Kelly Bishop

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Kelly Bishop
BornCarole Bishop
(1944-02-28) February 28, 1944 (age 70)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Years active1962–present
Spouse(s)Lee Leonard (1981-present)
Peter Miller (divorced)
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Kelly Bishop
BornCarole Bishop
(1944-02-28) February 28, 1944 (age 70)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Years active1962–present
Spouse(s)Lee Leonard (1981-present)
Peter Miller (divorced)

Carole "Kelly" Bishop (born February 28, 1944) is an American actress and dancer, best known for her roles as matriarch Emily Gilmore on the series Gilmore Girls, and as the mother of Jennifer Grey's character in the film Dirty Dancing. Bishop created the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line, for which she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. She also starred as Fanny Flowers in the ABC Family short-lived comedy-drama series Bunheads.

Early life[edit]

Bishop was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado to Jane Lenore (née Wahtola) and Lawrence Boden Bishop.[1] She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she trained to be a ballet dancer, attending the American Ballet Theatre School and the San Jose Ballet School.[2] At eighteen, she headed to New York City and landed her first job dancing in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall. Bishop continued to dance in Las Vegas, summer stock and on television until she was cast in 1967 in Golden Rainbow, her first Broadway role.


Bishop's big break came when she was cast as the sexy, hard-edged Sheila in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Her performance earned her the 1976 Tony Award as "Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical)" as well as the 1976 Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Musical". She also acted in the Broadway productions of Six Degrees of Separation, Neil Simon's Proposals, the Tony Award-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Bus Stop. It wasn't long before she was cast opposite Jill Clayburgh in Paul Mazursky's big-screen drama An Unmarried Woman (1978). In 1986, Bishop was initially cast in a much smaller part in the film Dirty Dancing but was called upon to play Mrs. Houseman when Lynne Lipton, the actress assigned the role, fell ill during the first week of shooting.

Bishop went on to play a "mom" to high-profile stars in features: Howard Stern's in the Betty Thomas-directed comedy Private Parts (1997), and Tobey Maguire's in Wonder Boys (2000). Additional feature credits include Ich und Er (USA: Me and Him, 1988), Queens Logic (1991), Café Society (1995), Miami Rhapsody (1995) and Blue Moon (2002). On television, Bishop starred in the Mike Nichols' The Thorns opposite Tony Roberts and Marilyn Cooper. She played Lisa Ann Walter's mother on My Wildest Dreams. She has guest-starred on Kate & Allie, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Murphy Brown.

From 2000-07, Bishop starred in the CW Television Network series Gilmore Girls as wealthy New England matriarch Emily Gilmore, mother of Lorelai and grandmother of Rory.

Bishop was in Becky Shaw at the Second Stage Theatre in 2008. She then performed briefly in the 2011 revival of Anything Goes alongside Sutton Foster and Joel Grey. She replaced Jessica Walter in the role of Evangeline Harcourt.

Bishop co-starred as Fanny Flowers on the ABC Family program Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheads,[3] in which she reunited with Sutton Foster. The show was canceled after one season.

Personal life[edit]

Bishop resides in South Orange, New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, TV talk show host Lee Leonard. She has no children.[4][5]



1966Step Out of Your MindMissy Linden
1978Unmarried Woman, AnAn Unmarried WomanElaine
1982O'Hara's WifeBeth Douglas
1986SolarbabiesTutor Nover
1987Dirty DancingMarjorie Houseman
1988Me and HimEleanor Aramis
1991Queens LogicMaria
1993Six Degrees of SeparationAdele
1995Miami RhapsodyZelda
1995Cafe SocietyMrs. Jelke
1997Private PartsRay Stern
1999My X-Girlfriend's Wedding ReceptionSylvia Wienstein
2000Blue MoonPeggy's Mother
2000Wonder BoysAmanda Leer
2011Friends with KidsMarcy Fryman
2011Novel Romance, AA Novel RomanceLily Sparks


1976Hawaii Five-0CharEpisode: "Oldest Profession - Latest Price"
1981Advice to the LovelornRita BordenTV film
1983New Odd Couple, TheThe New Odd CoupleCharityEpisode: "Murray's Hot Date"
1984Kate & AlliePauletteEpisode: "Baby"
1985Recovery Room, TheThe Recovery RoomKaye BrennerTV film
1987As the World TurnsGrace Wescott AndrewsTV series
1988Thorns, TheThe ThornsGinger ThornMain role (12 episodes)
1989One Life to LiveSerena Wyman1 episode
1990Baby-Sitters Club, TheThe Baby-Sitters ClubFloraEpisode: "Claudia and the Secret Passage"
1992ABC Afterschool SpecialRoxanne HoldenEpisode: "Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 1"
1992Law & OrderMarian BorlandEpisode: "Intolerance"
1992Murphy BrownConnie SilverbergEpisode: "Me Thinks My Parents Doth Protest Too Much"
1995All My ChildrenFreida LandauTV series
1995My Wildest DreamsGloria JamesRecurring role (5 episodes)
1996One Life to LiveDr. Robbins1 episode
2000Law & Order: Special Victims UnitRegistrarEpisode: "Slaves"
2000-2007Gilmore GirlsEmily GilmoreMain role (154 episodes)
2008Law & Order: Special Victims UnitJulia ZimmerEpisode: "Persona"
2009Law & Order: Special Victims UnitJulia ZimmerEpisode: "Zebras"
2009Army WivesJean CalhounEpisode: "Operation: Tango"
2010MercyLauren KemptonEpisodes: "Wake Up, Bill", "Can We Talk About the Gigantic Elephant in the Ambulance?",
"I Have a Date", "I'm Fine"
2010Good Wife, TheThe Good WifeMrs. KentEpisode: "VIP Treatment"
2012-2013BunheadsFanny FlowersMain role (15 episodes)


  1. ^ "Profile at". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Kelly Bishop Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  3. ^ "'Gilmore Girls' reunion: Kelly Bishop joins Amy Sherman-Palladino's new ABC Family show -- EXCLUSIVE". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  4. ^ "THEATER; Two Mature Lives on Stage and Screen, Now Playing in New Jersey", The New York Times, September 19, 1999. "She and her husband, Lee Leonard, the host of Jersey Talking on News 12 in Edison, have been living in South Orange for four years."
  5. ^ Worth-Baker, Marcia. "Mother's Always Right: played the mother many times over", Maplewood Matters, accessed April 22, 2007. "Ask Kelly Bishop, South Orange resident and star of Gilmore Girls, what drew her to the role of Emily Gilmore, and she recalls, 'The pilot was simply the best script I ever read.'"

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