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The Original Velma Kelly

March 12, 2012 by staff 

The Original Velma Kelly, Velma Kelly is one of the main characters in the successful Broadway musical Chicago. The Velma Kelly in Chicago: The Movie is a nightclub singer/vaudevillian who was accused of murder of her husband and sister.

She is sent to the Cook County Jail where she hires the best soliciting lawyer, Billy Flynn. Singing and dancing, and telling her side of the story, Kelly goes through her time at jail being the star until Roxie Hart comes into the picture.
Velma Kelly’s character was based on a woman named Belva Gaertner. Belva was a cabaret singer who had been married and divorced twice. After those men had come and gone, she had a lover named Walter Law, who she thought was the right man for her. On March 11, 1924, Belva shot Law, who was already married with one child.

Law was found with a bottle of gin and a gun that had three shots fired next to him in the front seat of Belva’s car. The next day, she was found at her apartment with bloody clothes on the floor. She claimed that she had been drunk and couldn’t remember what had happened.

She was arrested for the murder of Walter Law on March 12, 1924. When she was getting interviewed by Maurine Watkins, she told her “gin and guns- either one is bad enough, but together they get you in a dickens of a mess, don’t they.” In court, her defense was that he could’ve committed suicide, and was released in June 1924. She remarried her husband William Gaertner and was later convicted of drunk driving in 1926. In 1927, she attended the opening of Watkins play Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

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