After studying dancing at Juilliard under legendary choreographer Martha Graham, Paula Kelly danced professionally for Graham and others before landing significant roles on Broadway as a performer and choreographer in her own right. New York wasn't the only stage for her talents, though. She appeared on London's West End in "Sweet Charity," the 1967 musical version of Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria," winning an award for her triumphant performance as the sultry Helene. When the show's director/choreographer, Bob Fosse, mounted a costly movie version of the show, Kelly reprised her role to much acclaim, although the film itself was a bomb. More film work followed, but surprisingly her roles were far from glitzy dance/musical productions. Like many African-American actors working in the early 1970s, Kelly found substantial parts in the gritty, frequently politically charged so-called blaxploitation genre--she starred in the thriller "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," the ambitious fantasy-tinged "Top of the Heap," the crime story "Trouble Man," and the comedy "Uptown Saturday Night" with Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Harry Belafonte. Her big-screen work during this time wasn't relegated only to black-focused themes, however. She had prominent roles in the science fiction favorite "Soylent Green," starring Charlton Heston, and in the chilling "The Andromeda Strain." When film roles became scarce, there was plentiful television work for her, most notably a recurring guest spot on "Night Court" in 1984 and in the 1989 miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place," both earning her Emmy nominations.