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Kelly Bishop

Kelly Bishop
Bishop at the ATX TV Festival 2015 for the TV show Bunheads
Born Carole Bishop
(1944-02-28) February 28, 1944
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Occupation Actress
Years active 1962–2013
Spouse(s) Peter Miller (divorced)
Lee Leonard (1981-present)

Carole "Kelly" Bishop (born February 28, 1944) is an American actress and dancer, best known for her roles as matriarch Emily Gilmore on the series Gilmore Girls, and as the mother of Jennifer Grey's character in the film Dirty Dancing. Bishop created the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line, for which she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. She also starred as Fanny Flowers in the ABC Family short-lived comedy-drama series Bunheads.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
    • Theater 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Bishop was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado to Jane Lenore (née Wahtola) and Lawrence Boden Bishop.[1] She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she trained to be a ballet dancer, attending the American Ballet Theatre School and the San Jose Ballet School.[2] At eighteen, she headed to New York City and landed her first job dancing in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall. Bishop continued to dance in Las Vegas, summer stock and on television until she was cast in 1967 in Golden Rainbow, her first Broadway role.


Bishop's big break came when she was cast as the sexy, hard-edged Sheila in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Her performance earned her the 1976 Tony Award as "Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical)" as well as the 1976 Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Musical". She also acted in the Broadway productions of Six Degrees of Separation, Neil Simon's Proposals, the Tony Award-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Bus Stop. It wasn't long before she was cast opposite Jill Clayburgh in Paul Mazursky's big-screen drama An Unmarried Woman (1978). In 1986, Bishop was initially cast in a much smaller part in the film Dirty Dancing but was called upon to play Mrs. Houseman when Lynne Lipton, the actress assigned the role, fell ill during the first week of shooting.

Bishop went on to play a "mom" to high-profile stars in features: Howard Stern's in the Betty Thomas-directed comedy Private Parts (1997), and Tobey Maguire's in Wonder Boys (2000). Additional feature credits include Ich und Er (USA: Me and Him, 1988), Queens Logic (1991), Café Society (1995), Miami Rhapsody (1995) and Blue Moon (2002). On television, Bishop starred in the Mike Nichols' The Thorns opposite Tony Roberts and Marilyn Cooper. She played Lisa Ann Walter's mother on My Wildest Dreams. She has guest-starred on Kate & Allie, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Murphy Brown.

From 2000 to 2007, Bishop starred in the CW Television Network series Gilmore Girls as wealthy New England matriarch Emily Gilmore, mother of Lorelai and grandmother of Rory.

Bishop was in Becky Shaw at the Second Stage Theatre in 2008. She then performed briefly in the 2011 revival of Anything Goes alongside Sutton Foster and Joel Grey. She replaced Jessica Walter in the role of Evangeline Harcourt.

Bishop co-starred as Fanny Flowers on the ABC Family program Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheads,[3] in which she reunited with Sutton Foster. The show was canceled after one season.

Personal life

Bishop resides in South Orange, New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, TV talk show host Lee Leonard.[4][5]



Year Title Role Notes
1966 Step Out of Your Mind Missy Linden
1978 Unmarried Woman, AnAn Unmarried Woman Elaine
1982 O'Hara's Wife Beth Douglas
1986 Solarbabies Tutor Nover
1987 Dirty Dancing Marjorie Houseman
1988 Me and Him Eleanor Aramis
1991 Queens Logic Maria
1993 Six Degrees of Separation Adele
1995 Miami Rhapsody Zelda
1995 Cafe Society Mrs. Jelke
1997 Private Parts Ray Stern
1999 My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception Sylvia Wienstein
2000 Blue Moon Peggy's Mother
2000 Wonder Boys Amanda Leer
2011 Friends with Kids Marcy Fryman
2011 Novel Romance, AA Novel Romance Lily Sparks


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Hawaii Five-0 Char Episode: "Oldest Profession - Latest Price"
1981 Advice to the Lovelorn Rita Borden TV film
1983 New Odd Couple, TheThe New Odd Couple Charity Episode: "Murray's Hot Date"
1984 Kate & Allie Paulette Episode: "Baby"
1985 Recovery Room, TheThe Recovery Room Kaye Brenner TV film
1987 As the World Turns Grace Wescott Andrews TV series
1988 Thorns, TheThe Thorns Ginger Thorn Main role (12 episodes)
1989 One Life to Live Serena Wyman 1 episode
1990 Baby-Sitters Club, TheThe Baby-Sitters Club Flora Episode: "Claudia and the Secret Passage"
1992 ABC Afterschool Special Roxanne Holden Episode: "Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 1"
1992 Law & Order Marian Borland Episode: "Intolerance"
1992 Murphy Brown Connie Silverberg Episode: "Me Thinks My Parents Doth Protest Too Much"
1995 All My Children Freida Landau TV series
1995 My Wildest Dreams Gloria James Recurring role (5 episodes)
1996 One Life to Live Dr. Robbins 1 episode
2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Registrar Episode: "Slaves"
2000–2007 Gilmore Girls Emily Gilmore Main role (154 episodes)
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Julia Zimmer Episode: "Persona"
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Julia Zimmer Episode: "Zebras"
2009 Army Wives Jean Calhoun Episode: "Operation: Tango"
2010 Mercy Lauren Kempton Episodes: "Wake Up, Bill", "Can We Talk About the Gigantic Elephant in the Ambulance?",
"I Have a Date", "I'm Fine"
2010 Good Wife, TheThe Good Wife Mrs. Kent Episode: "VIP Treatment"
2012–2013 Bunheads Fanny Flowers Main role (15 episodes)
2015 Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll Elizabeth Guest role (season 1 episode 7)


Year Show Role Notes
1968 Golden Rainbow Cat-Girl/Dancer Shubert Theatre
1968 Promises, Promises Clancy's Lounge Patron/Company Nurse Shubert Theatre
1968 Precious Sons Bea (Standby)
1971 On the Town Dance Ensemble Imperial Theatre
1975 A Chorus Line Sheila Shubert Theatre
Originated role
Win - Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Win - Outstanding Actress in a Musical
1990 Six Degrees of Separation Kitty/Ouisa Vivian Beaumont Theater


1996 Bus Stop Grace Hoylard Short revival, 29 performances
1997 The Last Night of Ballyhoo Boo Levy Helen Hayes Theatre
1997 Proposals Annie Robbins Broadhurst Theatre
2011 Anything Goes Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt Stephen Sondheim Theatre

August 9 2011 - January 15 2012


  1. ^ "Profile at". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Kelly Bishop Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  3. ^ Gilmore Girls' reunion: Kelly Bishop joins Amy Sherman-Palladino's new ABC Family show -- EXCLUSIVE"'". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  4. ^ "THEATER; Two Mature Lives on Stage and Screen, Now Playing in New Jersey", The New York Times, September 19, 1999. "She and her husband, Lee Leonard, the host of Jersey Talking on News 12 in Edison, have been living in South Orange for four years."
  5. ^ Worth-Baker, Marcia. "Mother's Always Right: played the mother many times over", Maplewood Matters, accessed April 22, 2007. "Ask Kelly Bishop, South Orange resident and star of Gilmore Girls, what drew her to the role of Emily Gilmore, and she recalls, 'The pilot was simply the best script I ever read.'"

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