Born Orry George Kelly
(1898-12-31)December 31, 1898
Kiama, New South Wales, Australia
Died February 27, 1964(1964-02-27) (aged 65)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Costume designer
Known for Costume design
Awards Academy Award for Costume Design
Dolores del Río wears an Orry-Kelly gown in I Live for Love (1935)

Orry-Kelly was the professional name of Orry George Kelly (31 December 1897 – 27 February 1964), a prominent Hollywood costume designer. Until being overtaken by Catherine Martin in 2014, he was Australia's most prolific Oscar winner, having won three Academy Awards for Best Costume Design.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Move to the US 2
  • Hollywood work 3
  • Death 4
  • Costume design credits 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Orry-Kelly was born in Kiama, New South Wales, Australia, and was known as Jack Kelly. His father William Kelly was born on the Isle of Man and was a gentleman tailor in Kiama. Orry was a name of an ancient King of the Isle of Man. Orry-Kelly was sent to Sydney at age 17 to study banking and there developed his love of theatre.[2]

Move to the US

Orry-Kelly journeyed to New York to pursue an acting career and shared an apartment there with Charles Phelps AKA United States Army Air Corps during World War II[3] until being discharged for alcohol problems.[4]

Hollywood work

After moving to Hollywood in 1932, Orry-Kelly was hired by Warner Bros. as their chief costume designer and he remained there until 1944. Later, his designs were also seen in films at Universal, RKO, 20th Century Fox, and MGM studios. He won three Academy Awards for Best Costume Design (for An American in Paris, Cole Porter's Les Girls, and Some Like It Hot) and was nominated for a fourth (for Gypsy).

Orry-Kelly worked on many films now considered classics, including 42nd Street, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, Oklahoma!, Auntie Mame, and Some Like It Hot. He designed for all the great actresses of the day, including Bette Davis, Kay Francis, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Dolores del Río, Ava Gardner, Ann Sheridan, Barbara Stanwyck, and Merle Oberon. He had the job of creating clothes for the cross-dressing characters played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot. He wrote that when he finished draping Dolores del Río in white jersey, "she became a Greek goddess ... she was incredibly beautiful".[2] The elegant clothes he designed for Bergman's character in Casablanca have been described as "pitch perfect".[2]

In addition to designing, Kelly wrote a column, "Hollywood Fashion Parade", for the International News Service, owned by William Randolph Hearst, during the years of World War II. Kelly's memoirs, entitled Women I've Undressed were discovered in the care of a relative, as a result of publicity surrounding Gillian Armstrong's 2015 documentary on Kelly, Women He's Undressed.[5][6] The memoir was published for the first time in 2015.[7]


A longtime alcoholic, Orry-Kelly died of Jack L. Warner. He had no living relatives when he died so his personal effects and Academy Awards were stored by Ann Warner, wife of his friend, Jack.[1] The Oscars were among the items scheduled for exhibition entitled Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood, in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in August 2015.[1]

Costume design credits


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ "Fashion Expert Stationed with Air Forces Here", St. Petersburg Times, 20 December 1942
  4. ^
  5. ^ (2015)Women He's Undressed at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ "Gillian Armstrong on her Orry-Kelly film: friendship, fame and homophobia" by Alexandra Spring, The Guardian, 13 June 2015
  7. ^ Orry-Kelly. Women I've Undressed. 2015. Random House Australia. ISBN 978-0-85798-563-7

External links