David Kelly (actor)

David Kelly
Born (1929-07-11)11 July 1929
Dublin, Ireland
Died 12 February 2012(2012-02-12) (aged 82)
Goatstown, Dublin, Ireland
Resting place Mount Jerome Cemetery & Crematorium
Residence Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Education Synge Street CBS
Alma mater The Abbey School of Acting
Occupation Actor
Years active 19512012
Notable work Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Waking Ned, The Jigsaw Man, Stardust, Into the West
Home town Dublin, Ireland
Television Robin's Nest , Fawlty Towers, Strumpet City, Emmerdale Farm, Glenroe
Spouse(s) Laurie Morton (m. 1961–2012)
Children 2
Awards Helen Hayes Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Lifetime Achievement Award

David Kelly (11 July 1929 – 12 February 2012) was an Irish actor, who had regular roles in several film and television works from the 1950s onwards. One of the most recognisable voices and faces of Irish stage and screen,[1] Kelly was known to Irish audiences for his role as Rashers Tierney in Strumpet City, to British audiences for his roles as Cousin Enda in Me Mammy and as the builder Mr. O'Reilly in Fawlty Towers, and to American audiences for his role as Grandpa Joe in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Another notable role was as Michael O'Sullivan in Waking Ned .[2]

Early life and career

Kelly was born 11 July 1929 in Dublin, Ireland,[3][4] and educated at Dublin's Synge Street CBS Christian Brothers school.[5] He began acting at the age of eight at the city's Gaiety Theatre,[3] and trained at The Abbey School of Acting.[5] As a backup career, he additionally trained as a draughtsman and calligrapher,[5] and also learned watercolor art.[3] He appeared onstage in the original production of Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow, and gained his first major career attention in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at the Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1959.[6] By then he had made his screen debut in a small part in director John Pomeroy's 1958 film noir Dublin Nightmare.[5]

He became a familiar face on British television beginning in the 1960s with the BBC comedy Me Mammy, opposite Milo O'Shea and Anna Manahan. He went on to often-memorable guest roles on such series as Oh Father!, Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width, and On the Buses, and particularly during the 1970s with a long-running role as the one-armed dishwasher Albert Riddle in the Man About the House spin-off Robin's Nest.[6] He also had a regular long running role alongside Bruce Forsyth in both series of the comedy Slingers Day from 1986 to 1987.

He gained some of his greatest recognition in 1975, playing inept builder Mr. O'Reilly on the second episode of Fawlty Towers ("The Builders").[3]

Kelly was in the voice cast of The Light Princess, a partly animated, hour-long family fantasy that aired on the BBC in 1978.[7]

In Ireland, he may be most famous for his portrayal of the character "Rashers" Tierney in the 1980 RTÉ miniseries Strumpet City,[3] which starred Peter O'Toole, Cyril Cusack and Peter Ustinov. He went on to have starring roles in television shows such as Emmerdale Farm in the 1980s and Glenroe in the 1990s, as well as playing the grandfather in Mike Newell's film Into the West (1992).

Following his appearance as Michael O'Sullivan in the 1998 film Waking Ned, he played roles in such films as Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which he played Grandpa Joe; Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London; and Stardust, his final film. He also did extensive radio work, including a guest appearance on the BBC Radio 4 series Baldi.

Later life and death

Kelly was married to actress Laurie Morton, who survives him, along with children David and Miriam.[8] He died after a short illness on 12 February 2012[3][9] at age 82. The Irish Times referred to him as the "grand old man of Irish acting".[3] A Catholic funeral mass took place on the 16 February 2012, at the Church of the Miraculous Medal, in the actor's home town of Dublin. Kelly was cremated at Mount Jerome Cemetery and Crematorium.[10]

Awards and honors

Kelly won a 1991 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Performer, Non-Resident Production, for a Kennedy Center revival of The Playboy of the Western World.[11] As well, he earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for the 1998 film Waking Ned.[12]

In 2005, Kelly won the Irish Film & Television Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award, in addition to earning a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.[13]

TV and filmography


  1. "Actor David Kelly Dies Aged 82". Irish Examiner. Thomas Crosbie Holdings. 13 February 2012. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  2. "Irish Actor David Kelly Dies Aged 82". BBC News. BBC. 13 February 2012. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Healy, Alison (13 February 2012). "Grand Old Man of Irish Acting Dies, Aged 82". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012. Kelly was born in Dublin on July 11th, 1929 and educated at Synge Street Catholic Boys School.
  4. One source, which interviewed him, gives 1928: "Why Life's Sweet for Oscar-Hopeful David". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. July 30, 2005. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Irish Independent, 2005
  6. 1 2 Quinn, Michael (14 February 2012). "Leading Irish Actor David Kelly Dies". The Stage. The Stage Media Company Limited. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  7. Anderson, Paul (13 February 2012). "Irish actor David Kelly, "Grandpa Joe," Dies at 82". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  8. "David Kelly Dies Aged 82". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. RTÉ. 12 February 2012. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  9. "David Kelly, Irish Film Actor, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 18, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  10. "Funeral takes place of acting legend Kelly". RTÉ Ten. RTÉ. 16 February 2012. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  11. "Kelly, David - 1991". TheatreWashington.org. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012.
  12. "The 5th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". SAGAwards.org. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012.
  13. "Winners of the 3rd Annual Irish Film & Television Awards". Irish Film & Television Academy. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011.

External links

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