Paula Alma Kelly was an American actress, singer, dancer and choreographer in films, television and theatre. Kelly’s career began during the mid–1960s in theatre, making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Veloz in the 1964 musical Something More!, alongside Barbara Cook.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Kelly was one of three daughters born to Ruth and Lehman Kelly, a jazz musician. By age six, Kelly’s family had relocated to Harlem neighborhood of New York City. For high school, Kelly attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, majoring in music. Kelly continued her studies at the Juilliard School of Music, where she majored in dance under Martha Hill. Graduating in 1964 with an M.S. degree, Kelly performed as a soloist with major modern dance companies such as Martha Graham, Donald McKayle, and Alvin Ailey.
On September 15, 1985, Kelly married British film director Don Chaffey. They had one child together, a daughter. Kelly remained married to Chaffey until his death in November 1990. Kelly died of heart failure on February 8, 2020 at age 77.