Carole Kelly Bishop, better known by her middle name Kelly, is an American actress and dancer. Her fame surrounds her roles as Emily Gilmore in the hit show Gilmore Girls and Majorie Houseman in the renowned film Dirty Dancing.
On February 28th, 1944, she was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has received several awards throughout her time in the entertainment industry. Some of those awards include a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award, which will be further discussed as we journey deeper into her life, experiencing Kelly Bishop young and vibrant in her debut years, as well as where she is now.
Kelly is somewhat of a private person, not having appeared in many public photos outside of her career. Still, when she is captured, her beauty and sophistication resonate well beyond the lens and into the hearts of those around her.
Young Kelly Bishop:
1. A High School Headshot Of Kelly Bishop
A young Kelly Bishop smiles brightly for a high school picture taken in black and white in this photo. Although Kelly was born in Colorado Springs, she grew up in Denver and attended high school at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in San Jose, training to become a ballet dancer.
Upon graduating at 18, she moved to New York City and acquired her first job as a dancer in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall.
2. Kelly Posing In A Unitard And Heels
Kelly continued pursuing her passion for dancing at Las Vegas, Summer Stock, an American Theatre that presents stage productions only in the summer.
While being a shining star in Vegas, she was also dancing on television until she was cast in Golden Rainbow in 1968. This was her first Broadway role taken place at the Shubert Theatre in midtown Manhattan, New York.
3. On Stage In A Scene From ‘A Chorus Line’
When Kelly Bishop was cast as Sheila, a very enticing and attractive character in the Broadway production A Chorus Line, she had made her name in the industry, kick-starting her career.
Her performance had earned her a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a Musical and a Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
4. Kelly As Emily Gilmore In Gilmore Girls
From 2000 to 2007, Kelly starred in Gilmore Girls, an American comedy-drama, as the wealthy New England Matriarch Emily Gilmore. She continued her role in the miniseries, available on Netflix, called Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.
The show never received large ratings but was critically acclaimed for its witty and fun dialogue and ability to present a fair balance of comedy and drama. Most people recognize Kelly for her participation in the WB production.
5. The Cast Of An Unmarried Woman In A Bar Scene
In this photo, Kelly Bishop, playing her role as Elaine, sits at a bar and engages in scripted conversation with her female co-stars. She was cast alongside Jill Clayburgh in this drama film by Paul Marzursky.
The film that surrounds Jill as the lead role, trying to adjust to being single, was nominated for three Academy Awards: the nominations were for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Jill Clayburgh’s performance.
6. Kelly Sitting At A Dinner Table In Dirty Dancing
In 1987 Kelly appeared in the film Dirty Dancing as Mrs. Houseman. She was initially set to receive a much smaller role but claimed a bigger one when the initial actress fell ill during the first week of shooting the movie. This is also one of her most recognized roles in her television years.
In several reports, Kelly admitted her nervousness for playing a role in a film with a title that seemed controversial but also expressed her gratitude for the broadened outlook on life her reprising role had given her.
7. A Collage Of Kelly Bishop Young
In 1997 Kelly played the role of a mother to Howard Stern in the comedy film titled Private Parts. The film was directed by Betty Thomas and recalled the life of Howard from the beginning of his career to a life of fame.
On a talk show called Couch Surfing, Kelly opened up about not being a fan of Howard before working with him on the film. She stated that she had taken the role because she knew Allison Janney (a fellow cast member) and wanted to work with her.
In the end, Kelly’s impression of Howard was that of a little kid but not a bad guy. She enjoyed her experience during this time.
8. A Gorgeous Photo Of Kelly Bishop Posing In A Black Top
Kelly also played the role of Amanda Leer, the mother of Toby Maguire’s character in Wonder Boys, released in 2000. The film follows a professor who is struggling with writer’s block while also trying to deal with his love life and the problems of a favored, troubled student.
9. Kelly And A Co-Star In A Black And White Still From The Thorns
In 1988, Kelly appeared in the television show, The Thorns, where she starred as Ginger Thorn opposite actors Tony Roberts and Marilyn Cooper. The American sitcom lasted only for about two months, having only one season.
The show was about a couple who could never be on the same page, trying to become socialites while juggling their children and an elderly family member moving in with them.
10. Kelly Bishop And Sutton Foster Posing For Anything Goes
In 2016, Kelly reunited with Amy Sherman-Palladino for the show Bunheads, a ballet-focused TV show with characters finding their lives colliding in entertaining ways.
After working on Anything Goes with Sutton Foster, Amy, who is also the writer of Gilmore Girls, was enticed with Sutton and decided to cast her as a leading lady in Bunheads, alongside Kelly.
11. A Shot Of Kelly In Law And Order
During her time on television, Kelly Bishop acquired guest-starring roles on several shows, including Kate and Allie, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Murphy Brown.
In the Law & Order series, Kelly played three different characters-Marion Borland in the episode titled ‘intolerance’ for Law & Order, the registrar in the episode titled ‘slaves’ for SVU, and defense attorney Julia Zimmer in the episodes ‘persona’ and ‘zebras’ for SVU as well.
12. Kelly And A Fan At Flood’s Hill
In 2015, Kelly presented a free movie showing of her movie Dirty Dancing at Flood’s Hill, a part of SOPAC and South Orange’s “Moonlit Movies” series. Tons of fans who fell in love with her in Dirty Dancing and Gilmore Girls stood in line to meet her and express their gratitude for her impact on their lives.
Sheena Collum, the village President and event Host, also expressed her gratitude and excitement to Kelly and her generous appearance in the community.
13. Kelly On The Red Carpet On Opening Night At The Theatre
Upon the end of Gilmore Girls, Kelly returned to the theatre, performing in Becky Shaw at the Second Stage Theatre in 2008, where it was premiered at Humana Festival. This play became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
She also briefly performed as Evangeline Harcourt’s character in the revival of Anything Goes in 2011. Her appearance was alongside Sutton Foster and Joel Grey.
14. Kelly Sitting On A Couch With Fellow Cast Mates Of Six Degrees
In 1993, Kelly was also cast in a few Broadway Productions, including Six Degrees Of Separation, Neil Simon’s ‘Proposals,’ The Last Night Of Ballyhoo, and Bus Stop.
The original production of Six Degrees Of Separation opened in 1990 and was recast in 1993, landing Kelly a spot on stage. The Last Night Of Ballyhoo won a Tony Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway play.
15. Kelly Making Her Premier Appearance In A New Show
In 2021, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, released in 2017, announced the arrival of Kelly Bishop for their fourth season. The show is staged in the late 1950s.
It follows the unexpecting journey of Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a prestigious woman with a seemingly perfect New York life who discovers her talent for comedy. As of right now, information on Kelly’s role has not been discussed publicly and will remain something for her fans and fans of the show to anticipate knowing.
16. Kelly And New Co-Star Ewan McGregor During Filming In New York
Today Kelly lives in South Orange, New Jersey as a Widow due to the passing of her late husband Lee Leonard in 2018. Lee was a television talk show host who was also involved in launching networks ESPN and CNN.
Kelly has been recently seen in several photos, like this one taken in New York City, working on a new Netflix series titled ‘Simply Halston’ with her co-star Ewan Mcgregor. She is still as beautiful as ever, fulfilling her dreams of performing, whether it is on stage or screen.