Paul Kelly, Killer Actor
A Love Intrigue
Dorothy Mackaye had some explaining to do.
Her husband had turned up dead after a fistfight with a man who, in the estimation of anyone with common sense, appeared to be her lover. Goodness no, Mackaye insisted. Paul Kelly was merely a dear friend.
But hadn't they "partied around," as she put it? Hadn't they spent nights together at his Hollywood Hills home and exchanged gushing love letters?
"Well, you see," Mackaye explained, "Hollywood is different. We accept violations of convention because it is all right for us — that is, professional people are less conventional, more sophisticated."
She described her relationship with Kelly as "clean, beautiful and platonic."
But the American public, unsophisticated or not, wasn't buying it.
It smelled like a love triangle, and the sexy saga of Kelly, Mackaye and her husband, Ray Raymond, would become the Hollywood scandal of its day, the Roaring Twenties. It was a prototype Hollywood "love intrigue," lubricated with gin fizzes and featuring three prominent performers.
Dot Mackaye, a comedic actress in the style of Lucille Ball, was "the toast of the theatrical world," as one newspaper put it. Ray Raymond was a tireless song-and-dance man who traversed the country plying his trade — from Broadway to motion pictures to vaudeville houses.
And the man who came between them, Paul Kelly, was a child actor from Brooklyn who became one of the country's busiest supporting actors, on stage and screen.
The affair offered Americans — gaga with star gazing even then — a glimpse into the wanton Hollywood lifestyle.
Raymond apparently was not as hip as his wife and her bosom buddy. He warned Kelly to stop bird-dogging his wife, and when the warning failed, he invited him over for a punch in the nose.
It was quite an affair. But it wasn't much of a fight.