Bob Kelly, a makeup artist, wigmaker and founder of the Bob Kelly Wig Creations shop in New York City, died April 18 in Nyack, N.Y. He was 87.
Kelly provided wigs for TV, film and, especially, Broadway.
Like his grandfather, an Irishimmigrant, Kelly began his career as a wigmaker, apprenticing with Ira Senz and moving on to makeup work in his 20s. He worked first for the Metropolitan Opera House, then for CBS in the early 1950s, doing makeup for “The Phil Silvers Show,” “Your Show of Shows” and “Captain Kangaroo,” among others. In 1964, Kelly did hair and makeup for the Beatles’ first U.S. performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He also did work for films including “The Exorcist.”
He opened Bob Kelly Wig Creations in 1950 in midtown Manhattan; the shop closed in 2008, when he retired. In 1970, Kelly created the theatrical supply business Bob Kelly Cosmetics, a separate company that disbanded in 2003. Kelly supplied makeup and hair goods to Broadway productions including “South Pacific,” “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “Shrek the Musical” was the final show to which he contributed. He also provided wigs for “Saturday Night Live” for 30 years.
Kelly was born in Brooklyn and served as a U.S. Army private during WWII; he was decorated with an AP Theater Service Ribbon and two Bronze Service Stars.
He is survived by two daughters, two sons and three grandchildren.