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Subject: ARCHIVE: November 6, 1956 ~Hollywood tough guy PAUL KELLY, whose promising early career was derailed in 1929 when after a drunken brawl with his lover's husband actor Ray Raymond, led to his manslaughter conviction, but short years later resumed his Hollywood career until his death at 56. ...

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Date Posted: Wednesday, November 06, 02:54:32pm

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.

Paul Kelly
[ Paul Michael Kelly ]
(August 9, 1899 November 6, 1956)

Early life
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,
as seen here with Silent actress Mary Miles Minter.

...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.

Manslaughter conviction
On April 16, 1927, a drunk Kelly confronted actor Ray Raymond, who was also drunk, 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. 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.

...Mackaye 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 charged 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 in San Quentin prison. Conditions of his release included that he must not marry for eighteen months after his release, and that he would have to take a job as a clerk for $30 per week. Kelly found working as a clerk untenable, and convinced the supervisors of his parole to allow him to return to acting on Broadway, with the condition that he continued to be limited to an income of $30 per week.

Years later, Kelly played the part of San Quentin Warden Clinton Duffy in Duffy of San Quentin.

Personal life

Kelly and Mackaye married in 1931, shortly after the expiration
on Kelly's parole condition prohibiting him from marrying.

They performed on Broadway, and then returned to California, where Mackaye's daughter 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 account of her experiences, Women in Prison, became a film, Ladies They Talk About (1933), with Barbara Stanwyck, and was remade as Lady Gangster in 1942.

Mackaye died in a 1940 auto crash, when her car swerved and rolled into a ditch.

...She walked home, and, seeking to assuage her Kelly's concerns,
insisted that she was not seriously hurt. However, she had suffered
internal injuries, and died within hours. Dorothy-MacKaye's
ashes are buried, still today, in an unmarked grave in Chatsworth, CA.

...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, in Beverly Hills,
CA, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in L.A. suburb city of Culver City, CA.


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