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Grandpa Joe David Kelly

February 28, 2012 by staff 

Grandpa Joe David Kelly, Irish character actor David Kelly, who played Grandpa Joe in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and motorcycled nak*d in “Waking Ned Devine,” has died. He was 82.

His family and friends said Kelly died Sunday in Dublin after an acting career on stage, film, TV and radio that spanned a half-century. His cause of death was not announced.

Kelly was best known in Ireland for his 1980 depiction of doomed tenement dweller Rashers Tierney in the historical miniseries “Strumpet City” and for his large body of work as a Dublin stage actor in the 1950s and 1960s.

British and Irish TV viewers also could recognize his face and bony frame from short, usually comedic turns on myriad soaps and sitcoms, most memorably 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.”

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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