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Phyllis Kennedy

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Phyllis Kennedy
in Coney Island (1943)
Born(1914-06-16)June 16, 1914
DiedDecember 29, 1998(1998-12-29) (aged 84)
Years active1932–1968

Phyllis Kennedy (June 16, 1914 – December 29, 1998) was an American film actress.

Early life

She was born in Detroit, Michigan[citation needed] on June 16, 1914. Following her high school graduation in 1932, she got employment as a clothes model in a local department store. During her modeling period, one of her friends recommended that she try her hand at acting. She began her acting career on the New York stage in a small role in a 1935 production of Jane Eyre. Soon, she decided to try her hand in the film industry. Around 1935, she broke her back while dancing in a show in Denver and was told she would never dance again.[1] Two years later, she was able to dance again.[2]

Hollywood years

Kennedy was noticed by Ginger Rogers when she performed as a chorus girl in Shall We Dance?[3] She did some comedy dances for Rogers offstage, which impressed the other actress.[4][5] This relationship led to her being cast as a maid in Stage Door with Rogers and Katharine Hepburn.[3] She was eventually signed onto RKO Radio.[6] She then began getting parts in films playing dimwitted servants; most notably in such films as Vivacious Lady (1938), Mother Carey's Chickens (1938), Love Affair (1939), East Side of Heaven (1939), and Anne of Windy Poplars (1940).

Well into the 1940s Kennedy made over twenty film appearances although a lot of her film roles were uncredited. In later years she made appearances on shows like the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Missourians, and The Lone Ranger. She also appeared as an uncredited Cockney in the film My Fair Lady (1964). Her last screen appearance was in Finian's Rainbow in 1968 in an uncredited role.

Later years and personal life

During her time in Hollywood, although she never elevated to real star status, Kennedy became friends with a great many reputable actors. They included: Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, William Powell, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, James Cagney, Rosalind Russell, and Loretta Young.

Kennedy was a Methodist[7] and a registered Republican who supported Dwight Eisenhower's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.[8]

After her 1968 retirement, she continued to live comfortably in Los Angeles, CA for the remainder of her life. In her later years she took up painting, collected commemorative spoons, and she had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Dorian; she had a love for animals and when she was able she would make contributions to the Doris Day Animal League; Day was one of Kennedy's Hollywood friends. She had a deep love for letter writing and she would frequently write letters to her friends and relatives. Being able to "adjust to the times" she traded in her typewriter and learned how to use a computer which she would later own and type her letters from there with the help of a housekeeper who would show her how to adjust the margins for her Christmas letters.

On December 29, 1998, Kennedy, who neither married nor had any children, died at her home from natural causes. Her cremains were scattered into the Garden of Roses at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[citation needed]

Partial filmography



  1. ^ "'Stage Door' House Maid Gets Break". The Tampa Tribune. 1937-12-05. p. 43. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  2. ^ "Windfall". Oakland Tribune. 1937-11-28. p. 44. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  3. ^ a b "Phyllis Kennedy, a chorus girl in". Chicago Tribune. 1937-06-11. p. 27. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  4. ^ "Chorine Phyllis Kennedy". Oakland Tribune. 1937-07-11. p. 56. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  5. ^ "Ginger Rogers has become the idol of Phyllis". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1937-08-24. p. 28. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  6. ^ a b "Phyllis Kennedy Signed for 'Vivacious Lady'". The Baltimore Sun. 1937-12-05. p. 51. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  7. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  8. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
  9. ^ "Little Chorus Dancer Blooms as Comedienne". Hartford Courant. 1937-06-13. p. 19. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  10. ^ "Fay Bainter in 'Mother Carey's Chickens'". The Los Angeles Times. 1938-04-25. p. 11. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  11. ^ "Hippodrome". The Mercury. 1938-09-12. p. 6. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  12. ^ "Movieland Jottings and Castings". The Los Angeles Times. 1938-11-05. p. 25. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  13. ^ "The Movie Lots Beg to Report". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1939-03-07. p. 17. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  14. ^ Tinee, Mae (1942-11-23). "It Seems Almost Certain Mae Didn't Like This Picture". Chicago Tribune. p. 20. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  15. ^ "Add to Cohan Film". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 1941-12-30. p. 6. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  16. ^ AFI 1999, p. 68.
  17. ^ "House Maids Galore!". The Miami News. 1943-05-25. p. 4. Retrieved 2017-10-24 – via
  18. ^ AFI 1999, p. 711.
  19. ^ AFI 1999, p. 414-415.
  20. ^ AFI 1999, p. 544.


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