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Kelly McGillis
McGillis at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival
Born (1957-07-09) July 9, 1957 (age 65)
Education Allan Hancock College
Juilliard School (BFA)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
Notable work
Boyd Black
(m. 1979; div. 1981)

Fred Tillman
(m. 1989; div. 2002)
Partner(s) Melanie Leis (2010–2011)
Children 2

Kelly Ann McGillis (born July 9, 1957) is an American stage and screen actress. She is known for her film roles such as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985), for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations; Charlie in Top Gun (1986); Made in Heaven (1987); The House on Carroll Street (1988); and as Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988). In her later career, she has starred in horror films such as Stake Land (2010), The Innkeepers (2011), and We Are What We Are (2013).

Early life

McGillis was born on July 9, 1957, in the southern California suburb of Newport Beach, the eldest of three daughters born to Virginia Joan (née Snell), a homemaker, and Donald Manson McGillis, a physician. Her paternal ancestry is Scots-Irish, and her maternal ancestry is German; she also has Welsh ancestry. She attended Newport Harbor High School.

McGillis was raised in Los Angeles, and attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. After getting her GED after dropping out of high school in 1975, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Juilliard School, where she graduated in 1983, Group 12.



After making her film debut in Reuben, Reuben in 1983, McGillis' breakout role was that of an Amish mother in Witness (1985) for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations. Her next high-profile role was that of flight instructor Charlotte Blackwood (call sign "Charlie") in the 1986 fighter-pilot film Top Gun.

In 1987, McGillis acted in the romance film Made in Heaven, directed by Alan Rudolph, which was produced by Lorimar Productions.

McGillis played the part of caretaker for Miss Venable (Jessica Tandy) in 1988's The House on Carroll Street, which also starred Jeff Daniels. She overhears a suspicious conversation in the house next door and suspects that she's stumbled on a conspiracy to smuggle Nazi war criminals into the United States.

After 1988's The Accused, she appeared in Cat Chaser with Peter Weller, a film she despised and which discouraged her from pursuing an acting career. McGillis appeared in dozens of television and film roles throughout the 1990s before taking a break from acting for a few years.

McGillis played the part of Babe Ruth's second wife, Claire Merritt Ruth, in The Babe (1992). From the late-1980s to the mid-1990s, McGillis appeared in Winter People (1989), and North (1994), her second Amish part in television or film, as well as several made-for-TV films.

In 1999, McGillis co-starred with Val Kilmer (who plays Virgil, a blind man), for a second time as his over protective sister in At First Sight.

She played the suspect in the disappearance of a young woman in The Monkey's Mask, an international lesbian cult film from 2000 starring Susie Porter. The film is based on the verse novel of the same name by Australian poet Dorothy Porter.


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

She starred in the 1984 television movie Sweet Revenge (also known as Bittersweet Revenge) with Alec Baldwin.

Other television films during the 1980s included Private Sessions in 1985, and as a narrator in Santabear's First Christmas. She also narrated the documentary Out of Ireland for PBS in 1995.


While at Juilliard she performed in William Congreve's Love for Love, directed by John Bletchley. She appeared in a couple of off-broadway and Broadway theater productions during the 1980s in New York City.

During the late-1980s and through the mid-2000s, McGillis was a featured actress at the prestigious Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC. In 2002, she appeared in production of John Webber's play "The Duchess of Malfi" at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, DC.

In 2004, she appeared in the stage play The Graduate as Mrs. Robinson, touring the United States. McGillis starred in a Pasadena Playhouse stage production of The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman in May 2009, co-starring with Julia Duffy.

Her stage work includes: Don Juan (1982), The Sea Gull (1985), Peccadillo (1985), The Merchant of Venice (1988), Twelfth Night (1989), Mary Stuart (1990), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1990), Hedda Gabler (1994), Mourning Becomes Electra (1997), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), Measure for Measure (1999) and The Graduate (2004), together with additional roles in Love for Love, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Three Sisters and The Winter's Tale.

She also appeared in a production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, which toured the United Kingdom in 2010.

Return to film and TV

She began working in television again in 2006, then in 2007 joined the cast of Showtime's The L Word for its fifth season.

She had a role in the 2010 vampire film Stake Land, directed by Jim Mickle, starring alongside Nick Damici, Connor Paolo and Danielle Harris.

McGillis was featured in a breast cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, released in 2010.

She starred in Ti West's 2011 thriller The Innkeepers, We Are What We Are and Tio Papi in 2013, Grand Street, Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio (which was McGillis' third Amish-themed film), Z Nation, and an episode of Sisters of Mercy in 2014, and Blue in 2015.

An Uncommon Grace on Hallmark Channel was McGillis' fourth Amish themed film. and she had the lead role in Mother of All Secrets (filmed in Bermuda) in 2017 as Rose Lewis.


McGillis has been cast in the lead role in the biographical film Annie Cook.

