Today is the 113th birthday of the actress of Patsy Kelly. She had two film careers, really. First in the 30s and 40s, and then again in the 60s and 70s in Please Don’t Eat The Daisys, Freaky Friday, and Rosemary’s Baby. An out lesbian in the 1930s, she lived her own life on her terms. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Patsy Kelly
ORIGINALY: Bridget Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly
DATE OF BIRTH: 12-Jan-1910
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, NY
DATE OF DEATH: 24-Sep-1981
PLACE OF DEATH: Woodland Hills, CA
CAUSE OF DEATH: Cancer – unspecified
REMAINS: Buried, Calvary Cemetery, Queens, NY
GIRLFRIEND: Tallulah Bankhead
TONY 1971 for No, No, Nannette (musical)
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 6669 Hollywood Blvd. (motion pictures)
BEST KNOWN FOR: Patsy Kelly was an American actress and comedienne. She is known for her role as the brash, wisecracking sidekick to Thelma Todd in a series of short comedy films produced by Hal Roach in the 1930s.
Patsy Kelly was born Bridget Rose Kelly on January 12, 1910, in Brooklyn, New York to Irish immigrants. She began performing in vaudeville at the age of 12, working with comedian Frank Fay. By the early 1930s, Kelly was starring in Broadway shows such as Wonder Bar and Earl Carroll’s Vanities. Soon the film world beckoned her. Kelly headed to Hollywood in 1933 where producer Hal Roach promptly paired her with Thelma Todd in a series of 21 comedy shorts which ended in 1935 with Todd’s death. Kelly soon began working in features, earning a name for herself as a wisecracking sidekick in numerous films throughout the decade such as Merrily We Live, Ever Since Eve, and Topper Returns. Kelly was a lesbian and despite the closeted nature of Hollywood in the 1930s, she was quite open about her sexuality and often referred to herself as ‘a dyke’ in public. In the 1930s, she disclosed to Motion Picture magazine that she had been living with actress Wilma Cox for several years and had no intention of ever marrying a man. By 1943, Kelly was working in low-budget productions and was nearly unemployable. This sad fact has been attributed both to her sexual openness as well as her out-of-control drinking. In the mid 1940s, Kelly opted to move back to New York. She worked as Tallulah Bankhead’s secretary and began a romantic relationship with the star. Kelly kept busy in radio and summer stock and eventually returned to acting in TV (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc) and in films like Please Don’t Eat The Daisys, Rosemary’s Baby and Freaky Friday.
She was bestowed with a Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures in 1960. In 1971, Kelly won Broadway’s Tony award in for Best Featured Actress in the musical No No Nanette and was nominated in the same category two years later for Irene. Her final film was Disney’s The North Avenue Irregulars. After suffering a stroke in January 1980 she moved into the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital. The Queen of the Wisecracks died from cancer in Los Angeles on September 24, 1981.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR The North Avenue Irregulars (9-Feb-1979) Freaky Friday (17-Dec-1976) · Mrs. Schmauss The Phynx (6-May-1970) · Herself Rosemary's Baby (12-Jun-1968) C'mon, Let's Live a Little (3-Mar-1967) The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (6-Apr-1966) The Naked Kiss (29-Oct-1964) The Crowded Sky (2-Sep-1960) · Gertrude Ross Please Don't Eat the Daisies (31-Mar-1960) · Maggie Ladies' Day (25-Mar-1943) · Hazel Jones In Old California (31-May-1942) · Helga Sing Your Worries Away (6-Mar-1942) · Bebe Playmates (26-Dec-1941) · Lulu Monahan Broadway Limited (13-Jun-1941) Topper Returns (21-Mar-1941) · Maid Road Show (18-Feb-1941) · Jinx The Gorilla (26-May-1939) The Cowboy and the Lady (24-Nov-1938) · Katie Callahan There Goes My Heart (27-Sep-1938) · Peggy O'Brien Merrily We Live (4-Mar-1938) · Etta Wake Up and Live (23-Aug-1937) Ever Since Eve (24-Jun-1937) · Sadie Day Pick a Star (21-May-1937) Nobody's Baby (23-Apr-1937) Pigskin Parade (23-Oct-1936) · Bessie Winters Sing, Baby, Sing (21-Aug-1936) Private Number (5-Jun-1936) Thanks a Million (13-Nov-1935) Page Miss Glory (7-Sep-1935) · Betty Every Night at Eight (2-Aug-1935) Go Into Your Dance (20-Apr-1935) Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round (1-Nov-1934) The Girl from Missouri (3-Aug-1934) · Kitty Lennihan Going Hollywood (22-Dec-1933)