Monday, February 13, 2012

David Kelly: R.I.P.

From The Guardian comes the news that Irish actor David Kelly has died at the age of 82:

Perhaps best known in recent years for playing Grandpa Joe in Tim Burton's movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), a performance that was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy.

Kelly was a tall and flamboyant figure who was often cast as a comic, eccentric Irishman, notably as Albert Riddle, an incompetent, one-armed dish-washer in the late 1970s British sitcom Robin's Nest; he could always play up to stereotype, and beyond, in his extravagant facial and physical gestures.

His career spanned over 50 years, and he never considered retirement. Equally, he would never accept a role unless he felt he could add something unique and personal to it.

Although he was always strangely noticeable in mediocre 1970s sitcoms such as Oh, Father! (with Derek Nimmo) – and played a hapless builder, O'Reilly, in the second episode of Fawlty Towers – he distinguished himself, and first endeared himself to a television audience, in RTÉ's 1980 series Strumpet City, based on James Plunkett's novel about the Dublin lock-out, also starring Peter O'Toole, Cyril Cusack and Peter Ustinov.

He maintained his popularity in two long-running television soaps both set in fictional villages in County Wicklow: Glenroe, the first RTÉ series to be shown (from 1991) with Irish subtitles, and the BBC's Ballykissangel, screened from 1996 to 2001.

Kelly worked consistently in movies from 1969, when he played the vicar in a funeral scene in The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine. He appeared again with Caine in Terence Young's spy movie The Jigsaw Man (1984).

His most notable movie appearances in the 1990s were in two delightful Irish movies: Mike Newell's Into the West (1992), scripted by Jim Sheridan, with Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin, in which he played an old storyteller in a community of travellers; and Kirk Jones's Waking Ned (1998) in which, with his best friend, played by Ian Bannen, he engineered a small village's response to an unexpected lottery windfall and set about fooling the claims inspector. He appeared with Kevin Spacey in the Irish crime caper Ordinary Decent Criminal (1999), and with Helen Mirren and Clive Owen in Greenfingers (2000).


vallerose said...

I saw him in Waking Ned Devine: He was terrific and the movie is delightful. always sad to her about a favorite dieing.

Dutcher said...

I first saw him in Waking Ned Devine and loved him in is a great loss. Thank you for listing some of his other roles. Will make a point of watching them.