Patsy Kelly (January 12, 1910 - September 24, 1981) was an American film comedian and Broadway star. She was born Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly in Brooklyn, New York to Irish immigrants. She made her Broadway debut in 1928.
Career[edit | edit source]
In 1930 and 1931, she performed for producer Earl Carroll in his popular Sketches and Vanities musicals before going west to make films in Hollywood. There producer Hal Roach teamed her with Thelma Todd in a series of 1930s comedies, replacing ZaSu Pitts, who left over money issues. From 1931 to 1947 she was featured in over fifty film roles.
She admitted to author Boze Hadleigh in his book Hollywood Lesbians (1996), which was published after the deaths of all the interviewees, that she was a lesbian. She had a long tempestuous relationship with bisexual actress Tallulah Bankhead. She later toured with Bankhead in the play, Dear Charles.
On television she appeared on classic shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Patsy also made a memorable appearance as "Laura-Louise" in the film thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968), directed by Roman Polanski, alongside veteran actors Sidney Blackmer, Ruth Gordon, and Maurice Evans. She returned to Broadway in 1971 in the revival of No, No, Nanette with fellow Irish Catholic hoofers Ruby Keeler and Helen Gallagher. As costar, Patsy scored a huge success as the wise-cracking, tap-dancing maid and won Broadway's 1971 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress for her performance in the show. She topped that success the following year when she starred in Irene with Debbie Reynolds, and was again nominated for a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
She died in 1981 at the age of 71 in Woodland Hills, California of Cancer.
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