Walter C. Kelly

Walter C. Kelly (October 29, 1873 – January 6, 1939) was a Vaudeville comedian and actor.

He was born in Mineville, New York. He was the brother of Jack Kelly (Olympic Gold Medalist and father of actress Grace Kelly) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright George Kelly. Kelly toured for years as The Virginia Judge, and was sometimes credited as Walter "Judge" Kelly.

Although Kelly did a number of different Southern dialects playing the various characters in his "Virginian Judge" sketches, an Irish flavor sometimes sneaked through. In one such sketch where three men appear before the Judge for "disturbin' the peace and quarrelin' on the highway", the word "highway" came through as very Irish. He released five recordings of his act on Victor Records. He also appeared in several Broadway productions.[1]

He brought the role to the movies in the 1935 Paramount film The Virginia Judge. His other movie acting roles include "'Guns' Costello" in Seas Beneath (1931);[2] "Dan McFadden" in McFadden's Flats (1935);[3] "Judge Calhoun Davis" in The Virginia Judge (1935);[4] "Capt. Zack Livermore" in Tugboat Princess (1936);[5] and "Pat Kelly" in Laughing Irish Eyes (1936).[6]

His autobiography, Of Me I Sing: An Informal Autobiography, was published in 1953. He was also the author of a 1935 short story, "The Virginia Judge", which served as the basis for the 1935 movie.[4]

On December 8, 1938, Kelly was struck by a car in Hollywood, California. He was taken to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he died on January 6, 1939, from the injuries he sustained.[7]


  1. "Walter C. Kelly". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2014-11-29.
  2. "Seas Beneath". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  3. "McFadden's Flats". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  4. "The Virginia Judge". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  5. "Tugboat Princess". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  6. "Laughing Irish Eyes". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  7. Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (2006). Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Psychology Press. pp. 627–629. ISBN 978-0-415-93853-2.
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