Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kelly began his career as a child actor at age 7 and was appearing on the stage. In 1911 Kelly began making silent films at age 12 with the Vitagraph Studios, which was based in Brooklyn, and where he was billed as Master Paul Kelly. Kelly was possibly the first male child actor to be given any starring roles in American films predating better known child stars such as Bobby Connelly and Jackie Coogan. Kelly appeared in over one hundred movies including the films made during his boyhood career. Later as an adult Kelly appeared in films mostly as a tough guy character actor in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
Dorothy MackayePrison term
His career momentum was briefly halted with a two-year (1927-1929) forced hiatus when he spent 25 months in California's San Quentin prison for beating to death actor Ray Raymond in a fistfight. Raymond's widow, Dorothy MacKaye, later married Kelly. She was briefly imprisoned for being an accomplice in the murder. Kelly later played the part of San Quentin Warden Clinton Duffy in the movie Duffy of San Quentin.
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 1932's Broadway Through a Keyhole. In 1948, Kelly won a Best Actor Tony Award his role in Command Decision. The award was shared with Henry Fonda for Mister Roberts and Basil Rathbone for The Heiress.
Susan Cabot and Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly died of a heart attack in 1956, aged 57. His interment was located at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.