David Patrick Kelly

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David Patrick Kelly
St.Jude .jpg
Born (1951-01-23) January 23, 1951 (age 70)
Alma materUniversity of Detroit (BFA)
OccupationActor, musician
Years active1976–present
(m. 2005)

David Patrick Kelly (born January 23, 1951) is an American actor, musician and lyricist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is best known for his role as the main antagonist, Luther, in the cult film The Warriors (1979). Kelly is also known for his collaborations with Spike Lee, in the films Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), and Chi-Raq (2015), and with David Lynch, appearing in Wild at Heart (1990) as well as Twin Peaks (1990–91) and its 2017 revival.

Kelly's other credits include roles in 48 Hrs. (1982), Commando (1985), The Crow (1994), The Funeral and Last Man Standing (both 1996), The Longest Yard (2005), as President Harry S. Truman in Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and a recurring role in The Blacklist (2015).

Early life[edit]

Kelly was born in Detroit, Michigan to Margaret Elizabeth (Murphy) and Robert Corby Kelly, an accountant.[1][2] His father received a Bronze Star Medal for service during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. His grandfather, Daniel Murphy, was from Lisnashearshane, Duhallow, County Cork, Ireland. His great-grand-uncle was Father William Corby, chaplain of the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg. As detailed in Corby's book, Memoir of Chaplain Life: 3 Years With the Irish Brigade, Father Corby eventually became president of the University of Notre Dame.[3][4]

Kelly was given a mandolin on Saint Patrick's Day 1964 by his mother and considers that to have been the greatest influence on his artistic life.[5]

As an undergraduate student, Kelly wrote the lyrics and music for four musicals produced in Detroit. These four productions were Lysistrata (by Aristophanes), The World from My Window (based on a book of children's poems), a project based on Gulliver's Travels (in the land of horses) and Home for Silent Clowns, a mime show with songs.[citation needed]

Kelly graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Detroit, and was also a student of Marcel Marceau and Mira Rostova.[6]



In his debut role of Luther in the 1979 cult film The Warriors, Kelly screeches the famous line, "Warriors...come out to play-ee-ay!!", which he improvised while clanging three empty beer bottles together.[7] In the 1982 film 48 Hrs., starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, director Walter Hill rewrote a role for Kelly and again named the character "Luther".[7]

Kelly's film credits include Commando (1985), in which he played Sully, The Crow, Crooklyn, Hammett, Wild at Heart, Dreamscape, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Last Man Standing, Songcatcher, K-PAX, the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, Flags of Our Fathers, John Wick (reprising his role as Charlie in John Wick: Chapter Two), and Chi-Raq. He also appeared in the 1996 video game Ripper.[7]


Kelly's television guest appearances include Twin Peaks, Miami Vice, Moonlighting, Spenser: For Hire, Ghostwriter, Third Watch, Hack, Kidnapped, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gossip Girl, Louie, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, and Feed the Beast.[8]


He performed in a few Off-Off-Broadway theater productions during the 1970s and 1980s. These included Wilford Leach's C.O.R.F.A.X. (Don't Ask), produced at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in 1975,[9] and Ireneusz Iredyński's An Altar to Himself, as adapted by Michal Kobialka and Liz Diamond and directed by Virlana Tkacz at La MaMa in 1989.[10] He also appeared in the April 1974 production of Mr. Jello, written and directed by George Birimisa,[11] and then performed a song for which he wrote the music from Mr. Jello, at a benefit hosted by La MaMa to honor H.M. Koutoukas, called "For the Benefit of Harry", also in 1974.[12] In 1976, he performed in La MaMa's "Cracker Club Country Fair Gala" in segments from Paul Foster's Silver Queen and Leonard Melfi's Horse Opera.[13]

Kelly originated the role of Da in Once on Broadway, which was awarded the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1998, he played Feste in the Lincoln Center production of Twelfth Night.[14]

Kelly has frequently appeared at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut, starring in the title roles in Georg Buchner's Woyzeck and Molière's Tartuffe. He also played Iago in Othello and Hoss in Sam Shepard's Tooth Of Crime. At the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he played the title role in Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV and starred in an adaption of the Yuan dynasty classic Snow in June.

He has also appeared in four plays by avant-garde playwright Richard Foreman: Pearls for Pigs, The Mind King, Film Is Evil/Radio Is Good, and The Cure.[15][16] In 2015, he appeared as Michaud, alongside Keira Knightley, in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Thérèse Raquin in the Studio 54 space.[17]


As a composer and musician, Kelly participated in New York's rock and cabaret scene, playing such legendary venues as Max's Kansas City, Reno Sweeney's, CBGB, and The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club.[citation needed] He also wrote the music for the titular song of George Birimisa's Mr. Jello, which was produced at La MaMa in 1974.[18]

In May 2008, he released a CD of his original music titled David Patrick Kelly: Rip Van Boy Man, which contained new songs and live recordings from his club days in 1975. [19]


