(1910–1981). Stage, film, and television performer. The dumpy, wisecracking character actress had two Broadway careers separated by forty years. Kelly was born in Brooklyn and was dancing on the stage as a child, later going into vaudeville with her neighborhood friend Ruby Keeler. She made her Broadway debut in 1927, and her comic sass lit up such revues as Harry Delmar's Revels (1927), Earl Carroll Sketch Book (1929), Earl Carroll Vanities (1930), and Flying Colors (1932), as well as the book musicals Three Cheers (1928) and Wonder Bar (1930). Kelly went to Hollywood and made her screen debut in Going Hollywood (1933), followed by a dozen other musicals in which she usually played smart-aleck maids or secretaries. Among her film credits are Go Into Your Dance (1935), Thanks a Million (1935), Pigskin Parade (1936), Wake Up and Live (1937), Hit Parade of 1941 (1940), Road Show (1941), and Sing Your Worries Away (1942). Kelly continued to make nonmusical movies into the late 1970s and enjoyed a triumphant return to Broadway in two revivals: as the sarcastic maid Pauline in No, No, Nanette (1971) and the Irish mother Mrs. O'Dare in Irene (1973). She was very active on television from the mid-1950s until a few months before her death.
From The Oxford Companion to the American Musical in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Music Theatre.