Actress and dancer Paula Kelly reportedly passed away on Sunday (February 9), according to Broadway World.
Kelly began her career as a Broadway performer and professional dancer and successfully expanded her talents into film and television. Born in Jacksonville, Florida but raised in New York City, Kelly was a member in both Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey’s dance companies.
On Broadway, Kelly performed as a stage actress in 1964’s Something More, 1969’s The Dozens and Sweet Charity, 1971’s Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and 1981’s Sophisticated Ladies, Duke Ellington’s musical revue, among others.
So sad to hear about the passing of Paula Kelly. Her performance in @Oprah’s ‘Women of Brewster Place’ changed my life & was something I never forgot. “As long as they own the whole damn world, it’s them & us - and that spells different.” Rest In Power, Paula Kelly. #paulakelly pic.twitter.com/8R5dl2PqxH— Clay Cane (@claycane) February 10, 2020
Later, and on television, Kelly earned Emmy Award nominations for her roles in Night Courtand The Women of Brewster Place. She also appeared in The Carol Burnett Show, Sanford and Son, Police Woman, Hill Street Blues, Golden Girls, and Kojak.
In 2016, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Daniels chose Kelly as “The Photo That Influenced Me Most” for TIME Magazine. He wrote: “When I was a kid, this photo of the divine Paula Kelly inspired me to go to the movies to see Sweet Charity. Never in my life had I seen such elegance, raw talent and breathtaking honesty on screen. She is an unsung hero and the reason that I am here.”
Kelly is survived by her daughter, whom she shared with husband Donald Chaffey, who died in 1990. She was 76 years old.
A cause of death has not yet been released.
Our condolences are with Paula Kelly’s family and friends during this most difficult time.
Photo: Paramount/Getty Images