Kelly played Dropshadow in David Lynch's film Wild At Heart, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1990. Kelly sang and played mandolin on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack for the musical Once.[6] He received a Connecticut Critics Circle Award for his performance in Tartuffe at Hartford Stage, and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for his performance in Nathan Louis Jackson's When I Come To Die at LCT3 in Manhattan. In 1998, Kelly received an Obie Award for sustained excellence for his theater work in classics, new plays, and the avant-garde.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly married theater actress and writer Juliana Francis at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in Manhattan on August 14, 2005. They have a daughter named Margarethe Jane Kelly born in 2008.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1979 The Warriors Luther
1982 Hammett The Punk
1982 48 Hrs. Luther Kelly
1984 Dreamscape Tommy Ray Glatman
1985 Commando 'Sully'
1987 The Misfit Brigade The Legionnaire
1988 Cheap Shots Arnold Posner
1989 Penn & Teller Get Killed The Fan
1990 Wild at Heart 'Dropshadow'
1990 The Adventures of Ford Fairlane Sam
1992 Malcolm X Mr. Ostrowski
1993 Exterior Night Biff short film
1994 Crooklyn Tony 'Tony Eyes' / Jim
1994 The Crow 'T-Bird'
1995 Heavy Grey Man In The Hospital
1995 Cafe Society J. Roland Sala
1996 Flirting with Disaster Fritz Boudreau
1996 The Funeral Michael Stein
1996 Last Man Standing Doyle
1997 Trojan War Bagman
1999 In Too Deep Rick Scott
2000 Songcatcher Earl Giddens
2001 K-PAX Howie
2002 Personal Velocity: Three Portraits Peter
2003 Justice Marty
2005 The Longest Yard Unger
2006 Flags of Our Fathers President Harry S. Truman
2007 Gardener of Eden Pa Harris
2014 John Wick Charlie, The Cleaner
2015 Chi-Raq General King Kong
2016 To Keep the Light Brackett
2017 John Wick: Chapter 2 Charlie, The Cleaner
2018 O.G. Larry
2019 VFW Doug McCarthy


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Sanctuary of Fear Audience Member Television film
1982 American Playhouse Copyboy Episode: "Working"
1984 Tales from the Darkside Richard Hall Episode: "Slippage"
1985 Miami Vice Jerry Episode: "The Home Invaders"
1985 Moonlighting McBride Episode: "Somewhere Under the Rainbow"
1985 Our Family Honor Terry Jurow Episode: "The Casino"
1987 Spenser: For Hire Kevin Harley / Ned Lloyd 2 episodes
1988 ABC Afterschool Special Unknown Episode: "Date Rape"
1989 CBS Summer Playhouse Langley Episode: "B-Men"
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Jerry Horne 9 episodes
1993 Ghostwriter 'Double-T' 5 episodes
1998 Mad About You Cabbie With Chicken Episode: "Season Opener"
2002 Hack Eddie O'Daniel Episode: "Favors"
2005 Third Watch Danny McGowan Episode: "Forever Blue"
2007 Kidnapped Kurso Episode: "Acknowledgement"
2008 Law & Order Josh Perlberg Episode: "Political Animal"
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Bo Levy Episode: "Reunion"
2008–2011 Gossip Girl Noah Shapiro 3 episodes
2010 Louie Therapist 2 episodes
2010 Madso's War Danny Driscoll Television film
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Orville Underwood Episode: "Possessed"
2011 Bored to Death Jerry Episode: "Nothing I Can't Handle by Running Away"
2015 Blue Bloods Donald Berry Episode: "Bad Company"
2015 The Blacklist Heinrich Gerst 4 episodes
2016 Feed the Beast Ziggy Woichik 8 episodes
2017 Twin Peaks Jerry Horne 7 episodes
2018 Succession Paul Chambers Episode: "Which Side Are You On?"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Ripper Joey Falconetti Interactive movie


  1. ^ Weddings: Margaret Elizabeth Murphy and Robert Corby Kelly, The New York Times. Accessed December 22, 2017.
  2. ^ GrossePointeNews.com Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine; accessed December 22, 2017.
  3. ^ "Past Presidents/University of Notre Dame". Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Corby, William (1992). Memoir of Chaplain Life: 3 Years With the Irish Brigade. Internet Archive.
  5. ^ "Luther from 'The Warriors' plays the dad in the Broadway musical Once. Entertainment Weekly. March 17, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Juliana Francis and David Kelly". The New York Times. August 14, 2005.
  7. ^ a b c Biography for David Patrick Kelly at IMDb.
  8. ^ David Patrick Kelly at IMDb
  9. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: C.O.R.F.A.X. (Don't Ask) (1975)". Accessed July 18, 2018.
  10. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: An Altar to Himself (1989)". Accessed July 18, 2018.
  11. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Program and flyer: "Mr. Jello" (1974)". Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  12. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Special Event: 'For the Benefit of Harry' (1974)". Accessed July 18, 2018.
  13. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Special Event: 'Cracker Club Country Fair Gala' (1976)". Accessed July 18, 2018.
  14. ^ David Patrick Kelly at the Internet Broadway Database Edit this at Wikidata.
  15. ^ McGrath, Sean (January 3, 1998). "Fourteen Years of "Mind Attacks" With David Patrick Kelly". Playbill.
  16. ^ Theater listings compiled by Ruth Gilbert (January 6, 1992). New York, p. 74.
  17. ^ Thérèse Raquin Archived 2017-07-13 at the Wayback Machine. Roundabouttheatre.org. Accessed December 22, 2017.
  18. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Mr. Jello (1974)". Accessed July 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "CD Baby Rip Van Boy Man".

External links[edit]