Children Valerie Raymond
Role Film actor
|Name Paul Kelly|
Years active 1906–1956
Books Top Score, Level 1
|Full Name Paul Michael Kelly|
Born August 9, 1899 (1899-08-09) Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.
Died November 6, 1956, Beverly Hills, California, United States
Spouse Claire Owen (m. 1941–1956), Dorothy Mackaye (m. 1931–1940)
Movies Springfield Rifle, The File on Thelma Jordon, The Painted Hills, Fear in the Night, Tarzan's New York Adventure
Similar People Dorothy Mackaye, Walter Doniger, Raoul Walsh, William A Wellman, Andre de Toth
Paul Michael Kelly (August 9, 1899 – November 6, 1956) was an American stage, film and television actor. His career survived a manslaughter conviction, tied to a sex scandal, that caused him to spend time in prison in the late 1920s.
Born in Brooklyn, New York to a Roman Catholic family of Irish descent, Paul Michael Kelly was the ninth of ten children. His father owned a saloon, Kelly's Kafe, in the shadow of Vitagraph Studios, on E. 14th St. in Midwood, Brooklyn. After his father's death, he began his career as a child actor at age 7 and was appearing on the stage. In 1911, at age 12, Kelly began making silent films with Vitagraph Studios, where he was billed as Master Paul Kelly. Kelly was possibly the first male child actor to be given any starring roles in American films, predating better remembered child stars such as Bobby Connelly and Jackie Coogan.
Kelly made his talking film debut in 1933's Broadway Through a Keyhole. In the course of his career, and relatively short life, it has been estimated that Kelly worked on stage, screen, and television in over four hundred roles. Later in his film career, as an adult, Kelly appeared in films mostly as a character actor playing tough guys — some sympathetic, some not — during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
Kelly alternated between stage and screen as an actor. He was a handsome and popular male lead or costar in Broadway plays from the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s. In 1948, Kelly won a Best Actor Tony Award for his role in Command Decision. Clark Gable later played the same role in the film version of the play. Kelly shared the award with Henry Fonda for Mister Roberts and Basil Rathbone for The Heiress.
He served 25 months for manslaughter at San Quentin prison for the death of actor Ray Raymond, a few days after the men had a physical confrontation. On April 16, 1927, a drunk Kelly confronted a drunk Raymond over Kelly's affair with and love for Raymond's wife, actress Dorothy Mackaye. Raymond was no match for Kelly, who bashed Raymond's head against a wall until he fell unconscious. The incident was witnessed by Raymond's daughter, Valerie, and the maid. Mackaye arrived home to tuck her groggy husband into bed. The next morning, Mackaye called a friend, Dr. Walter Sullivan, who sat at Raymond's bed while she visited Kelly. Raymond lingered for two days then succumbed to a brain hemorrhage. At his trial, Kelly contended that Raymond had started the fight and did not show signs of serious injury at the time. He showed no remorse. Years later, Kelly played the part of San Quentin Warden Clinton Duffy in Duffy of San Quentin.
Mackaye had denied claims in court that she had been romantically involved with Kelly before Raymond's death, but Kelly's love letters to her were introduced as evidence. She was not charged with perjury but with felony conspiracy for the attempted coverup, and sentenced to one to three years but served less than 10 months. Kelly was sentenced to up to 10 years but served only 25 months. Kelly and Mackaye married in 1931 and were back on Broadway. Then they returned to California, where Valerie Raymond was apparently adopted by her stepfather and became known as Mimi Kelly. Mimi would later have her own modest Broadway career.
Dorothy Mackaye's written account of her experiences, Women in Prison, became a film, Ladies They Talk About (1933), with Barbara Stanwyck, and remade again as Lady Gangster in 1942. Mackaye died in a 1940 auto crash. In 1941, Kelly married Claire Owen (born Zona Mardelle Zwicker), a bit player he had met on the set of Flight Command (1940). She retired from acting, and went on to survive him.
Kelly died of a heart attack at 57 on November 6, 1956.