Irene "Kelly" Sonnenfeld, wife of lighting industry consultant Sonny Sonnenfeld (who has worked for Century, Strand, ETC, and others), passed away on March 7 in New York City. She was 78 years old. Known both professionally and to her friends as "Kelly" (short for Kellermann--her maiden name), she was a true soulmate to her husband; they were married for more than 50 years. Their son, Barry Sonnenfeld, is a leading film director whose credits include The Addams Family, Men in Black, and Get Shorty.
Upon graduation from Hunter College, Kelly attended the New School where she studied lighting under Abe Feder. During World War II she worked as a stage manager at the Stage Door Canteen and toured with the Lunchtime Follies with Zero Mostel and others providing entertainment during lunch breaks in plants working toward the war effort.
Kelly taught school for 23 years, including art classes for all grades at PS 173 in New York City. She received a special citation from UNICEF for collecting more money from her students' art shows on behalf of UNICEF than any other school in the country.
She was also a union representative, as well as the author of Memories of Clason Point, an engaging memoir of growing up as a bootlegger's daughter in the Bronx. It is described on Amazon.com as "an unusually evocative picture of family life during the Depression that transports the reader back through time with sensual imagery, dialogue, and minutely descriptive detail. Kelly Sonnenfeld's extraordinary recall has allowed her to recreate the lively scenes, pastimes, and characters of her own childhood, all centered on one block in the famous multi-ethnic Bronx neighborhood of Clason Point."
The Broadway Lighting Master Classes were founded by Sonny Sonnenfeld in 1993, and he continues to serve as a special consultant to the program which is now produced by Lighting Dimensions and Entertainment Design magazines. The eighth annual BLMC (December 6-10, 2000) will be dedicated to Kelly Sonnenfeld. In addition, a scholarship in her name will be established at Hunter College in New York City.