Adrienne Shelly

Adrienne Shelly (June 24, 1966 or June 30, 1966 – November 1, 2006), sometimes credited as Adrienne Shelley and by her birth name, Adrienne Levine, was an American actress, director, and screenwriter. Shelly was murdered in her office.

Of Russian Jewish descent, Shelly was born in Queens, New York, to Sheldon M. Levine and Elaine Langbaum. She had two brothers, Jeff and Mark, and was raised on Long Island. She began performing when she was about 10 at a performing arts camp. She made her professional debut in a summer stock production of the musical Annie while a student at Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. She went on to Boston University, majoring in film production, but dropped out after her junior year and moved to Manhattan.

Shelly's career breakthrough came in her starring roles in independent filmmaker Hal Hartley's The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust (1990), the latter of which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, where Hartley's script tied for the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

She appeared in a number of films during the 1990s, and as she segued toward a behind-the-camera career she wrote and directed others, including 1999's I'll Take You There, in which she appeared along with Ally Sheedy. She won a U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Film Discovery Jury Award in 2000 for direction of the film, and Prize of the City of Setúbal: Special Mention, at the Festróia (Tróia International Film Festival) held in Setúbal, Portugal for best director.

She also guest-starred in a number of television series including Law & Order, Oz, and Homicide: Life on the Street. She played major roles in over two dozen off-Broadway plays, often at Manhattan's Workhouse Theater. In 2005 she co-starred in the film Factotum with Matt Dillon. Her last known work was writing and directing the film Waitress, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

Shelly, who took her professional surname after her late father's given name, was married to Andrew Ostroy, the chairman and CEO of the marketing firm Belardi/Ostroy ALC. They had a daughter, Sophie, who was two years old at the time of Shelly's death.

At about 5:45 p.m on November 1, 2006, Shelly's husband found her hanging by a bedsheet from a shower rod in the bathtub of an Abingdon Square apartment in the West Village section of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, in what at first appeared to be a suicide. Shelly, who lived in Tribeca, used the apartment as an office. Ostroy had dropped her off at 9:30 a.m. that day, and as the building's doorman told journalists, "He hadn't heard from her and he said it was odd not to hear from her, so he was nervous. And he asked me to go up to the apartment with him, so we went to the front door, and it was unlocked".

An autopsy was performed the following day. The New York City Police Department were suspicious of sneaker prints in the bathtub that did not match Shelly's shoes, who was found wearing only socks. Shelly's husband also indicated that there was money missing from Shelly's wallet. He vigorously denied allegations that she could have committed suicide.

Press reports on November 6, 2006 stated that police had arrested construction worker Diego Pillco, a 19-year-old illegal immigrant who confessed to killing Shelly after she complained about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. Pillco said that he "was having a bad day." Police said Pillco had made videos implicating himself in the murder, and as of November 7 was being held without bail for her murder.

Following his wife's death, Ostroy established the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit organization that will award film school scholarships and grants to women filmmakers.

Her murder inspired an episode of the US television network NBC crime drama Law & Order. Originally broadcast on 16 February 2007, the Season 17 episode, entitled "Melting Pot", is a thinly-veiled and admitted dramatization of Shelly's murder. Shelly herself guest starred in a Season 10 episode of Law & Order entitled "High & Low" (17 May 2000), in which she portrayed the character Wendy Alston.

Shelly died before learning her film, Waitress, had been accepted into the Sundance film festival.


* The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
* Trust (1990)
* Big Girls Don't Cry... They Get Even (1992)
* Hexed (1993)
* Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me (1993)
* The Road Killers (1994)
* Teresa's Tattoo (1994)
* Road (1994)
* Sleep With Me (1994)
* Sudden Manhattan (1996)
* Grind (1996)
* Wrestling With Alligators (1999)
* I'll Take You There (1999)
* Dead Dog (2000)
* Rock the Boat (2000)(TV)
* The Shadows of Bob and Zelda (2000)
* Revolution #9 (2001)
* The Sea (2002)
* Searching for Deborah Winger (2002)
* In the Company of Women (2004)
* Tiger His Fall and Rise (2004)
* Factotum (2005)
* Waitress (2007)

Writing and directing:

* Lois Lives a Little (1997)
* Sudden Manhattan (1997)
* I'll Take You There (1999)
* The Shadows of Bob and Zelda (1999)
* Waitress (2007)Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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