Fred Kelsey

Active - 1914 - 1959  |   Born - Aug 20, 1884   |   Died - Sep 2, 1961   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Ohio-born Fred Kelsey was so firmly typed as a comedy cop in Hollywood films that in the 1944 MGM cartoon classic Who Killed Who?, animator Tex Avery deliberately designed his detective protagonist to look like Kelsey -- mustache, heavy eyebrows, derby hat and all. In films from 1909, Kelsey started out as a director (frequently billed as" Fred A. Kelcey"), but by the '20s he was well into his established characterization as the beat cop or detective who was forever falling asleep on the job or jumping to the wrong conclusion. Often Kelsey's dialogue was confined to one word: "Sayyyyy....!" He seemed to be busiest at Warner Bros. and Columbia, appearing in fleeting bits at the former studio (butchers, bartenders, house detectives), and enjoying more sizeable roles in the B-films, short subjects and serials at the latter studio. From 1940 through 1943, Kelsey had a continuing role as dim-witted police sergeant Dickens in Columbia's Lone Wolf B-picture series. Seldom given a screen credit, Fred Kelsey was curiously afforded prominent featured billing in 20th Century-Fox's O. Henry's Full House (1952), in which he was barely recognizable as a street-corner Santa Claus.

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