Biographies - Charles Nelson Reilly
Image Source: Wikipedia: Charles Nelson Reilly
|Charles Nelson Reilly |
|Born: January 13, 1931|
|Died: May 25, 2007|
American actor, director and drama teacher known for his comedic roles in movies, animated cartoons, children's television and as a panelist on the 1970s and 80s version of the game show "Match Game."
Charles Nelson Reilly Tony Award-winning American actor, comedian, director, and drama teacher known for his comedic roles in movies, childrens television, animated cartoons, and as a panelist on the game show "Match Game."
Reilly made his first movie appearance in 1957, playing an uncredited role in the Elia Kazan film "A Face in the Crowd." However, most of his work during this period was on the stage, as he appeared in many off-Broadway shows. His big Broadway break came in 1960 with a minor part in the hit "Bye Bye Birdie." Reilly would go on to win a Tony Award for his performance in 1962s "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," and he was nominated for another Tony two years later, for his work as Cornelius Hackl in the Broadway production of "Hello, Dolly!."
While he kept active in Broadway shows, Reilly would soon become better known for his TV work. In 1965, he made regular appearances on "The Steve Lawrence Show," which aired for a single season. From 1968 to 1970, he appeared as uptight Claymore Gregg on the television series "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," which also starred Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare, in which he was reunited with "Hello, Dolly!" Broadway co-star, Eileen Brennan on one episode.
In 1971, he appeared as the evil magician Hoodoo in "Lidsville," a psychedelically flavored live-action childrens program produced by Sid and Marty Krofft that aired on Saturday mornings on ABC. The show was about a boy who falls into a magicians hat and enters a magical world of hat people. It is through these roles, as well as his playing the titular role in "Uncle Crocs Block," that Reillys voice and mannerisms were embedded in a generation of young fans.
During the 1970s Reilly also appeared as a regular on "The Dean Martin Show," and had multiple guest appearances on television series including "McMillan and Wife," "Heres Lucy," "Laugh In," "The Love Boat" and "Love, American Style" and was also a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." During this time Reilly was perhaps best known as a fixture of game shows, primarily due to his appearances as a regular panelist on the television game show "Match Game." Reilly was the longest running guest, and often engaged in petty arguments with fellow regular Brett Somers. Reilly typically offered sardonic commentary and peppered his answers with gay-themed double entendres that pushed the boundaries of 1970s television standards.
From 1975-1976 Reilly starred in another live-action childrens program called "Uncle Crocs Block" with Jonathan Harris. Reilly was often a guest celebrity in the 1984 game show "Body Language," including one week with Lucille Ball and another week with Audrey Landers.
From 1980, Reilly was primarily active teaching acting and directing for television and theater. He directed episodes of the "Evening Shade "television series in 1990 and earned a 1997 Tony Award nomination as Best Director of a Play for working with longtime pal Julie Harris, opposite whom he had acted in "Skyscraper," and whom he had directed in "The Belle of Amherst" and a revival of "The Gin Game."
Reilly was a longtime teacher of acting at HB Studio, the acting studio created by Herbert Berghof and his wife, Uta Hagen. His acting students included Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler.
In the 1990s Reilly made guest appearances on "The Drew Carey Show," "The Larry Sanders Show," and most notably, as eccentric writer Jose Chung in the television series "The X-Files" ("Jose Chungs "From Outer Space"") and "Millennium" ("Jose Chungs Doomsday Defense"). Reilly was nominated for Emmy Awards in 1998 and 1999 for his performances in "The Drew Carey Show" and "Millennium," respectively. From the late 1990s, Reilly directed theater and opera, touring the country performing a critically acclaimed one man stage show chronicling his life called Save It For the Stage: The Life of Reilly and occasionally performing as the voice of "The Dirty Bubble" on the animated series "SpongeBob SquarePants." In 2006, his stage show was made into a feature film called "The Life of Reilly."
Reilly did not publicly come out as gay until his one man show Save It for the Stage. However, much like fellow game show regular Paul Lynde, Reilly played up a campy onscreen persona. In many episodes of Match Game, he would lampoon himself by briefly affecting a deep voice and self-consciously describing how "butch" he was. He mentioned in a 2002 interview with Entertainment Tonight that he felt no need to come out of the closet and that he never purposefully hid his homosexuality from anyone.
Patrick Hughes III, a set decorator and dresser, was Reillys partner; the two met backstage while Reilly was appearing on the game show "Battlestars." They lived in Beverly Hills.
On May 25, 2007, Reilly died at his home from complications from pneumonia after a year long illness.