Mr. Holland's Opus
American actress Jean Louisa Kelly first came to the attention of moviegoers as John Candy's impolite niece in the John Hughes comedy “Uncle Buck” (1989). She cemented her status as a growing star six years later with her role as a student who has a crush on her music trainer in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), opposite Richard Dreyfuss. A stage trained performer who also collected a noteworthy resume with extensive small screen work, Kelly received a Young Artist nomination for playing Kim Warner in the CBS fall sitcom “Yes, Dear” (2000-2006). She has also acted in such TV movies as “Breathing Lesson” (1994), “Ted” (1995), “Harvest of Fire” (1996), “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” (1998) and “The Cyberstalking” (1999) and appeared in TV series like “Mad About You,” “Cold Feet,” “Ally McBeal” and more recently, “Grey's Anatomy.”
In addition to acting, Kelly is also a singer and dancer. As for her private life, Kelly has been married to entertainment attorney James Pitaro since 1997. The pair has two young children, Sean and Josey.
Childhood and Family:
Worcester, Massachusetts, native Jean Louisa Kelly was born on March 9, 1972. She was raised in Boylston, Massachusetts, before moving with her family to Maryland. Her father taught English in a high school and her mother was a piano teacher. Jean graduated from Easton High School in Easton, Maryland, and in 1994 she received a Bachelors degree in English from Columbia University's Columbia College in New York, New York.
Jean tied the knot with entertainment lawyer James Pitaro in 1997. She gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy named Sean, in 2003 and the second child, daughter Josey, was born in 2006. Jean loves swimming, wearing Gucci, and collects stamps. The self-described very emotional person also likes to watch football, go to spas, make puzzles, and martial arts.
Jean Louisa Kelly began taking voice and dance lessons at an early age and by age 11, had made her professional debut in the title role of the celebrated orphan singing about “Tomorrow” in a summer stock production of “Annie” at the Theater-by-the-Sea in Rhode Island. She continued to appear around New England in different theatrical productions and participated in a nationwide talent contest called “Talent America” in 1985. She placed second after singing a medley from “Funny Girl” and subsequently won an agent. A Broadway debut followed in 1988 with the small role of Snow White in the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical “Into the Woods,” opposite Bernadette Peters. She also alternated with the roles of Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood.
Kelly received her first film exposure in 1989 when she was cast alongside John Candy and Macauley Culkin in the comedy “Uncle Buck,” which was written and directed by John Hughes. She then took several years off to attend college and did not resume her career until after graduation when she was featured with James Garner in the CBS “Hallmark Hall of Fame” presentation of Breathing Lesson.” She then appeared as Mary Graves in the TV film “One More Mountain” (both 1994) and costarred as Julia Thaf, a young governess hired to tutor the sons of President Abraham Lincoln, in the biopic “Ted” (1995). She next supported Lolita Davidovitch and J.A Preston in the Emmy Award winning “Harvest of Fire” (1996) and appeared in commercials for Ogilvie shampoo and MCI long distance (1994). Kelly, however, did not receive a breakthrough screen role until director Stephen Herek cast her in the role of Rowena Morgan, the dewy-eyed student who falls in love with her music teacher (played by Richard Dreyfuss), in the drama “Mr. Holland's Opus” (1995). The movie was nominated for an Oscar and won many other awards. The same year, she also costarred with Joel Grey and Barnard Hughes in the musical “The Fantasticks,” but it was not released until 2000.
In 1998, Kelly acted in the independent films “Origin of the Species” and “A Stranger in the Kingdom” and in a series of television films, including ABC's “The Ruby Bridges Story” and TNT's “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” (as John Wilkes Booth's love interest). She then appeared in UPN's “The Cyberstalking“ (1999, starred as an aspiring singer), in an episode of “Law & Order” (1998) and had a recurring role as Nurse Diane in “Mad About You” (1998-1999) before venturing to TV as a regular character on the short lived series “Cold Feet” (NBC; 1999). She also resurfaced on stage in a lead role of the musical “R.S.V.P. Broadway” (1997), which was produced in Canada.
After the cancellation of “Cold Feet,” Kelly returned to sitcoms in 2000 with her role of Kim Warner in CBS' “Yes, Dear.” As an excessively concerned stay-at-home mother, she was nominated for a Young Artist award for Most Popular Mom & Pop in a Television Series in 2004, which she shared with Anthony Clark. She remained with the show until it came to an end in 2006.
Kelly also played Marguerite Harris in the independent film “Landfall” (2001), starred with Ben Weber in the comedy short “Little Red Light” (2003), and appeared in a 2001 episode of “Ally McBeal.” On stage, she was cast as silent star Clara Bow in the off-Broadway musical “The It Girl” (2001) and Eve Harrington in the musical “Applause” (2005), which was based on the film “All About Eve.”
On April 30, 2006, Kelly guest starred in the ABC medical drama “Grey's Anatomy.”