Patsy Kelly

Active - 1933 - 1979  |   Born - Dec 1, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Died - Sep 24, 1981   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Romance

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Biography by Rovi

Patsy Kelly was a dumpy, big-eyed comedic actress with Brooklyn manners and accent. Having studied dance since childhood and also developed into a skilled comedienne, she was very popular in Broadway musicals of the early '30s such as Earl Carroll's Sketches and Wonder Bar, opposite Al Jolson in the latter. In 1933 Hal Roach brought her to Hollywood to replace ZaSu Pitts as Thelma Todd's costar in a popular series of two-reel comedies. Over the next decade she sustained a busy screen career, often playing the deadpan, wisecracking friend of the heroine in comedies and musicals; occasionally she played leads, as well. She retired after 1943, reportedly because of a drinking problem. Later she worked on radio and TV and performed with close friend Tallulah Bankhead in the play Dear Charles, at Bankhead's kind invitation. In the '60s she returned occasionally to films in supporting roles. In 1971 she scored a major success as the costar (a tap-dancing maid) of the Broadway revival of No No Nanette, for which she won a Tony Award; she went on to perform in the Broadway revival of Irene.

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  • Was of Irish descent.
  • At a young age, she wanted to be a fireman before considering acting.
  • Started her career in acting at the age of 12.
  • Was a trained dancer, and she taught tap dance in school.
  • Got her nickname Patsy by her brother.
  • Was discovered by renowned producer Hal Roach, who introduced her to actress Thelma Todd.