Friday, August 28, 2009

Great Character Actors: Patsy Kelly

Every time I see Patsy Kelly in a film, I fall more and more in love with her. The best I have seen her in yet is, There Goes My Heart (1938). I like to think that in real life, she is much like her character Peggy, fast-talking, wisecracking, rough around the edges but kind-hearted to a fault. From what little there is to read about her on the internet, I think I may not be too off the mark.
Born in Brooklyn as Bridget Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly (her brother reportedly nicknamed her Patsy), Kelly was discovered by vaudeville star Frank Fay and started her career on Broadway. Among her Broadway shows were Three Cheers and Earl Carroll's Sketch Book (1929), Carroll's Vanities (1930), and Wonder Bar (1931).
HollyIn 1931 Hal Roach signed her to do a series of two-reel comedies co-starring Thelma Todd. Thus her Hollywood career began. Her first feature came in1933 when she played Marion Davies' pal in Going Hollywood. She would go on to brighten up nearly 40 more films in the next ten years, which included another delightful film with Marion Davies, Ever Since Eve (1937).
However, by the mid-1940s she was nearly unemployable as an actress and reportedly found work as a housekeeper. Some claim it was her drinking, she was known for getting into bar brawls, others thought that her openness about her homosexuality, a rarity in that era, hurt her career.
Tallulah Bankhead, no stranger to drinking or homosexuality, hired Kelly to support her in Dear Charles (1955) and Kelly managed to returned to features like Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968). In 1971, she returned to Broadway alongside Ruby Keeler in a revival of No, No, Nanette, staged by Busby Berkeley. She recieved a Tony Award for her performance and went on to support Debbie Reynolds in a revival of Irene for two years. Kelly returned to features in 1976 when she appeared as the housekeeper Mrs. Schmauss in the film Freaky Friday. Her final motion picture appearance came in the 1979 Disney comedy, The North Avenue Irregulars.
She died in 1981 at the age of 71 of cancer. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Patsy Kelly has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Tonight on TCM!
Summer Under the Stars: Frank Sinatra-- Eh.
(Is it blasphemous to say I was never really impressed by this guy?)

No comments:

Post a Comment