David Kelly Irish British

February 28, 2012 by staff 

David Kelly Irish British, Irish character actor David Kelly, whose 70-year career in stage, films and TV included some n*ked motorcycling in “Waking Ned Devine,” has died in Dublin at age 82. No cause of death was given. Kelly was best known to American audiences as the Irish villager who motorcycled down a muddy country lane in only helmet, socks and shoes in the 1998 comedy hit “Waking Ned Devine.” Kelly, who earned a SAG nomination for that role, later would joke that his career took off when he was in his 70s, once casting agents finally knew about his sxy body.

He also played Charlie Bucket’s grandfatherly escort in Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Irish and British audiences remember him best as a work-dodging Irish builder opposite John Cleese in a 1975 episode of “Fawlty Towers.” He also played a dim-witted, one-armed dishwasher in the late 1970s British sitcom “Robin’s Nest.”

In Ireland, Kelly was a highly praised Dublin stage actor in the 1950s and ’60s. He also depicted doomed tenement dweller Rashers Tierney in the 1980 Irish historical miniseries “Strumpet City.”

Born in Dublin and educated in the city’s Catholic schools, Kelly got his start on the Dublin stage at age 8. He was honored for lifetime achievement at the 2005 Irish Film and Television Awards ceremony.

A longtime colleague, Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan, noted Kelly’s old-school charms, punctuated by his propensity for bow ties and smart suits.

“In rehearsal he had a biting wit. He wouldn’t do a part unless he knew he could bring something to it no one else could,” Colgan said.

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