Kelly McGillis

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Kelly McGillis
BornKelly Ann McGillis
(1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 57)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
EducationJuilliard School (1979–1983)
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)Boyd Black (1979–1981)
Fred Tillman (1989–2002)
Melanie Leis (2010–2012)
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Kelly McGillis
BornKelly Ann McGillis
(1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 57)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
EducationJuilliard School (1979–1983)
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)Boyd Black (1979–1981)
Fred Tillman (1989–2002)
Melanie Leis (2010–2012)

Kelly Ann McGillis (born July 9, 1957)[1] is an American actress. She found fame for her roles in several films throughout the 1980s including her roles as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985) for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, Charlie in Top Gun (1986) and Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988). After her appearance in Cat Chaser (1989), she was discouraged from acting and took a break for a few years.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

McGillis was born in Newport Beach, California, the daughter of Virginia Joan (née Snell), a homemaker, and Donald Manson McGillis, a general practitioner of medicine.[2][3]

She attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California.[4] In 1979, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Juilliard School,[5] where she graduated in 1983.[4][4][6] While at Juilliard she performed in William Congreve's Love for Love, directed by John Blatchley.[citation needed]


Her breakout role was that of an Amish mother in the 1985 film Witness with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations. Her next high-profile role was that of flight instructor Charlie in the 1986 fighter-pilot film Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. After 1988's The Accused, she appeared in Cat Chaser with Peter Weller, a film she despised and which discouraged her from pursuing an acting career.[7][8] McGillis appeared in dozens of television and film roles throughout the 1990s before taking a break from acting for a few years.

In 2004, she appeared in the stage play The Graduate as Mrs. Robinson, touring the United States. She began working in television again in 2006, then in 2007, she joined the cast of Showtime's The L Word for its fifth season. McGillis starred in a Pasadena Playhouse stage production of Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman in May 2009, co-starring with Julia Duffy.

She had a role in the 2010 vampire film Stake Land,[9] directed by Jim Mickle.[10] She stars alongside Nick Damici, Connor Paolo and Danielle Harris.[11] McGillis was featured in a breast cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, released in 2010.[12] She also appeared in a production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, which toured the United Kingdom in 2010.[citation needed] She starred in Ti West's 2011 thriller The Innkeepers.[13]

Personal life[edit]

McGillis married Boyd Black in 1979. They divorced in 1981.

She and her girlfriend were assaulted, verbally abused, and raped in February 1982 at knifepoint by two men who broke into her New York apartment. One of the rapists was 15-year-old Leroy Johnson, who was on the run from juvenile detention.[14] This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her film role as the lawyer who supports Jodie Foster's character in The Accused.[15]

She married Fred Tillman in 1989, and they had two daughters: Kelsey and Sonora. The couple divorced in 2002. She also has two grandchildren.

She came out as a lesbian in April 2009 during an interview with, an LGBT-oriented web site.[16][17] McGillis said that coming to terms with her sexual orientation has been an ongoing process since age 12, and she was long convinced that God was punishing her for being homosexual.[16][17] In 2010, McGillis entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis, a Philadelphia-based sales executive; she and McGillis met in 2000 when Leis was a bartender at the restaurant she owned with her then-husband.[18] Leis and McGillis broke up in 2012.

McGillis worked full-time with drug addicts and alcoholics at Seabrook House Drug Alcohol Rehab Center, a rehabilitation center in Bridgeton, New Jersey when she and Leis shared a home in Collingswood.[19][20]

McGillis currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches acting at The New York Studio for Stage and Screen in Asheville.[21]



1983Reuben, ReubenGeneva Spofford
1986Top GunCharlotte Blackwood
1987Unsettled LandAnda
1987Made in HeavenAnnie Packert / Ally Chandler
1988House on Carroll Street, TheThe House on Carroll StreetEmily
1988Accused, TheThe AccusedKathryn Murphy
1989Rabbit Ears: ThumbelinaStorytellerVideo short
1989Winter PeopleCollie Wright
1989Cat ChaserMary DeBoya
1991Grand IsleEdna Pontellier
1992Babe, TheThe BabeClaire Hodgson Ruth
1994NorthAmish Mom
1998Painted AngelsNettie
1998Ground ControlSusan Stratton
1999At First SightJennie Adamson
1999Settlement, TheThe SettlementEllie / Fake Barbara
2000Monkey's Mask, TheThe Monkey's MaskProf. Diana Maitland
2001No One Can Hear YouTrish Burchall
2001Morgan's FerryVonnie Carpenter
2007SupergatorKim TaftVideo
2010Stake LandSister
2011What Could Have BeenMargaret
2011Innkeepers, TheThe InnkeepersLeanne Rease-Jones
2013We Are What We AreMarge
2013Tio PapiElizabeth Warden
2013Grand StreetIsabellePost-production


