Brian Kelly (actor)

Brian Kelly (February 14, 1931 February 12, 2005) was an American actor best known for his role as Porter Ricks, the widowed father of two sons on the NBC television series Flipper, and as Scott Ross in the ABC adventure series Straightaway, with co-star John Ashley.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly, circa 1966.
Born(1931-02-14)February 14, 1931
DiedFebruary 12, 2005(2005-02-12) (aged 73)
Resting placeNew Jersey, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame (1953)
Years active1958–1970
Laura Devon
(m. 1962; div. 1966)

Valerie Anne Romero
(m. 1973)
Parent(s)Harry F. Kelly
Anne Veronica O'Brien
RelativesBrian d'Arcy James (nephew)

Early years

Kelly was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Republican Governor of Michigan Harry F. Kelly and the former Anne Veronica O'Brien. Kelly had three sisters and two brothers, one of whom was his fraternal twin. His nephew (sister's son) is actor Brian d'Arcy James.[1] He was of Irish descent.

Kelly served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. Kelly graduated in 1953 from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He attended the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor for a year before settling on acting. During his college years, Kelly modelled and acted in radio and television commercials in Detroit.

Acting career

Kelly headed to Hollywood in the late fifties after choosing acting as his career. Following minor roles in Adventures in Paradise, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Rifleman, Kelly starred in two short-lived television series, NBC's 21 Beacon Street (1959), with Dennis Morgan and Joanna Barnes,[2] and ABC's Straightaway (1961-1962) with costar John Ashley.

In 1964, Kelly took over the Chuck Connors role from the 1963 family film Flipper, playing Porter Ricks, Chief Warden at Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve and recently-widowed father of Sandy Ricks (Luke Halpin) in the 1964 sequel Flipper's New Adventure. He continued the role in the family-oriented action and adventure television program Flipper that same year. In the TV series, Porter would also have a second son, Bud (Tommy Norden). Kelly is remembered today for his strong and convincing portrayal of a morally responsible single dad. Kelly was quoted at the time as saying that he loved the role because of its family-friendly qualities. The success of Flipper, which was filmed in Miami and the Bahamas, led to a brief movie career, including a lead in Around the World Under the Sea (1966).

In 1970, Kelly sought to change his image by playing the role of Robin Stone in The Love Machine, based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann. Just prior to filming, he was involved in a motorcycle accident which left his right arm and leg paralyzed. John Phillip Law took over the role.[3] Kelly—whom Susann had called "the perfect Robin Stone"[4]—won a legal settlement in the case but the accident ended his acting career.[5]

He used money from the settlement to build homes and then to produce films. He served as executive producer of Blade Runner (1982)[5] and associate producer of Cities of the Wild (1996).

Marriages and death

Kelly was married to actress Laura Devon from 1962 until their 1966 divorce. In 1972, he married Valerie Ann Romero, with whom he had a daughter Hallie in 1975, and a son Devin in 1980. Kelly died two days shy of his 74th birthday on February 12, 2005 of pneumonia in Voorhees Township in South New Jersey.



Year Film Role Notes
1963 Thunder Island Vincent Dodge
1964 Flipper's New Adventure Porter Ricks
1966 Around the World Under the Sea Dr. Craig Mosby
1968 Shoot, Gringo... Shoot! Chad Stark
1982 Blade Runner N/A Executive Producer


Year Film Role Notes
1958 Flight Episode: "Mercy Commando"
Panic! Randy Burke Episode: "Fingerprints"
1959 21 Beacon Street Brian Episodes: "The Rub Out", "The Hostage"
Adventures in Paradise Captain Rivers Episode: "The Haunted"
1960 Insight Father Bergen Episode: "Fisher of Men"
19611962 Straightaway Scott Ross 24 episodes
1963 The Beverly Hillbillies 2nd Policeman
Officer Kelly
Episodes: "Elly's Animals", "Jed Plays Solomon"
19641967 Flipper Porter Ricks Nominated-TV Land Award for Favorite Pet-Human Relationship (2003)
1970 Company of Killers Nick Andros
Berlin Affair Paul Strand
1973 Drive Hard, Drive Fast Mark Driscoll


  2. "21 Beacon Street (1959)". Internet movie Data Base. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  3. p.360 Seaman, Barbara Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann 2003 Seven Stories Press
  4. The Love Machine (1971). IMDb. [n.d.] Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  5. "Brian Kelly - Actor in Flipper". The Independent. 25 March 2005. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
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