
|Adventure Island||Captain Donald Lochlin|
|1950||The File on Thelma Jordon||Miles Scott|
|Guilty of Treason||Tom Kelly|
|Side Street||Captain Walter Anderson|
|The Secret Fury||District Attorney Eric Lowell|
|1951||The Painted Hills||Jonathan Harvey||Alternative titles: Lassie's Adventures in the Goldrush, Lassie's Christmas Story|
|1952||Springfield Rifle||Lieutenant Colonel John Hudson|
|1953||Gunsmoke||Dan Saxon||Alternative titles: A Man's Country, Roughshod|
|Split Second||Bart Moore|
|1954||The High and the Mighty||Donald Flaherty|
|Johnny Dark||William H. "Scotty" Scott|
|1955||The Square Jungle||Jim McBride|
|1956||Storm Center||Judge Robert Ellerbe|
|1950||The Ford Theatre Hour||1 episode|
|1952||Robert Montgomery Presents||1 episode|
|1954–1955||Fireside Theater||2 episodes|
|Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||3 episodes|
|1955||Cavalcade of America||1 episode|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paul Kelly (actor).|
- Paul Kelly at the Internet Broadway Database
- Paul Kelly at the Internet Movie Database
- Paul Kelly at Find a Grave