EMERGENCY 1972-2022 50 years on TV let's Celebrate


September 3rd, 1944 – September 17th, 2021

Timothy David Donnelly, 77, of Santa Fe, died Friday, September 17, 2021.  He was born to the late Paul and Eileen Donnelly, September 3, 1944, in Los Angeles, CA.

Tim was an actor by trade who played various bit acting roles throughout the 1960’s and 70’s on well-known television shows including Dragnet and Adam-12 until securing a lead role on EMERGENCY! in 1972, in which he played Chester B. “Chet” Kelly.  After the show’s end in 1979, he continued to act in various film and television roles including “The Toolbox Murders,” “The Clonus Horror,” CHiPs and The A-Team.  After retiring from acting, he worked close to 20 years as a set painter within the film and television industry.  Upon his retirement, he lived the remainder of his life in Santa Fe, NM.

Tim is survived by his daughter Ashley Horne, son-in-law Josh Horne, grandsons Colin (11) and Graeme Horne (8), and sister Kathy Buehler and brother Dennis Donnelly.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made out to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum or the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Timothy David Donnelly, please visit the Berardinelli Funeral Home’s floral store.

Cards may be directed to Dennis Donnelly, c/o Los Angeles County Fire Museum Association, 9834 Flora Vista St., Bellflower, CA 90706.

Leave your own tribute on the Tim Donnelly Fan Memorial Page.


I deeply regret not staying closer to Tim Donnelly, after the show ended, as I did Kevin Tighe. Tim was always in my thoughts, though. After seven years of friendly banter with “Chet” I will miss him dearly. Tim always had a twinkle of mischief in his eye and would always be so amused when his good-natured pranks were successful. I once told him he was the most lovable pain in the ass I knew. He would laugh heartily and announce, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Every time I think of Tim, I smile. I’ll miss you buddy.


Randolph Mantooth

Tim and I were both part of the community of EMERGENCY!. Tim was a good guy and a highly professional actor.

He will be missed.

Mike Norrell

There was something special about Tim Donnelly that I got to see while working with him on Emergency!  He was like Harry Morgan on Dragnet in that they both had this flare of coming on set with a joke or funny saying that would crack up everyone on set and that would start our day.  I met Tim on Dragnet and was happy to have been his riding partner as firefighters on Engine 51 on Emergency.  

May the Lord keep your spirt safe, dear Tim. 

Marco Lopez

Tim Donnelly played a charming, irrepressible firefighter on the iconic show Emergency!, and he was as charming and irrepressible in real life. Tim came from a show business family and did them proud. He will be missed.

May he rest in peace.

Hannah Shearer

Timothy David Donnelly was born into the Irish nobility of Show Business – his father Paul, a producer, his mother, Eileen, an actress, his brother, Kevin, an aerial stunt man, and his brother, Dennis, a director. Tim shared that legacy with all of us, ever expanding his role as Fireman Chet Kelly on the set of “Emergency”. He was a generous, hence respected actor, always contributing a rich store of humor to members of the cast and crew.

I have fond memories of meeting Tim at a local pub on St. Paddy’s Day. He was a wiz at the dartboard, enjoying a loss as well as a win, and always capable of adding a particular quip to that camaraderie floating free above the crowd: “Stick with me, pal, and I’ll have you farting through silk underwear.”

Everyone loved Tim. No matter how many drafts of Guinness were pulled, he always left enough in the glass to listen.

Rivers are running over
With red beer and brown beer.
An old man plays the bagpipes
In a golden and silver wood;
Queens, their eyes blue like the ice,
Are dancing in a crowd.
W. B. Yeats

He had a sister, Kathleen, whom he loved, and a daughter, Ashley, whom he adored. Timothy was one of a kind and made life for all of us easier, just by being around.

Kevin Tighe

Tim made the set of Emergency fun. He was a great guy to work with, but most importantly, he was a good guy.

Mike Stoker

E 51 LA Co Fire Museum logo and E51
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