Brian Kelly, 73; Played Father in Popular 1960s TV Series ‘Flipper’

From a Times Staff Writer

Actor Brian Kelly, who starred as Porter Ricks in the popular 1960s’ NBC television series “Flipper,” has died. He was 73.

Kelly died Saturday of pneumonia in Voorhees, N.J., according to a family friend.

Kelly was born Feb. 14, 1931, in Detroit, the son of Harry F. Kelly, who later served as governor of Michigan and as a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court.


Brian Kelly began his acting career after serving in the Marines during the Korean War and attending University of Michigan Law School for a year.

After a number of guest appearances on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Rifleman” and other shows, he was cast as the father of two boys in “Flipper,” which also starred a dolphin as the title character. The series was filmed in Miami and in Nassau, the Bahamas.

In interviews at the time, Kelly said he cherished the role because it portrayed “a parent who gives his kids principles and talks to them about the real values in life.”

In 1966, he appeared in he underwater film, “Around the World Under the Sea.”

In 1970, Kelly was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that left his right arm and leg paralyzed. He later won a legal settlement and continued working in Hollywood, including serving as an executive producer on Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, “Blade Runner.”

Kelly is survived by a daughter, Hallie; a son, Devon; two brothers, two sisters and a granddaughter.

Memorial donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, 22212 Ventura Blvd., Suite 300, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.