Kelly Bishop


Date Of Birth

February 28, 1944


Kelly Bishop is best known for playing the roles of the mother of Jennifer Gray's character in "Dirty Dancing" and as Emily Gilmore on "Gilmore Girls". Bishop also won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for playing Sheila in "A Chorus Line".

Bishop was a former ballet dancer who performed in Broadway productions. She first studied at the American Ballet Theatre School, then later at the San Jose Ballet School. When she was 18, she landed her first job dancing in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall. She continued her performances in Las Vegas, summer stock and even on television, until she got cast in her first Broadway role in "Golden Rainbow" in 1967. Her big break soon came, earning a 1976 Tony Award for her portrayal in the Broadway production, "A Chorus Line". Her other Broadway credits include roles in Neil Simon’s "Proposals", "Six Degrees of Separation", and in the Tony Award-winning "The Last Days of Ballyhoo" and "Bus Stop". She was also seen in the production "Precious Sons" and "Becky Shaw" in addition to many appearances off-Broadway and in regional theaters.

In 1978, Kelly Bishop was cast in Paul Mazursky’s big-screen drama, "An Unmarried Woman". Her next big role came as an accident, when she was chosen to replace actress Lynn Lipton as Baby’s mother in 1986’s "Dirty Dancing". Her other films include the Betty Thomas-directed comedy "Private Parts", and 2000’s "Wonder Boys". She was also seen in "Queens Logic", "Cafe Society", "Miami Rhapsody" and "Blue Moon".

On television, Kelly Bishop has been seen in the CW Television Network series "Gilmore Girls" as Emily Gilmore. Her other small screen appearances have been those in Mike Nichols’ "The Thorns", "My Wildest Dreams", and was a guest star in "Murphy Brown", "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", "Army Wives", "Mercy", and "The Good Wife"

In 2012, Bishop will be playing a recurring role on Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheadsas Fanny Flowers.

The veteran actress also has other hobbies. She is known to have practiced Pilates and aerobics, while also being fond of hiking and gardening. She has been married to TV talk show host, Lee Leonard.

Place of Birth

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Birth Name

Carole Bishop



Fun Facts

Lee Leonard (1981 - present)
Peter Miller (? - ?) (divorced)

Her husband, Lee Leonard, is host of 'Jersey Talkin' on Channel 12, New Jersey. He was also the host of "Midday Live" a long-running local talk show on New York's WNYW-TV. Leonard was also an anchor at ESPN.

Won Broadway's 1976 Tony as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for her performance as Sheila in the original production of "A Chorus Line."

Was the first of the original cast members to leave "A Chorus Line".

Practices Pilates and aerobics and enjoys gardening and hiking.

Made her Broadway debut in the musical "Golden Rainbow" in 1967, but scored big as the sexy, streetwise Sheila in the Broadway production of "A Chorus Line" with her contribution in the song "At the Ballet". The performance earned her Tony and Drama Desk awards in 1976.

At age 18 she made it to New York and landed her first job dancing in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall.

Trained in ballet, she attended the American Ballet Theatre and the San Jose Ballet schools.


2012: Bunheads (TV series) - Fanny Flowers
2010: The Good Wife (TV series) - Mrs. Kent (voice)
2010: Mercy (TV series) - Lauren Kempton
2009: Army Wives (TV series) - Jean Calhoun
2000-2008: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" - Defense Attorney (2 episodes)
2000-2007: "Gilmore Girls" - Emily Gilmore (154 episodes)
2000: Wonder Boys - Amanda Leer
1999: My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception - Sylvia Wienstein
1997: Private Parts - Ray Stern
1995: Miami Rhapsody - Zelda
1995: Cafe Society - Mrs. Jelke
1993: Six Degrees of Separation - Adele
1992: "Murphy Brown" - Connie Silverberg (1 episode)
1992: "Law & Order" - Marian Borland (1 episode)
1992: "ABC Afterschool Specials" - Roxanne Holden (1 episode)
1991: Queens Logic - Maria
1990: "The Baby-Sitters Club" - Flora (1 episode)
1988: Ich und Er - Eleanor Aramis
1987: Dirty Dancing - Marjorie Houseman
1986: Solarbabies - Tutor Nover
1985: The Recovery Room - Kaye Brenner
1984: "Kate & Allie" - Paulette (1 episode)
1983: "The New Odd Couple" - Charity (1 episode)
1982: O'Hara's Wife - Beth Douglas
1981: Advice to the Lovelorn - Rita Borden
1978: An Unmarried Woman - Elaine
1976: "Hawaii Five-O" - Charlene Jenkins (1 episode)
1966: Step Out of Your Mind - Missy Linden




5' 6" (1.68 m)


"My relationship with Lauren is nothing like the roles we play on the show. I am just crazy about my girls. Practically from the moment [Lauren and I] met, we had an instant connect. We never even had to discuss what we wanted to do with our roles. It's as if we have this emotional shorthand."

"My friends and neighbors get such a kick out of watching me on television and in movies. They see me do and say things that I would never even think of doing in my real life. They just think it is hysterical, especially when I play mean."

"I have played a couple of nice moms in my career [think Jennifer Grey's mom in the classic film Dirty Dancing] but, in my opinion, playing nice is a complete bore! The nastier they are the more fun they are [as in Howard Stern's mom in Private Parts, perhaps?]."

"I would never be Emily's friend in real life. She's so opinionated and status quo - definitely not my kind of woman."

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