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Patsy Kelly Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (21)  | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (5)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameBridget Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly
Nickname The Queen of Wisecracks
Height 5' 2½" (1.59 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Patsy Kelly was born Bridget Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly on January 12, 1910, in Brooklyn, New York. She began performing in vaudeville when she was just twelve years old. Patsy worked with comedian Frank Fay and starred in several Broadway shows. She was discovered by producer Hal Roach, who paired her with Thelma Todd in a series of comedy shorts. They became a popular onscreen team and made thirty-five films together including Top Flat (1935) and Done in Oil (1934). Although Patsy never became an A-list star she continued to work throughout the 1930s. She had supporting roles in Pigskin Parade (1936), Merrily We Live (1938), and Topper Returns (1941). Patsy was a lesbian and she was always open with the press about her sexuality. She had a long-term relationship with actress Wilma Cox. By the early 1940s Patsy was drinking heavily and making headlines for her erratic behavior. She decided to quit show business and moved to New York City. She started dating Tallulah Bankhead and worked as her secretary. Eventually, Patsy went back to acting and appeared on numerous television shows. She also had small roles in the films Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Freaky Friday (1976). Patsy won a Tony award in 1971 for her performance in No No Nanette. After suffering a stroke she moved into a nursing home. She died from pneumonia on September 24, 1981. Patsy is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Elizabeth Ann

Trivia (21)

Her brother gave her the nickname "Patsy".
Had co-starred with Thelma Todd in a series of two-reel comedies in 1931-1935.
Frank Fay, her boss at one point, developed a crush on her, but she rejected him. Later, when she called him "Frank" instead of Mr. Fay, he fired her.
Won Broadway's 1971 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for "No, No, Nanette". She was again nominated in the same category in 1973 for "Irene".
In 1933, she and Jimmy Forlenza were passengers in an automobile driven by actor/female impersonator Jean Malin. Malin accidentally backed the car off the Venice Pier and drowned. Kelly and Forlenza (a close friend of Malin) survived.
Patsy was unusual for her time by admitting publicly that she was a lesbian. Many movie historians believe her frankness about her lifestyle hurt her acting career which all but ended in movies by 1944, until television revived it.
Profiled in the book "Funny Ladies: 100 Years of Great Comediennes" by Stephen M. Silverman (1999).
She wanted to be a fireman, but was trained as a dancer instead. By age 13, she was good enough to get paid to teach tap dancing at school.
She was known for her ability to ad-lib on screen, a skill she developed in vaudeville.
Had appeared on stage in "Earl Carroll's Vanities", alongside Jack Benny and Jimmy Savo, and in "Wonder Bar", with Al Jolson.
In 1933, Hal Roach replaced Zasu Pitts with her in a series of comedy shorts with Thelma Todd.
In the mid-1940s, she became personal assistant, frequent lover, and lifelong friend of Tallulah Bankhead.
In January 1980, she suffered a stroke which limited her ability to speak and she quit acting on that account. She moved into a nursing home in Englewood, New Jersey where she underwent therapy.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6669 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Following her death, she was interred with her parents, John and Delia Kelly, at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.
Her parents, John and Deila Kelly, were Irish immigrants.
During contract disputes between Hal Roach and Stan Laurel in the mid 30's a press release was issued saying that Oliver Hardy, , Patsy Kelly and Spanky McFarland were to star together in 'The Hardy Family ' series to be directed by James W. Horne with the first to be 'Their Night Out'.
She was scheduled to play Stan Laurel's wife in Sons of the Desert but had to drop out due to conflict with another film and she was replaced by Dorothy Christie.
Played on Broadway in 1930 and 31 in Earl Carroll's musicals 'Sketches and Vanities' and also made appearances with stage comic Frank Fay. Hal Roach took notice of her success and in 1933 invited her to star in a comedy series with Thelma Todd.
She returned to Broadway in 1971 in the revival of No,No Nanette with Ruby Keeler. Her wise- cracking was the hit of the show and won her a Tony Award.
There was an attempt to team her with Pert Kelton in Pan Handlers and with Lyda Roberti in A Sea Ashore and Hill Tillies in 1036 but the teamings were not considered successful.

Personal Quotes (3)

I laughed from the time I arrived at the studio until I left at night. I was almost ashamed to take a paycheck. In 40-odd years in show business, some years I could do no wrong, and some years I could do nothing right. Show business. I owe it everything - it owes me nothing.
[Before going to Hollywood] I'll be a flop in movies. Besides, I don't like 'em, and I never did believe there was a place called Hollywood. Somebody made it up!
I think people are starved for happy endings. I know I was.

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