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Indie Film Actress Adrienne Shelly


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Indie Film Actress Adrienne Shelly

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Adrienne Shelly

NEW YORK CITY, New York -- Adrienne Shelly, an Indie film actress who gained fame as filmmaker Hal Hartley's early muse, was found dead on Wednesday, November 1 in her apartment in Greenwich Village, from an apparent suicide. Shelly was discovered by her husband, her agent said. Police are investigating the death. She was 40.

Shelly was found dead in her Manhattan apartment in an apparent suicide, police said. She was discovered by her husband about 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday hanging from a bedsheet at their Abingdon Square flat in the West Village, sources said. There were no signs of struggle in the apartment and no signs of trauma to the body.

Shelly lived in lower Manhattan with her husband, Andy Ostroy and their three-year-old daughter, Sophie. Police said they are awaiting autopsy results before deciding whether to investigate the case as foul play. The city medical examiner performed an autopsy but the official cause of death is pending toxicology reports, authorities said.

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Adrienne Shelly

Shelly appeared as Jerry in the 2005 film, "Factotum," with Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei. However, she was best known as an independent movie icon and the star of Hartley's Chekhovian film comedies, 1989's "The Unbelievable Truth" and 1990's "Trust."

Shelley was born Adrienne Levine in July of 1966 in Queens and raised on Long Island. Her upbringing was influenced by a love of baseball and the death of her father when she was 12. His first name, Shelly, became his daughter's professional surname.

She began acting at performing arts camp when she was ten years old and got her first professional job in a summer stock production of "Annie" while still in high school. After studying at Boston University, she entered the world of independent filmmaking.

Shelly made her film debut as Audry Hugo in Hartley's 1989 film, "The Unbelievable Truth" and as Maria Coughlin in his 1990 film, "Trust." Petite, blonde and pretty in a waif-like way, she was a master at embodying Hartley's deapan, yet soulful comic vision of everyday life.

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Adrienne Shelly and Michael Risley in the

2002 film, 'Exile's Revolution #9'

In addition to other independent films such as "Sleep With Me" and "Grind," she also appeared in episodes of television series such as "Law and Order," "Oz" and "Homicide: Life on the Street." She also appeared in a number of theatrical productions with the Manhattan stage company, Workhouse Theatre Ltd.

In 1991, Shelly starred in the New Group production of "Paradise Island," playing a daughter who takes a disasterous vacation with her mother. Although she worked steadily during her career in film, theater and television, none of her subsequent film or stage roles matched the success of the Hartley films.

After writing a number of plays and directing the 1994 short, "Urban Legend," Shelly made her feature debut behind the camera with "Sudden Manhattan" in 1996. Shelly also starred in the comedy as a self-obsessed New Yorker. The film earned her positive reviews -- many noted Hartley's apparent stylistic influence.

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Adrienne Shelly

In recent years, in addition to directing, Shelly added screenwriting to her repertoire, often starring in her own projects, according to her agent of about a decade, Rachel Sheedy. "She was an incredibly sweet and talented and generous woman," Shady said.

After appearing in the 1998 independent romantic drama, "Wrestling with Alligators," Shelly again stepped behind the camera, writing, directing and starring in "I'll Take You There," a romantic comedy about a very, very bad date.

Her latest film, "Waitress," starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, was recently completed. "She was so psyched about the film," Sheedy said. "She gathered an amazing cast, and she was really happy and excited to hear back from Sundance about it."

She is survived by her husband, Andy Ostroy and their three-year-old daughter, Sophie.

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Brooklyn Man Held in Actress' Death

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Indie Actress Adrienne Shelly

A construction worker was jailed without bail Tuesday after confessing to the slaying of an actress left hanging from a shower rod in the bathroom of a Manhattan apartment. Diego Pillco, 19, made written and videotaped statements implicating himself in the slaying of Adrienne Shelly according to Assistant District Attorney Marit Delozier.

At Pillo's arraignment in state Supreme Court, Pillco was ordered held without bail pending a Thursday hearing. "He said he fought with the victim, tied a sheet around her neck and dragged her to the bathroom and hung her from the shower rod," Delozier said at the brief hearing. "This is an exceptionally egregious case."

Shelly, who appeared in the movie "Factotum" with Matt Dillon last year, was renovating the Greenwich Village apartment she used as her office. Pillco, one of the workers, was one of the last people seen going into the apartment, police said.

Shelly, whose birth name was Adrienne Levine, was found last Wednesday at about 6 p.m. hanging from a shower rod over the bathtub. Police were hesitant to label the case a suicide, observing that no note was found and sneaker prints that did not match Shelly's shoes were recovered from the bathtub.

Shelly, who was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island, was raising a three-year-old daughter, Sophie, with her husband, Andy Ostroy. Her husband discovered the actress' body in the fourth-floor apartment, where he had dropped Shelly off hours earlier.

Shelly, 40, was best known for her roles in the Hal Hartley films, "The Unbelievable Truth," in which she played Audry Hugo in 1989 and "Trust," in which she starred as Maria Coughlin in 1990.

She worked steadily during her career in film, theater and television but later turned to writing and directing, making her directorial debut with "Sudden Manhattan" in 1996. She recently wrote and directed the film, "Waitress," starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.

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