Cecil Kellaway is among a handful of older character actors active during Hollywood's heyday who brought to the screen a delectable combination of warmth, kindliness and good cheer that I call "old guy charm." Other members of this twinkly-eyed pack of golden boys include the likes of sweet and snuggly S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, shyly unassuming Henry Travers, rascally Charles Ruggles and spry ol' Harry Davenport.
Kellaway, who seemed to personify the very essence of "classic Irishman" on the screen - he was Oscar-nominated for his role as a leprechaun in The Luck of the Irish (1948) and for his portrayal of Monsignor Ryan in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - was born in Capetown, South Africa in 1890 and schooled in both his native country and in England. Though he studied and briefly practiced engineering, young Cecil was drawn to the footlights. After leaving his profession to go on the stage he toured through Asia, other parts of Africa and Europe before returning home and gaining recognition as a comedian. Then he was off to Australia in 1921 and there, over the next 16 years, the actor built his reputation in the theater.
|Cecil Kellaway as Horace (a leprechaun) with Tyrone Power, The Luck of the Irish|
|Katharine Hepburn with Cecil Kellaway as Monsignor Ryan in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner|
He was cherubic-looking, with what seemed a barely suppressed chuckle in his voice - no wonder that his screen roles were usually genial and often lovable. He is so charming as Dr. Chumley in Harvey that it would have surprised no one (including Elwood P. Dowd) if the towering rabbit had taken up with him permanently.
|Cecil Kellaway as Dr. Chumley and James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey|
|Frank and Cora confirm their reservations at the Hotel Hades in The Postman Always Rings Twice|
|Who killed John Mayhew? Mary Astor and Cecil Kellaway in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte|