Monday, July 09, 2018

Happy Birthday to Film and Stage Actress Kelly McGillis

Kelly McGillis was born today, July 9, in 1957. She is an actress widely known for her film role as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations; her role as Charlie (below) in Top Gun (1986) with Tom Cruise, and her role as attorney Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988).

McGillis was born in Newport Beach, California. She was raised in Los Angeles, and attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California. After graduating from high school in 1975, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Juilliard School, where she graduated in 1983. She made her film debut in Reuben, Reuben in 1983.

McGillis' early television roles included a part on the daytime soap One Life to Live in 1984.

During the late 1980's and through the mid 2000's, McGillis was a featured actress at the prestigious Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC.

More recently, McGillis starred in Hallmark's An Uncommon Grace last year in which she played a grandmother living on a farm in Amish country. (It's actually her third Amish role, after her breakout performance in the 1985 film Witness and her appearance in the 2014 TV movie Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio.) Other recent roles included the horror films The Innkeepers and We Are What We Are, the thriller Mother of All Secrets, and episodes of the TV shows The L Word and Z Nation.

McGillis married fellow Juilliard student Boyd Black in 1979, but the couple divorced in 1981.She married Fred Tillman in 1989, and they have two daughters. The couple divorced in 2002.

McGillis came out as a lesbian in April 2009 during an interview with SheWired. In 2010, McGillis entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis (at right with McGillis), a Philadelphia sales executive; she and McGillis met in 2000 when Leis was a bartender at Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery in Key West, Florida, which McGillis owned with her then-husband Fred Tillman. They sold the restaurant in June 2017. Leis and McGillis broke up in 2013.

McGillis has had her struggles in the past:
She says she was gang-raped when she was 12, mugged at gunpoint during the early 1980s, and then sexually assaulted by home invaders a year later. Those traumas led Kelly into drug and alcohol abuse, but she became sober by 2001. 

McGillis currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches acting at The New York Studio for Stage and Screen NYS3 in Asheville, North Carolina. She was left scratched and bruised after being reportedly assaulted by a woman who broke into her North Carolina home on June 17, 2016.

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