The actor Frank Kelly, best known for his controversial priest Father Jack in Father Ted has died
Kelly appeared on stage and screen for almost 60yrs in Ireland and was one of the most well recognised faces on numerous channels in Ireland and the UK.
His most iconic character was as Father Jack on Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted from 1995 to 1998. He won a Jacob’s Award for his part in Hall’s Pictorial Weekly, where he played councillor Parnell Mooney.
He also appeared in RTÉ soap Glenroe between 1999 and 2001 and later spent five months on the cast of ITV soap Emmerdale. In 2014 he appeared as the judge in Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie.
Kelly’s first film role was as a prison officer in The Italian Job in 1969, escorting Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) out of prison in the film’s opening sequence.
He also scored a No 8 hit in Ireland and a No 26 hit in the UK in December 1983 as Gobnaith O’Lunacy with A Christmas Countdown, a comedy version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Despite challenges for air play, it was another recently passed Irish man Terry Wogan who ensured it was played on BBC Radio 2.
The Irish acting veteran passed away exactly 18 years since the death of his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan, who also died on a Sunday. Dermot Morgan’s son, Don Morgan, remarked on the coincidence in a tweet.
— Don Morgan (@gutenmorgan) February 28, 2016
Father Ted writer Graham Linehan expressed his sadness also by social media.
Just hearing from various sources that Frank Kelly has passed away. Terribly sad news. Thanks for everything, Frank.
— Graham Linehan (@Glinner) February 28, 2016
Last November, Kelly revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“I’ve been working as an actor for over 50 years, and a shaky hand certainly won’t stop me. I remain open to offers for work on stage and screen. I’m quite available and my mobile is always on.” he said at the time.
“It was my first diagnosis, but I’m quietly confident that I’ve had this for years and years,” he said.
Kelly said that the Parkinson’s symptoms increased after diagnosis but then yielded slightly. “But if you are watching what you are doing, you can control it. It doesn’t interfere with your work, it doesn’t interfere with anything.
“You might have heard of the American actor Michael J Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 22 years ago and is still working today. I’m the same.”
— Pete Ruddy (@thepeteruddy) February 28, 2016
— RTÉ2 (@RTE2) February 28, 2016
Kelly is survived by his wife of 51 years Bairbre, 7 children and 17 grandchildren.