Daughter of JazzPaula Kelly was born on October 21, 1943, in Jacksonville, Florida. She was the daughter of a jazz musician and was raised in Harlem, New York. She attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art as a music major. After graduating from high school, she continued her studies at the Juilliard School of Music.
BroadwayWhile attending the Juilliard School of Music, Kelly majored in dance. She eventually earned an M.S. degree and soon began performing as a soloist for major dance companies, including Alvin Ailey. She landed her first role on Broadway as Mrs. Veloz in the 1964 musical, ‘Something More!’
TelevisionKelly soon began working as a guest artist and assistant choreographer for a number of television specials. She worked with Sammy Davis, Jr. on ‘Sammy and Friends,’ she worked on Quincy Jones’ tribute to Duke Ellington, ‘We Love You Madly,’ and she worked alongside Richard Pryor on ‘The Richard Pryor Show.’
AwardsDuring the late 1960s, Kelly performed a dance solo at the 41st Academy Awards. She danced to the title track from the 1968 film, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’ She later performed in London opposite Juliet Prowse in the stage play, ‘Sweet Charity.’ She won the London Variety Award for Best Supporting Actress. Kelly then returned to the states, starring in another stage play titled, ‘Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope.’ As a result of her stellar performance, she won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and an NAACP Image Award.
FilmKelly later broke into the film industry. She landed several roles in smaller films, television movies, and sitcoms. She was nominated for Emmy Awards for her work on the sitcom ‘Night Court’ and for her performance in ‘The Women of Brewster Place.’
Alive and WellAfter playing a number of roles for stage and screen productions, Kelly stepped out of the limelight by 1999. Her last appearance on television was on the show titled, ‘Any Day Now.’ At the age of 74 years old, Paula Kelly is alive and well.
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