1984Sweet RevengeKatherine Dennison BreenTV film
1984One Life to LiveGlenda LivingstonTV series
1985Live from the Lincoln CenterHostEpisode: "Juilliard at 80"
1985Private SessionsJennifer ColesTV film
1986Santabear's First ChristmasNarrator (voice)TV film
1987Santabear's High Flying AdventureMissy Bear (voice)TV short
1992Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal FramingMrs. Winston HopeTV film
1993Bonds of LoveRose ParksTV film
1994In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride & MadnessSusie LynchTV film
1995Dark EyesMila McGannEpisode: "Pilot"
1995Remember MeMenly NicholsTV film
1996We the JuryAlyce BellTV film
1997Third Twin, TheThe Third TwinDr. Jean "Jeannie" FerramiTV film
1998Storm Chasers: Revenge of the TwisterJamie MarshallTV film
1998Perfect PreyAudrey MacleahTV film
2000Wild Thornberrys, TheThe Wild ThornberrysWinema (voice)Episode: "Pack of Thornberrys"
2000Outer Limits, TheThe Outer LimitsNicole WhitleyEpisode: "Final Appeal"
2000Buzz Lightyear of Star CommandGorgeous Woman (voice)Episode: "Planet of the Lost"
2006Cold ShoulderTV film
2006Black WidowerNancy WestveldTV film
2008L Word, TheThe L WordCol. Gillian DavisEpisodes: "Lesbians Gone Wild", "Lay Down the Law"
2014Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, OhioBertha TroylerTV film
2014Z NationHelenEpisode: "Sisters of Mercy"


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. ^ "Kelly McGillis Biography (1957-)". 
  3. ^ "Miss Snell Picks Date". Los Angeles Times. December 10, 1955. 
  4. ^ a b c Stark, John (February 18, 1985). "Kelly McGillis Plays the Amish Love of Harrison Ford in Witness—and Kisses Waitressing Goodbye". People. 
  5. ^ McGillis, Kelly (November 14, 1988). "Memoir of a Brief Time in Hell". People. 
  6. ^ Cruz, Alicia (May 23, 2011). "'Top Gun' actress Kelly McGillis working for N.J. rehab, enjoying life". 
  7. ^ Hasted, Nick (March 29, 2001). "Kelly McGillis: The star who threw herself to earth". The Independent. 
  8. ^ Davis, Steven Paul (2001). The A-Z of Cult Films and Film-makers. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8704-6. 
  9. ^ Kelly McGillis a Top Gun in Stake Land
  10. ^ Massive Set Visit Report: A Trip to 'Stake Land'
  11. ^ Badass Stake Land Teaser
  12. ^ "Mcg - Indian Star Rallies Celebrity Support For Cancer Movie", Oct 2009
  13. ^ First Images from Ti West's The Innkeepers
  14. ^ "Revealed: How rape made Top Gun star Kelly McGillis walk away from Hollywood". Mail Online. 2 October 2010. 
  15. ^ Scott, Paul. "Revealed: How rape made Top Gun star Kelly McGillis walk away from Hollywood". 
  16. ^ a b Jarchow, Boo (April 30, 2009). "Kelly McGillis Says She's Gay on SheWired's 'Girl Rock'". 
  17. ^ a b Broverman, Neal (April 30, 2009). "Top Gun Star Comes Out: Not Tom". The Advocate. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. 
  18. ^ Schwartz, Paula (September 15, 2010). "Kelly McGillis, Melanie Leis". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ Nutt, Amy Ellis (April 18, 2011). "Kelly McGillis traded Hollywood for Collingswood - and a contented existence". The Star-Ledger. pp. 23, 25. Retrieved April 19, 2011. 
  20. ^ Seabrook House web site
  21. ^

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