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Sam Kelly

Sam Kelly

Sam Kelly was a British screen and stage actor who was best known for his various roles on several popular British sitcoms. Born in Manchester and raised in Liverpool, Kelly briefly worked as a clerk for the city of Liverpool, before deciding to follow his dream of becoming an actor. He subsequently quit his cushy government job and enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. While studying at the school, Kelly honed his acting chops by performing at local theaters in and around London. By the time he graduated in 1967, Kelly was booking stage performances throughout England, and quickly began to make a living off his art. Before long he started landing small roles on British TV shows and movies while building a reputation as a talented comedic performer. His big break came in 1974 when he landed the role of the loveable prison inmate Bunny Warren on the British sitcom "Porridge" (BBC 1974-77). The immediate success of the show turned Kelly into a celebrity in his native country seemingly overnight, and by the time the series ended, Kelly had become one of the most recognizable faces on British television. He continued working at a prolific rate throughout the late '70s and early '80s, nabbing parts in both movies and TV, before landing the role of the bumbling German army officer Captain Hans Geering on the British sitcom "'Allo, 'Allo!" (BBC1, 1982-1992). The show was a huge success, and further cemented Kelly's growing status as one of the most popular comedic talents on Britain's small screen. Kelly left "'Allo, Allo!" after the third season to capitalize on his growing fame, and over the course of the next two decades he diversified his craft by also becoming a prominent stage actor, appearing in plays on London's famed West End. In addition to his blooming stage career, Kelly continued to act in movies and TV throughout the '80s and '90s, and in 1995 his TV career received a late period resurgence when he nabbed the part of the title character's husband on the British sitcom "Barbara" (ITV 1995-2003). Kelly returned to the stage in 2009, playing the Wizard in the "Wizard of Oz"-themed musical, "Wicked," but by the early 2010s his acting output began to slow down. Already diagnosed with cancer, Kelly was admitted to hospice care, where he died on June 14, 2014 at the age of 70.
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