David Kelly, Irish actor (Fawlty Towers, Strumpet City, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) died he was 82
David Kelly was an Irish
actor, who had regular roles in several film and television works from
the 1950s onwards died he was 82. One of the most recognisable voices and faces of
Irish stage and screen, 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.
11 July 1929 – 12 or 13 February 2012; sources vary)
Early life and career
David Kelly was educated at Dublin’s Synge Street CBS Christian Brothers school. He began acting at the age of eight at the city’s Gaiety Theatre, and trained at The Abbey School of Acting. As a backup career, he additionally trained as a draughtsman and calligrapher, and also learned watercolor art. 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. By then he had made his screen debut in a small part in director John Pomeroy‘s 1958 film noir Dublin Nightmare.
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. He also had a regular long running role alongside Bruce Forsyth in both series of the comedy Slingers Day from 1986 to 1987.
In Ireland, he may be most famous for his portrayal of the character “Rashers” Tierney in the 1980 RTÉ miniseries Strumpet City, 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 found work in small but noticeable 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; The Jigsaw Man opposite Sir Laurence Olivier; 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. He died after a short illness on 12 or 13 February 2012 (sources vary) at age 82. The Irish Times referred to him as the “grand old man of Irish acting”. His funeral took place in Dublin on 16 February 2012. Kelly was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery & Crematorium.
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. As well, he earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for the 1998 film Waking Ned, In 2005, he 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.
- Dublin Nightmare (1958)
- Girl with Green Eyes (1964) – ticket collector
- Me Mammy (1968–71) – Cousin Enda
- Ulysses (1967) – Garrett Deasy
- Tales From the Lazy Acre (1972) – Dead Man
- The Italian Job (1969) – Vicar (funeral scene)
- Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width (1973)
- Fawlty Towers (1975) – O’Reilly (episode “The Builders“)
- Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) – Tom Maguire
- Philadelphia, Here I Come (1975) – Canon O’Byrne
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1977) – Dean of Studies
- Robin’s Nest (1977–1981) – Albert Riddle
- Cowboys (1980–1981)- Wobbly Ron
- Strumpet City (1980) – Rashers Tierney
- Whoops Apocalypse (1982) – Abdab
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982) – Tavernkeeper
- The Jigsaw Man (1983)
- Red Monarch (1983) – Sergo
- Anne Devlin (1984)
- Pirates (1986) – Ship’s Surgeon
- Into the West (1992) – Grandfather Reilly
- The Run of the Country (1995) – Father Gaynor
- Upwardly Mobile (1995–1997) – Barman
- Glenroe – Sylvie Dolan
- The Matchmaker (1997) – O’Connor
- Ballykissangel (1998) – Mr O’Reilly
- Waking Ned Devine (1998) – Michael O’Sullivan
- Greenfingers (2000) – Fergus Wilks
- Rough for Theatre I (2000) – A
- Mean Machine (2001) – Doc
- The Calcium Kid (2003) – Paddy O’Flannagan
- Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004) – Trival
- Laws of Attraction (2004) – Priest/Michael
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) – Grandpa Joe
- The Kovak Box (2006) – Frank Kovak
- Stardust (2007) – Guard
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