Jean Louisa Kelly
Family & Companions
A spunky performer with a mass of curly reddish hair and a sweet, innocent air, Jean Louisa Kelly first came to the attention of filmgoers as John Candy's bratty niece, appalled by his antics, in the John Hughes comedy "Uncle Buck" (1989). She further solidified her standing as a rising starlet as the dewy-eyed student who develops a crush on her music teacher (Richard Dreyfuss) in "Mr. Holland's Opus" (1995). A stage veteran, Kelly has also amassed an impressive resume with a wide array of small screen work. While it would seem the musical theater appeals most to her (she has variously been announced to co-star in aborted shows like "The Jazz Singer" and "Little Women"), the actress settled into the routine of series work in the fall of 1999 in NBC's romantic comedy-drama "Cold Feet."
The Massachusetts native began studying voice and dance at an early age and made her professional debut in the title role of the famous orphan singing about "Tomorrow" in a summer stock production of "Annie" in 1983. Kelly went on to appear around New England in various theatrical productions and competed in "Talent America" in 1985, placing second with a medley from "Funny Girl" and landing an agent. Fulfilling a dream, she made her Broadway debut in the tiny role of Snow White in the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical "Into the Woods" (1987-88) and understudied the larger roles of Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood.
After making an auspicious screen debut alongside scene-stealer Macauley Culkin in "Uncle Buck," Kelly took several years off to attend Columbia University. Resuming her career, she landed a small role in the CBS "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "Breathing Lesson" (1994) and appeared in commercials for Ogilvie shampoo and MCI. While one might have thought her noticeable turn in "Mr. Holland's Opus" might have led to big screen stardom, Kelly instead found regular employment on the small screen, often in period dramas like "Tad" (The Family Channel, 1995) and "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" (TNT, 1998). In the contemporary, short-lived Americanized "Cold Feet" (NBC, 1999), she lent her charisma and screen presence to Shelley, a twentysomething struggle with romantic commitment. Kelly returned to sitcoms playing an overly concerned stay-at-home mom in the "Yes, Dear" (CBS, 2000-06).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Played title role in summer stock production of "Annie" at the Theater-by-the-Sea in Matunick, Rhode Island
Placed second in nationwide talent contest (Talent America), signed by an agent
Broadway debut in small role of Snow White in "Into the Woods"; also understudied roles of Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood
Film debut (billed as Jean Kelly) playing Tia Russell in "Uncle Buck", directed by John Hughes
TV acting debut in "Breathing Lessons", a CBS "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production
Breakthrough screen role as a student who develops a crush on her music teacher in "Mr. Holland's Opus"
Appeared as a young governess hired to tutor the sons of President Abraham Lincoln in the period drama "Tad" (The Family Channel)
Had leading role in the stage musical "R.S.V.P. Broadway", produced in Canada
Cast as the lover of John Wilkes Booth in the TNT production "The Day Lincoln Was Shot"
Signed to portray Ruby Keeler in the stage musical biography "The Jazz Singer", starring Sam Harris; show canceled due to lack of funds
Debut as TV series regular on NBC's short-lived "Cold Feet"
Played leading role of an aspiring singer in the sci-fi thriller "The Cyberstalking" (UPN)
Co-starred in the CBS fall sitcom "Yes, Dear"
Portrayed silent star Clara Bow in the Off-Broadway musical "The 'It' Girl"