21 May 2016


by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 21 May 2016

A beautiful woman delights the eye; a wise woman, the understanding; a pure one, the soul. Minna Antrim

Julia Roberts, a pretty woman, played the lead in the hit movie Pretty Woman. She was a delight to the eye! Wise? She proved that. Pure? Not so much. But she was acting. 

A great aunt, a pretty woman, had the video and never tired of watching it. 

But Ms Roberts was not the only pretty woman in that film.

One of the others a friend of mine. 

Her part was to look pretty and classy in the background during the polo scenes. She did. 

A week ago news came to me that pretty woman died a week prior - two weeks ago today.

Amidst the chaos of daily life I have thought about her with intent to say a few words in this forum. Finally, most of those words have come to me. 

I first met Sue Kelly ten years ago. 

She, sister of another friend, was among a handful who took my painting course. I did not know anything about her background other than she was a partner in an estate management and antique business, and though not new to painting she wanted to improve.

I found Sue to be warm and funny and kind. And though somewhat timid holding a paint brush she was a quick study.

Later I learned that before we met Sue had bought a small landscape I'd painted in Joshua Tree National Park.

And I learned about her acting career - that she had supporting rolls in popular TV programs and movies. If memory serves me correctly, Designing Women, Murder She Wrote, and Matlock among them. Movies, other than Pretty Woman, escape me at the moment but the titles as recognizable as the TV programs.

Sue acted in our community - in tiny theaters ranging from a dozen or so seats to about 100 and that's SRO. Our venues are small and intimate with the audience seated mere feet from the actors. The bad seats are really good and the good seats great. Everyone should experience that sort of live theater performed by pros. 

I saw Sue a handful of times in all sorts of roles. Typically she was lead but once or twice not. What I remember was her command of the stage, role notwithstanding. 

She was good - in spotlight or not.

In analogy, as to supporting role, I think of the importance of a small shape or color in a painting. It's not the focal point but remove it and the painting collapses. 

Sue was like that. Her acting so good, even in the background, she held your attention. She made her own spotlight.

More than once on the drive home from the theater I wondered if the play would have been as good without her. 

Doubtful always the conclusion. 

From what I knew of Sue, she fit Minna Antrim's opening quote to the letter. Ms. Antrim also said, "The drama of life begins with a wail and ends with a sigh." It sure does. And in between that wail and sigh, we're all, to some degree, actors.  

My pleasure to have taught Sue, more so to have learned from her, and to call her friend. Whenever our paths crossed she always beamed and had a few minutes to chit chat.

Sue Kelly was a humble talent. She was a delight. 

Tomorrow afternoon family and friends and actors, with Sue center stage, rally to celebrate her remarkable life. Some will wail. Some will sigh. 

I'll be there. 

Take a moment...

Sue Kelly, as remembered in our local paper:

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