Monday, May 28, 2007

Charles Nelson Reilly - RIP

Charles Nelson Reilly - RIP

Late yesterday, I learned that noted comedian, actor (Broadway's Hello Dolly and television's "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir" to name a couple) and -- yes -- director Charles Nelson Reilly died at the age of 76. Despite the picture above, he was anything but boring.

While younger audiences would be forgiven for thinking of him as his latter-day caricature of himself from game shows like "Match Game," I remember him best for his brilliance as a director, including his debut at the helm for The Belle Of Amherst with the incomparable Julie Harris.

I saw the one-woman show about poet Emily Dickinson starring one of theatre's most celebrated actresses when it toured Milwaukee's Pabst Theatre sometime around 1980. My recollection is of being in awe of theatrical royalty, yet I was also struck by the fact that here was this man -- of whom I had always thought was just plain silly -- who was now directing such a fine piece of theatre.

It certainly served as one of my earliest, formative theatre experiences that I still fondly remember to this day. Of course, I realize that it was in part because of Charles Nelson Reilly. For more about his contributions to theatre, check out the obituary from Playbill.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 28 May, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

What a nice memory of Charles Nelson Reilly. It's interesting, like Kitty Carlise Hart, he's mostly remembered for game show appearances, but he had this whole other career that most people never knew anything about. I'm glad you mentioned it. And I'm sure he would have been thrilled to know that he played a role in one of your formative theatre experiences.

At 28 May, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Even though Memorial Day is the time to pay tribute to our fallen veterans, I guess it's apropos for me to do so to veterans of the stage.

At 04 June, 2007, Anonymous Gene in Minneapolis said...

I don't know if anyone will read this a week or so after the article but in this week's edition of Time Magazine's Milstones Reilly is credited with directing Julie Christie in "The Gin Game."
I sent a letter right off to the editor noting this error.
He directed Julie Harris.

At 04 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Great catch, Gene! While both great actresses, Julie Harris and Julie Christie should never be confused.

Both Julie Harris and Charles Nelson Reilly received Tony nominations for their work on The Gin Game (Harris starred opposite Charles Durning in the 1997 revival).


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