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John "Shipwreck" Kelly
Date of birth: (1910-07-08)July 8, 1910
Place of birth: Simstown, Kentucky
Date of death: August 17, 1986(1986-08-17) (aged 76)
Place of death: Lighthouse Point, Florida
Career information
Position(s): Halfback
College: University of Kentucky
Organizations
 As player:
1932
1933-1937
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers
Playing stats at DatabaseFootball.com

John Simms "Shipwreck" Kelly (July 8, 1910 – August 17, 1986) was a professional American football player who played halfback in the National Football League; he was also an owner and banker, most prominent in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s. He played five seasons for the New York Giants (1932) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (1933–1937). Kelly became a player-coach and later a player/coach/owner with the Dodgers football club, the successor to the Dayton Triangles, a charter member of the NFL. The Dodgers, through a couple of reorganizations, became the Baltimore Colts, now the Indianapolis Colts. He gained his nickname from his ability,while at the University of Kentucky, to make a "shipwreck" of opposing defensive lines[citation needed], or from Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly, who was famous for pole-sitting in the 1920s.[1]

BiographyEdit

He was a big, handsome swaggering star with a barrel chest and bowling-pin legs and was often compared to Babe Ruth. He had a charming outsized personality that was unfazed by New York society. He was frequently in attendance at the Stork Club, "21" and El Morocco.

At age 23, Kelly became a player/coach and later a player/coach/owner with the Dodgers football club, which he bought with a partner, Dan Topping. The Dodgers football club was the successor to the Dayton Triangles, a charter member of the NFL. The Dodgers, through a couple of reorganizations, became the Baltimore Colts, now the Indianapolis Colts.

Kelly's real claim to fame was his 1941 marriage, in New York City, to the "Millionaire Debutante" Brenda Frazier, after whom the long-running comic strip Brenda Starr was named. The couple bought a new Packard Darrin convertible off the floor of the New York Auto Show, and palled around NYC with the likes of Jock Whitney and Tom Kerrigan. They were married for fifteen years, and had one daughter Brenda Victoria . In 1956, he married Catherine Hannon. They had a son John Kelly who was in the winter olympics 1980

During World War II, Kelly was recruited by the FBI to travel to Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina to track the activities of wealthy German expatriates helping the Nazi cause.

After the war, Kelly pursued a career as an investment banker, Florida real estate investor and became a champion amateur golfer. He played golf with the Duke of Windsor and Richard Nixon. He was also a big game hunter. He died of a stroke at age 76 and is buried in his home town of Simstown, Kentucky.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Shipwreck Kelly Dies; Football Star in 30's." New York Times 25 Aug. 1986: 6. Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 22 Dec. 2011.

External linksEdit

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