Actress and dancer Paula Kelly passed away on February 9 at the age of 76, according to Broadway World. No cause of death has been revealed, but friends and relatives confirmed her death on social media today.
Kelly was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in October 1943, but was raised in New York City. She attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and studied music at The Julliard School in New York City.
Her career as a Broadway actress and dancer spanned decades, starting in the 1960s.
She trained and performed as a dancer with the Martha Graham dance company and the Alvin Ailey dance theater in New York City.
Paula Kelly appeared in many Broadway productions
She made her debut on Broadway in 1964 when she played Mrs. Veloz in the musical Something More! She also appeared in Broadway productions, such as The Dozens (1969), Ovid’s Metamorphosis (1971), and Sophisticated Ladies (1981).
Please say a prayer for my family We lost my aunt Paula Kelly❤️ pic.twitter.com/xBCnOdetwH
— Kyle (@kyleleenorton) February 9, 2020
She featured in the August 1969 issue of Playboy.
She played roles in many TV shows, including Janet Carlisle in Kojak, Olaiya in Sanford and Son, and Marguerite in Golden Girls. She also appeared on The Carol Burnett Show in 1968.
She appeared in the London stage production of Sweet Charity as well as in the movie adaptation.
Her other movie credits include Karen Anson in Andromeda Strain, Leggy Peggy in Uptown Saturday Night, Martha in Soylent Green, and Ma Pearl in Once Upon A Time… When We Were Colored.
She is also known for her role as Satin Doll in Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling.
She won multiple NAACP Awards. She received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Public Defender Liz Williams in Night Court.
She also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries for her role as Theresa in the Women of Brewster Place.
She retired from acting in 1999.
People have been pay tribute on Twitter
Fans of Paula Kelly have been posting tributes on Twitter since news of her death broke:
Rest in peace, Leggy Peggy.
Or, as I knew you, Betty, the Satin Doll.https://t.co/12amA8hvzf
— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) February 9, 2020
RIP to the legendary Paula Kelly. pic.twitter.com/Kjaix76Www
— Kimberly Renee (@reelsistas) February 9, 2020
I’m very heart broken. One of my idols has passed! This one is hard for me. 😢 RIP https://t.co/CyyjKef0kb
— J.R. Whittington (@JR_Whittington) February 9, 2020
The sublime Paula Kelly was sensational as Helene in the Fosse movie of Sweet Charity and great as the questionable title character in the Golden Girls episode "The Housekeeper." She earned that tiara and bouquet. RIP. pic.twitter.com/xNUJjsXEpL
— michael musto (@mikeymusto) February 9, 2020
Farewell to a talented genius, Paula Kelly. She was everything – broadway star, movie star, tv star, dancer, model, there was nothing she couldn’t do. She was also a hardcore jazz fan! She was always hanging out listening to the music. RIP Paula. 💔🙏🏾 https://t.co/Pb1HMnDBHo
— Christian McBride (@mcbridesworld) February 9, 2020
Paula Kelly was married to Don Chaffey
She married British film and TV director Don Chaffey in the 1980s. Chaffey is best known for directing episodes of Charlie’s Angels, Stingray, Fantasy Island, Mission: Impossible, and MacGyver.
His film credits include the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts. He died in November 1990 in New Zealand of heart disease.
Paula Kelly is survived by her daughter.