The Who2 Blog

Charles Nelson Reilly Isn’t Quite 80

Charles Nelson Reilly would have turned 80 today, had he not died in a few years back, alas.  He was born on this day in 1931.

Charles Nelson Reilly is famous for his nutty game show work on The Match Game, but not everyone knows that he was also a Tony-winning actor (in 1962, for How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and a Tony-nominated director (in 1997, for The Gin Game).

Here’s a clip of Reilly rambling away to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, back in the days when lapels were broad, ties were mod, and talk shows were really talk shows.

The Neil Simon play referred to was probably God’s Favorite, which ran for 116 performances on Broadway in 1974-75.  That, plus the crack about Ed McMahon staying up for the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon, would peg this episode as being early September 1974.

Reilly’s “ribald appearances on The Tonight Show” were popular enough that the Associated Press led its obituary with them 2007.  The AP says he was a guest on the show more than 95 times.  

Here he is two years later playing the outlandish character of Charles Nelson Reilly (and sparring with Brett Somers) on the game show The Match Game:

1976:  His idea of a Bicentennial outfit, no doubt.

“Good night from Hollywood” and happy 80th birthday, Mr. Reilly, wherever you are.

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