Paula Kelly Dies: ‘Evening Courtroom’, ‘Ladies Of Brewster Place’ Actress Was 77

Paula Kelly, an actress who earned Emmy nominations for roles on NBC’s 1980s sitcom Evening Courtroom and the 1989 ABC miniseries The Ladies of Brewster Place, died Saturday, February eight, in Whittier, CA, from power obstructive pulmonary illness. She was 77.

Her demise was introduced by her household and Los Angeles’ Ebony Repertory Theatre.


Kelly, who was additionally a dancer, choreographer and singer, had her breakthrough position of Helene in Bob Fosse’s 1969 movie Candy Charity, sharing the display with star Shirley MacLaine and Chita Rivera in such musical numbers as “There’s Gotta Be One thing Higher Than This” and the showstopper “Hey, Massive Spender.” She’d already performed the position in a West Finish stage manufacturing.

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Different movie credit embrace The Andromeda Pressure (1971), Uptown Saturday Evening (1974) and As soon as Upon a Time When We Had been Coloured (1995).


Kelly appeared in quite a few TV sequence from the 1970s via the ’90s, together with Sanford & Son, Medical Middle, The Streets of San Francisco, Police Lady and The Richard Pryor Present. In a single memorable efficiency, she performed an conceited physician referred to as upon to deal with the younger Janet Jackson’s character in a 1979 episode of CBS’ Good Occasions.

From left: Paula Kelly, Shirley Maclaine and Chita Rivera in ‘Candy Charity’
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In 1984, she earned an Emmy nomination for Excellent Supporting Actress in a Comedy Sequence for her efficiency as Evening Courtroom‘s public defender Liz Williams.

Her second supporting actress Emmy nomination got here in in 1989, when she performed the lesbian Theresa within the two-night miniseries The Ladies of Brewster Place, produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

Different tv credit embrace a mid-’80s run on daytime’s Santa Barbara and co-choreographing, with Michael Kidd, BBC’s 1976 presentation of Peter Pan.

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On stage, Kelly appeared in Don’t Trouble Me, I Can’t Cope on the Mark Taper Discussion board (for which she received a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle finest supporting actress award), the West Coast premiere of Subtle Girls reverse Gregory Hines on the Shubert Theatre and Stevie Needs to Play the Blues directed by Simon Callow at L.A.T.C.

Kelly got here out of retirement in 2009 to affix the forged of Ebony Repertory Theatre’s manufacturing of Crowns by Regina Taylor at L.A.’s Nate Holden Performing Arts Middle; the manufacturing later moved to Pasadena Playhouse.

“Her unassuming management was marked by compassion, class and beauty,” stated Ebony Repertory Theatre producing inventive director Wren T. Brown. “She was a uncommon and gifted artist, whom we’ll cherish eternally.” 

Kelly’s dance credit embrace solos for Martha Graham, Donald MacKayle and Alvin Ailey. Raised in New York Metropolis’s Harlem neighborhood, Kelly attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia Excessive Faculty of Music & Artwork earlier than graduating from Julliard Faculty of Music, the place she studied underneath Graham.

Kelly is  is survived by her aunt Pearl Mackey of Jacksonville, Florida; longtime companion George Parkington; niece Dina McCarthy and nephew Lehman Brockett.

A celebration of Kelly’s life might be held in Los Angeles on the Nate Holden Performing Arts Middle. Particulars might be introduced at a later date.