Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

‘Emergency’ actor Tim Donnelly, a longtime Santa Fean, dies | Local News

Anyone who drove past the Catholic Church of San Isidro when the red fire truck arrived on site on Saturday might have thought that a firefighter would be mourned at a memorial service.

And that was true in a way.

Actor Tim Donnelly, who appeared in the 1970 series Emergency! played the carefree firefighter Chet Kelly was buried. The Santa Fe City Fire Department sent a truck, jacket, and helmet to pay tribute to a man who helped raise awareness of their work.

Donnelly, who had lived in Santa Fe since 2003, died at the age of 77 from complications following a recent surgery, his brother Dennis Donnelly said on Sunday by phone.

An exciting mix of save-the-day action, humor and soap opera, Emergency! was about the emergency medical team at fictional Station 51 in Southern California. The show proved hugely popular with viewers who were turned off from similar action shows on the street such as Adam-12 and Dragnet, and it is credited for drawing attention to the work of first responders. Emergency! ran six seasons, from 1972-1978.

Donnelly’s character can be expected to infuse every scene with comedy, and his brother Dennis, who directed a few shows, said Tim “understood his role and played it well.”

Donnelly’s daughter Ashley Horne said in a telephone interview that her father was “the role. He lived the life of Chet, so to speak. He was a joker and had a little twinkle in his eyes. Deep down he was a soft-hearted, really lovable friend. “

Donnelly often featured a doggie face in the role, and it came as no surprise that he became the actor most associated with the show’s Basset Hound mascot, Henry.

Dennis Donnelly said with a laugh that his brother knew something good when he saw it. “Nobody but Tim wanted to work with the dog,” he said. “He realized how much airtime he would work with this dog. He would fire a lot of shots with the dog. “

Marco Lopez, one of Tim Donnelly’s co-stars on the show, wrote in Emergency! Facebook page where Donnelly “was like Harry Morgan in Dragnet, they both had that flare-up to come to the set with a joke or funny saying that would make everyone on the set laugh and start our day.”

Timothy Donnelly was born in Los Angeles on September 3, 1944. His father Paul Donnelly worked for decades in various functions, including production manager, in Hollywood. Tim Donnelly got into the film business as a child and youth actor with the help of well-known cult film director Don Siegel, said Dennis Donnelly.

“Don Siegel put us in every movie back then, including Baby Face Nelson, because he was [Tim’s] Godfather, ”said Dennis Donnelly.

Tim Donnelly began working television regularly in the 1960s, appearing on programs such as Dragnet, Adam-12, and Hawaii Five-0.

When the acting roles after the cancellation of Emergency! He switched gears in the late 1970s and embarked on a long career as a film set painter, his brother said.

Santa Fe-resident Edward Khmara, a childhood friend of the Donnellys in the 1940s and 1950s who came back in contact with him decades later in Santa Fe, said Donnelly loved Santa Fe and quickly became for his love for wandering and often helpless animals known. Donnelly looked after a number of feral cats and a family of skunks that lived under his porch but sometimes wandered into the house.

“I asked him: ‘Don’t they stink in the house?’ and he said, ‘Not my place. I feed them! ‘ “, Khmara recalled with a laugh.

During the heyday of Emergency! Tim Donnelly was often recognized and autographed by fans, said lifelong friend Keith Ehlert of Santa Fe.

Ehlert said there was a time when it seemed like Donnelly’s sense of fame was universal. The two men drove in Ehlert’s four-wheel drive vehicle to the remote and arid Saline Valley in California. After a sudden thunderstorm covered the street in mud, the two men set off only to encounter a family of four whose vehicle had stalled in a mudslide.

When Donnelly jumped out of the vehicle to see if he could help, the little boy in the family turned to his mother and said, “Mom, it’s an emergency! Were rescued!”

Tim Donnelly was planning to attend a 50th cast and crew reunion for Emergency! Show in Los Angeles in January, his brother said. “Tim really wanted to go,” said Dennis Donnelly.

The Los Angeles County Fire Museum displays many Emergency! Memorabilia. and continues to honor the show. Dennis Donnelly said officials from the museum reached out to the Santa Fe Fire Department to ask if they could send a fire truck to his brother’s funeral.

Ashley Horne said that if her father had seen the truck pull up to his service on Saturday, “he would have smiled from ear to ear.”

Comments are closed.