Personal life

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

..... Leroy Johnson, who was 15 years old at the time, was sentenced to three years in prison, but the other assailant had all charges dropped due to a lack of corroborative evidence.

"The Centurion", a 110-foot schooner valued at $1.5 million owned by McGillis and her husband, Fred Tillman, was destroyed by fire in April 1996 at a marina in Dania, Florida. The fire started on an adjacent boat at the Port LauDania marina on a Dania Cutoff Canal and spread to the schooner. Tillman had brought the boat from the couple's home in Key West in hopes of selling it at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.

McGillis came out as a lesbian in 2009 during an interview with SheWired. In 2010, she entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis, a Philadelphia sales executive. She and McGillis had 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. Their union was dissolved the following year.


McGillis currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. As of 2013, she has taught acting at the New York Studio for Stage and Screen NYS3 in Asheville, North Carolina.

2016 home invasion

McGillis was left scratched and bruised after being assaulted by a woman who broke into her North Carolina home on June 17, 2016. She said the attack, as well as others she has experienced in the past, led her to apply for a concealed carry gun permit to protect herself. Following the incident, a 38-year-old woman, Laurence Marie Dorn, was charged with second-degree burglary, misdemeanor larceny, misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery, and interfering with emergency communication. Dorn was later convicted of misdemeanor breaking and entering and sentenced to probation.



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Reuben, Reuben Geneva Spofford
1985 Witness Rachel Lapp
1986 Top Gun Charlotte 'Charlie' Blackwood
1987 Made in Heaven Annie Packert / Ally Chandler
1987 Unsettled Land Anda
1987 Santabear's High Flying Adventure Missy Bear (voice) Short
1988 House on Carroll Street, TheThe House on Carroll Street Emily Crane
1988 Accused, TheThe Accused Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Murphy
1989 Winter People Collie Wright
1989 Cat Chaser Mary DeBoya
1989 Rabbit Ears: Thumbelina Narrator Video short
1991 Grand Isle Edna Pontellier
1992 Weather Is Good on Deribasovskaya, It Rains Again on Brighton Beach Marriott Manager
1992 The Babe Claire Merritt Ruth
1992 Rabbit Ears: Noah and the Ark Narrator Video short
1994 North Amish Mother
1998 Painted Angels Nettie
1998 Ground Control Susan Stratton
1999 At First Sight Jennie Adamson
1999 Settlement, TheThe Settlement Fake Barbara / Ellie
2000 Monkey's Mask, TheThe Monkey's Mask Professor Diana Maitland
2001 No One Can Hear You Trish Burchall
2001 Morgan's Ferry Vonnie Carpenter
2007 Supergator Kim Taft
2010 Stake Land Sister
2011 Innkeepers, TheThe Innkeepers Leanne Rease-Jones
2011 What Could Have Been Margaret
2013 We Are What We Are Marge
2013 Tio Papi Elizabeth Warden
2014 Grand Street Isabelle
2015 Blue Ms. Hutcherson
2018 Maternal Secrets Rose Lewis
2022 Top Gun: Maverick Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood Cameo
Archival footage


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Sweet Revenge Katherine Dennison Breen TV film
1984 One Life to Live Glenda Livingston Unknown episodes
1985 Private Sessions Jennifer Coles TV film
1986 Santabear's First Christmas Narrator (voice) TV film
1992 Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing Mrs. Joel McKelvey TV film
1993 Bonds of Love Rose Parks TV film
1994 In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride & Madness Susie Lynch TV film
1995 Dark Eyes Mila McGann Unsold TV pilot
1995 Remember Me adapted from the novel by Mary Higgins Clark Menly Nichols TV film
1995 Out of Ireland Narrator, Documentary Film PBS TV film
1996 We the Jury Alyce Bell TV film
1997 The Third Twin Dr. Jean 'Jeannie' Ferrami TV film
1998 Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twister Jamie Marshall TV film
1998 Perfect Prey Audrey Macleah TV film
2000 Wild Thornberrys, TheThe Wild Thornberrys Winema (voice) Episodes: "Pack of Thornberrys"
2000 Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits Nicole Whitley Episodes: "Final Appeal: Parts 1 & 2"
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Gorgeous Woman (voice) Episode: "Planet of the Lost"
2006 Black Widower Nancy Westveld TV film
2008 L Word, TheThe L Word Colonel Gillian Davis Episodes: "Lesbians Gone Wild", "Lay Down the Law"
2014 Love Finds You in Sugarcreek Bertha Troyler TV film
2014 Z Nation Helen Episode: "Sisters of Mercy"
2017 An Uncommon Grace Elizabeth Conner Hallmark Channel TV film

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1986 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Witness Nominated
1986 BAFTA Award Best Actress Witness Nominated
1986 Bravo Otto Best Actress Top Gun Won
1987 Bravo Otto Best Actress Made in Heaven Won
1987 Golden Ciak Best Actress Made in Heaven Won
1988 Bravo Otto Best Actress The Accused Bronze
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