Classic Hollywood Scandals-Paul Kelly & Dorothy Mackaye

Updated on February 19, 2020

Ray Raymond

Stage Actor/Dancer Ray Raymond

Ray Raymond had been in stage musicals all his life. His parents were vaudevillians who raised their son with their shows. Young Ray learned to sing, dance, and tell jokes, while, at the same time, learned to walk and talk. By the time he was a young man, he was already a Broadway veteran.

In 1920 it was love at first sight when Ray Raymond fell head over heels for Dorothy Mackaye, an extra girl who had a bit part in the chorus line of Raymond's most recent show. The only problem was that Ray Raymond was already married. The crazy love he felt for Dorothy led him to forget all about his marriage and elope with Dorothy. After much drama, a bigamy charge, and the tremendous turmoil of committing a major sin, things finally started to smooth out, and the couple had a baby girl, Valerie Raymond.

Paul Kelly With Dorothy MacKaye After Their Marriage

Paul Kelly with Dorothy Mackaye
Paul Kelly with Dorothy Mackaye

Paul Kelly- Movie Actor

Paul Kelly had been a child actor in silent movies and was now on his way to stardom as an actor. He befriended Dorothy and Ray while all three were appearing together in a show.

Rumors were now circulating that Paul Kelly and Dorothy Mackaye had become very friendly. Ray Raymond caught wind of it, and on April 15, 1927 the two men had an argument over the phone. Ray lived in a house with his wife, and Paul lived in an apartment three blocks away, and when Raymond dared Kelly to come over and settle the issue like a man, Kelly was there in an instant, and pretty well lubricated. The two men tangled in a gruesome brawl. Ray Raymond approximately 5"8' and 165, was no match for Paul Kelly at 6" and almost 200 pounds. Raymond was lying on the floor when his wife arrived from her shopping spree. Dorothy helped her husband to his bed where he was found unconscious the next morning. Just two days later Ray Raymond was pronounced dead from a brain hemorrhage.

The Sensational Kelly Trial of the 1920s

The press had a field day with strange love letters that were read aloud by the prosecution. One of these letters contained Paul's writing I love you in pig Latin, causing a wave of pig Latin jokes for years to come.

Dorothy taking the stand was one of the trials sensational moments. She was not what one expects to see in a love triangle such as this. She was rather plain in appearance and spoke with a lisp. She declared that she did not love Paul, and he was just a good friend. When the district attorney cross examined Dorothy, she was aloof and gave an attitude of superiority, stating that Hollywood people are different and that "normal conventions are not necessary for us because we are more sophisticated." The DA immediately nailed her with her own words, and the over all coldness of her attitude did not endear her to the hearts of jurors. When Paul's houseboy was called to the stand he openly stated that he had served breakfast in bed to Dottie and Paul after one of their pajama parties. He added that their breakfast tray included a side of aspirin and Alka-Seltzer for their hangovers. This testimony hurt Paul and Dorothy who were trying to deny any intimacy, but Paul's house boy's testimony brought down the house with laughter and the press.

When Kelly was arrested he admitted in a statement to the police that he loved Dorothy, but adamantly denied any intimacy, reporting that Dorothy never returned his affection. He was charged with manslaughter. Dorothy had always said that she and Paul were nothing more than friends, was charged with compounding a felony by attempting to conceal facts, as to how her husband died.

Reunite- Paul Kelly and Dorothy Mackaye

Kelly was sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin, and Dorothy was sentenced to 1-3 years in San Quentin for women.

Just before sentencing, Dorothy visited Paul and told him that he was still young and still had a fighting chance in the movies. She told him not to give up and that she would be waiting for him.

While in prison, Kelly practiced his acting technique, and vowed that he would make a comeback as soon as his sentence was over.

After serving just 25 months as a model prisoner Kelly was released. Dorothy was released in one year. Paul and Dorothy were married in 1931. They had been through a lot together and had not turned on each other in any way. In fact Dorothy's daughter, Valerie Raymond was now named Mimi Kelly, and raised as their daughter.

In 1932 Dorothy produced a play called Women in Prison that attracted so much attention that Warner Brothers bought the rights and made a movie called Ladies They Talk About in 1933, with Barbara Stanwyck, and was remade in 1942 as Lady Gangster.

Kelly lived up to his vow of becoming a success after his release from San Quentin. Paul signed with Universal to do a string of gangster films, and he was a major success. He made numerous movies from the 1930s to 1956, the year of his death from a heart attack after returning from casting his Vote for Democrat Stevenson. (Eisenhower won the election.)

Dorothy died in 1940 at the age of 37 in car accident.


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    • profile image

      Ken Fraser 

      23 months ago

      His death was punishment not for killing Raymond but for bribing the registrar to allow that convicted felon to vote.

    • profile image

      R. Denzil Lee, AIA 

      3 years ago

      In the 50's when I began my architectural career I began working at Welton Becket & Associates on mid-Wilshire, next door to Van De Kamp's. At the time I bought my clothes at a men's store, across the street ( I think it was a Phalps Turkel) and Paul worked there a few days a week. He always showed an interest in me and when I left Becket's, to open my own firm, he introduced me to a elderly studio hair dresser, Joann St. Oager. She became my first architectural client. Her connection opened up numerous other intros to other stars that soon became my clients. Thank you Paul.

    • Skarlet profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from California

      Thank you teaches- I enjoy writing on this subject. He did have that Newman look when he was young. :)

      Thank you Paula.

      I suspect that Ray was holding three sheets to the wind when he invited Paul over.

      From looking at the case, as much as I can find, Dorothy was hiding the fact that she was involved with Paul, and I guess that got her in trouble too, but as you said, she would have walked away these days.

      You have probably seen Paul Kelly in some of his later films as a gray haired guy. The high and the Mighty, Gunsmoke, Zeigfield Girl. He became one of those faces you just know.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      Skarlet.....Interesting, intriguing.....very Hollywood? Hmmmm, I thought they were all so very proper and above-board in Hollywood back in those days. Apparently not. I can't say that I'd heard of any of them, but I enjoyed this true crime story.

      In this day and time, she'd have never been charged and convicted as she was. They had absolutely no way of proving she had concealed anything.

      Wonder what poor Ray was thinking when he challenged BIG Paul to come over and kick his butt??!! Up ++

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I am enjoying your history lessons on this series. He reminds me a little of Paul Newman.. a little. Keep them coming!


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