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Remembering talents of a local star

Friends, family and colleagues were mourning Friday the

death of Long Islander and independent film personality Adrienne Shelly, who

one former co-star described as director Hal Hartley's "strongest muse."

Shelly, 40, who was born Adrienne Levine, was found hanging from a shower

rod Wednesday evening by her husband in the couple's West Village apartment,

according to police sources. The medical examiner has not disclosed the results

of an autopsy.

A somber Hartley, reached in Germany, declined comment, but acknowledged he

had heard the news of Shelly's death. "I know, I know, I know," he said

quietly over the telephone.

Shelly, who was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island, often spoke

proudly of her Long Island roots, where she started acting at an early age,

appearing in musicals while attending Jericho High School.

She was last seen by New York audiences on the big screen in September

opposite Matt Dillon in the Charles Bukowski-inspired drama "Factotum," but

Shelly was perhaps best known for her work with Hartley, the quirky cult movie

icon, in such titles as 1989's "The Unbelievable Truth" and 1990's "Trust,"

which won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.

"She was one of those committed people in the independent film world who

saw what she was doing as a cause," Newsday film critic Gene Seymour said.

Bill Sage, an actor who appeared with her in "The Unbelievable Truth,"

"Trust" and several other projects, said Shelly's acting style was a perfect

match for Hartley's comic sensibilities.

"Her inclination toward understated humor greatly inspired what became

Hal's trademark," Sage said. "She never stopped being creative, intelligent and

brilliantly funny."

Shelly returned to the stage later in life. The former Boston University

film student performed in several productions with Manhattan's Workhouse

Theatre Ltd. and the New Group. She also wrote and directed a number of plays

and most recently performed public readings locally with Sasha Eden and

Victoria Pettibone.

Many have pointed to the actress' 1993 little-known comedy "Hold Me, Thrill

Me, Kiss Me" as her best work.

She moved to behind the camera in 1994 with the short film "Urban Legend."

She completed her first full-length feature, "Sudden Manhattan," in 1997.

In 2000, she was honored by the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival for "I'll Take

You There," a film that Newsday hailed as a "playfully arch romantic comedy"

through which Shelly "came into her own as a filmmaker."

Her latest film, "Waitress," starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, is

in post-production, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Shelly is survived by her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Sophie. Funeral

arrangements have not been completed.

Staff writer Rocco Parascandola contributed to this report.

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