Irene "Kelly" Sonnenfeld, wife of lighting industry consultant Sonny Sonnenfeld (who worked for Century, Strand, ETC, and others), passed away on Tuesday, March 7, 2000 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 married to Sonny for over 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 the war, 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.
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." The online review continues, "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 specialconsultant to the program, which is now produced by Entertainment Design and Lighting Dimensions magazines. A scholarship in Kelly's name will be established at Hunter College in New York City.