Paula Kelly is an American actress, singer and dancer.
Kelly was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and from six months old was raised in Harlem.
A music student at Music and Art H.S., she continued her studies at the Julliard School of Music majoring in dance under Martha Graham.
Graduating with an M.S. Degree, she performed as a soloist with major modern dance companies such as Martha Graham, Donald MacKayle, and Alvin Ailey.
On the outside 'scene,' she performed as guest artist and sometimes Assistant Choreographer for numerous Television Musical Specials.
Bob Fosse spotted her for Sweet Charity where she continued her association with the still infant Ceasar's Palace.
In the co-starring role of Helen, she and the late Juliet Prowse were the only two Americans asked to premiere the show in London, for which she won the London Variety Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Fosse summoned her for the film version opposite Shirley MacLaine. She was cast as the featured performer in the record-breaking West Coast Premiere of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope at the Mark Taper Forum and awarded the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, Variety, and the first of three NAACP Image Awards.
She moved into 'straight' acting roles in films, including The Andromeda Strain, Soylent Green, Uptown Saturday Night and the 80-year-old matriarch 'Ma Pearl' in Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored.
Television audiences saw her in Night Court, nominated for an Emmy, The Women of Brewster Place in another Emmy-nominated performance, numerous episodic and sitcom guest appearances and mini-series.
The LATC premiere of Stevie Wants to Play the Blues garnered her the ACE, Dramalogue, Variety, and LA Weekly awards for her portrayal of the singer 'Ruth' opposite Amy Madigan, with Simon Callow directing.
Co-starring opposite Gregory Hines in the West Coast premiere of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, Paula returned to the Musical Stage to write and perform her own show.