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Paul Kelly
Paul Michael Kelly

(1899-08-09)August 9, 1899
DiedNovember 6, 1956(1956-11-06) (aged 57)
Years active1906–1956
Dorothy Mackaye
(m. 1931; died 1940)

Paul Michael Kelly (August 9, 1899[citation needed] – November 6, 1956) was an American stage, film, and television actor. His career survived a manslaughter conviction, tied to an affair, that caused him to spend time in prison in the late 1920s.

Mary Miles Minter (playing Anne Shirley) snuggles with Paul Kelly (Gilbert Blythe) in a scene still for the 1919 silent film Anne of Green Gables
Paul Kelly (1937), in Fit for a King


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. 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.[1]

Kelly in The High and the Mighty (1954)

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.[1]

Manslaughter conviction

On April 16, 1927, a drunk Kelly confronted fellow actor Ray Raymond over his affair with and love for Raymond's wife, actress Dorothy Mackaye. Raymond, who was also drunk, was no match for Kelly, who was considerably larger than him. During their confrontation, Kelly hit him several times and left him on the floor.[2]

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.[3] 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 18 months after his release, and that he would have to take a job as a clerk for $30 per week.[2] 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.[2]

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.[2] They performed on Broadway, and then returned to California, where Mackaye's daughter Valerie Raymond was apparently adopted by Kelly and became known as Mimi Kelly. Mimi would later have her own modest Broadway career.[1]

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 from a 1940 auto crash, when her car swerved and rolled into a ditch. She walked home, and, seeking to assuage Kelly's concerns, insisted that she was not seriously hurt. Her doctor, however, insisted that she go to a hospital, where she died three days later due to a ruptured bladder she suffered in the accident.[4]

Kelly married Claire Owen a year later.[4] He died of a heart attack at 57 on November 6, 1956, in Beverly Hills, California.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1919 Fit to Win Hank Simpson
Anne of Green Gables Gilbert Blythe
1920 Uncle Sam of Freedom Ridge Young Sam
1921 The Great Adventure Another Leek Son
The Old Oaken Bucket The Youth
1926 The New Klondike Bing Allen
1927 Slide, Kelly, Slide Dillon
Special Delivery Tuck, another detective (scenes deleted)
The Poor Nut Spike Hoyt Uncredited
1932 The Girl from Calgary Larry Boyd
1933 Broadway Through a Keyhole Frank Rocci
1934 School for Girls Garry Waltham
The Love Captive Dr. Norman Ware
Side Streets Tim O'Hara
Blind Date Bill Lowry
Death on the Diamond Jimmie Downey
The President Vanishes Chick Moffat
1935 When a Man's a Man Phil Acton
Star of Midnight Jim Kinland
Public Hero No. 1 James Duff
Speed Devils Martin Gray
Silk Hat Kid Tim Martin
It's a Great Life Rockie Johnson

1935 Saga of the West Phil

1936 My Marriage Barney Dolan
Here Comes Trouble Duke Donovan
Song and Dance Man Hap Farrell
The Country Beyond Sgt. Cassidy
Women Are Trouble Bill Blaine
Murder with Pictures I. B. McCoogin
The Accusing Finger Douglas Goodwin
1937 Join the Marines Philip H. 'Phil' Donlan
Parole Racket Police Lieutenant Tony Roberts
It Happened Out West Richard P. Howe
The Frame-Up Mark MacArthur
Fit for a King Briggs
Navy Blue and Gold Tommy Milton (varsity coach)
1938 Island in the Sky Johnny Doyle
Torchy Blane in Panama Steve McBride
The Nurse from Brooklyn Jim Barnes
The Devil's Party Jerry Donovan
The Missing Guest 'Scoop' Hanlon
Juvenile Court Gary Franklin Leading role opposite Rita Hayworth
Adventure in Sahara Jim Wilson Starring role
1939 Within the Law Joe Garson
The Flying Irishman Butch Brannan
Forged Passport Dan Frazer
6,000 Enemies Dr. Malcolm Scott
The Roaring Twenties Nick Brown
Invisible Stripes Ed Kruger
1940 Queen of the Mob Tom Webster
Wyoming General Custer
The Howards of Virginia Captain Jabez Allen Alternative title: The Tree of Liberty
Girls Under 21 Johnny Cane
Flight Command Lieutenant Commander "Dusty" Rhodes
1941 Ziegfeld Girl John Slayton
I'll Wait for You Police Lieutenant 'Mac' McFarley
Parachute Battalion Sgt. Tex McBride
1942 Mr. and Mrs. North Lieutenant Weigand
Call Out the Marines Jim Blake
Not a Ladies' Man Robert Bruce
Tarzan's New York Adventure Jimmy Shields
Tough As They Come Dan Stevens
The Secret Code Dan Barton 15-chapter serial; leading role
Flying Tigers Hap Davis
1943 The Man from Music Mountain Victor Marsh

1943 Texas Legionaires Victor Marsh

1944 The Story of Dr. Wassell Murdock
Dead Man's Eyes Dr. Alan Bittaker
Faces in the Fog Tom Elliott
1945 Grissly's Millions Joe Simmons
China's Little Devils Big Butch Dooley
Allotment Wives Major Pete Martin
San Antonio Roy Stuart
1946 The Glass Alibi Max Anderson
The Cat Creeps Ken Grady
Deadline for Murder Lt. Jerry E. McMullen
Strange Journey Lucky Leeds
1947 Fear in the Night Cliff Herlihy
Spoilers of the North Matt Garraway
Crossfire Mr. Tremaine
Adventure Island Captain Donald Lochlin
1950 The File on Thelma Jordon Miles Scott
Guilty of Treason Tom Kelly
The Secret Fury District Attorney Eric Lowell
Side Street Captain Walter Anderson
Frenchie Pete Lambert
1951 The Painted Hills Jonathan Harvey Alternative titles: Lassie's Adventures in the Goldrush, Lassie's Christmas Story
1952 Springfield Rifle Lieutenant Colonel John Hudson
1953 Gunsmoke Dan Saxon Alternative titles: A Man's Country, Roughshod
Split Second Bart Moore
1954 Duffy of San Quentin Warden Clinton T. Duffy
The High and the Mighty Donald Flaherty
Johnny Dark William H. "Scotty" Scott
The Steel Cage Warden Clinton T. Duffy
1955 The Square Jungle Jim McBride
1956 Storm Center Judge Robert Ellerbe
1957 Curfew Breakers Police Lieutenant Lacey
Bailout at 43,000 Colonel Hughes last film role
Year Title Role Notes
1950 The Ford Theatre Hour 1 episode
1952 Robert Montgomery Presents 1 episode
1954–1955 Fireside Theater 2 episodes
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Joe Tierney / Bunter 3 episodes
1955 Cavalcade of America 1 episode


  1. ^ a b c Profile,; accessed July 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Gene Coughlin, "Tragedies of the Stage", Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph (September 12, 1948), p. American Weekly, p. 7.
  3. ^ "Dorothy Mackaye Released from Prison". Delaware County Daily Times. Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. January 2, 1929. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019 – via Open access icon
  4. ^ a b Stephenson, Simon (August 19, 2023). "A neighbour said: 'We didn't want to scare you' – how I became obsessed with the dark past of my Hollywood home". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 166. ISBN 9780786409839. Retrieved 25 November 2017.