Monday, May 28, 2007

 

Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007)


People always think I'm exaggerating when I say something like "Charles Nelson Reilly taught me to read," but believe me, it was true. Sure, Sesame Street probably played some small role in getting me able to read at 3, but the true teachers were TV Guide and Reilly and other celebrities on the late great game show Match Game. Dumb Dora may have been dumb, but when those stars filled in the blanks, complete with the words spelled out neatly on those little blue cards, I was able to start putting words together.

Of course, Reilly's work in theater, films and television extended far beyond his role as my reading tutor. He won a Tony Award for originating the role of Bud Frump in the great Frank Loesser musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, though he didn't get to repeat the role in the film version. He later earned Tony nominations for playing Cornelius in the original production of Hello, Dolly! and for directing Julie Harris and Charles Durning in a 1997 revival of The Gin Game.

Still, his legacy will probably be greatest to those who remember his frequent television appearances, where he flouted his flamboyance, much in the way Paul Lynde did, and spun stories so interesting that Johnny Carson invited him to sit with him on The Tonight Show more than 95 times.

He also appeared regularly on various shows, as a regular on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and multiple times on Love, American Style.

For many younger viewers (and myself as well), he may be best remembered for playing the title role in the classic X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," a role he repeated on the Chris Carter series Millennium.

His film work was more sparse, including a role with good friend Burt Reynolds in one of the worst sequels (and films) of all time: The Cannonball Run II.

To read the AP obit, click here.


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Comments:
I remember him from Match Game, he was hilarious. I wonder if I can get those on DVD?
 
He's playing Match Game with Gene Rayburn in Game Show heaven.

Charles Nelson Reilly didn't teach me how to read, but as a kid I used to think he had something going on with Brett. Of course, I was wrong; his flamboyance obviously didn't register to a more innocent version of me! He'll be missed.
 
LOVE LOVE LOVE CHARLES. FUNNY YOU MENTION LEARNING TO READ BY WATCHING MATCH GAME. FUNNY. I TOO WAS GROWING UP THEN, IN A SMALL RURAL AREA. IT TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIFE THRU THEIR SUBLTE AND OFTEN TIMES NOT SO SUBTLE RESPONSES. TODAY I CAUGHT BRETT ON PASSWORD PLUS, WHERE SHE ACTUALLY SUCKED, LOO, AND AS THEY WERE CLOSING OUT, ALAN L SAID, SORRY YOU LADIES DIDN'T SCORE, TO WHICH BRETT REPLIED, MAYBE NOT HERE, BUT I SCORE PLENTY ELSEWHERE. SO WITTY AND HONEST.
 
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