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"When I die, it's going to read, 'Game Show Fixture Passes Away'"
May 27, 2007 10:28 PM   Subscribe

Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007) If, in 1940, you had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and were the only gay kid on the block, what do you think the odds would be that you'd end up a Tony winner, a staple of television, and a generational icon? (contains YouTube links)
posted by LinusMines (90 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
3:2?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:31 PM on May 27, 2007


I loved him.
posted by vronsky at 10:31 PM on May 27, 2007


O REILLY?
posted by fandango_matt at 10:32 PM on May 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:33 PM on May 27, 2007


Just Charles Nelson Reilly, nailed to a cross.

*shakes his head, in disbelief*
posted by adipocere at 10:34 PM on May 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


(still waiting on hilltop with 15 girls)
posted by Afroblanco at 10:36 PM on May 27, 2007


*sniff*
posted by dejah420 at 10:44 PM on May 27, 2007


Go!
posted by item at 10:47 PM on May 27, 2007


.
posted by ericb at 10:47 PM on May 27, 2007


So, could he heal the sick with a touch of his hand?

*waves to adipocere*
posted by lekvar at 10:47 PM on May 27, 2007


Yeah, Reilly.

Goodbye, Jose Chung, Horatio J. Hoodoo, Claymore Gregg.

"He always had the funniest [blank]".
posted by wendell at 10:51 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The very first time he went to the circus, it was unfortunately on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut. Many years later, Reilly said that despite of his love of the theater, he could never sit in an audience again because of that fire.

RIP CNR.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:54 PM on May 27, 2007


Always enjoyed his work. RIP
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:56 PM on May 27, 2007


Truly, he don't piss, he don't shit, he's gettin' NO relief.

/me shakes my head in disbelief
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2007


.
posted by herichon at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2007


.
posted by rainbaby at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2007


He was actually an amazing guy. I saw his one man show & it was really wonderful. They turned it into a great film.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:16 PM on May 27, 2007



posted by pruner at 11:20 PM on May 27, 2007


Wasn't there a band called the Charles Nelson Reillys? Or am I dreaming this?
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:23 PM on May 27, 2007


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posted by Mijo Bijo at 11:24 PM on May 27, 2007


He was all over 1970's saturday mornings...some really funky stuff

.
posted by UseyurBrain at 11:25 PM on May 27, 2007


. _______
posted by dw at 11:26 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everyone dig out your copies of Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:31 PM on May 27, 2007


Oh no. OH NO. Goddamned DOT.
posted by LeeJay at 11:31 PM on May 27, 2007


Oh I loved him on Match Game... Here's a list of YouTube clips of Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game.
posted by amyms at 11:32 PM on May 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


... --- ...
posted by batmonkey at 11:33 PM on May 27, 2007


Funny guy. He was the most consistently funny Match Game panelist.

Another part of my childhood is ________.
posted by The Deej at 11:35 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously. I just...I don't trust people who don't like Charles Nelson Reilley. It's like people who tell me they don't like pets. Let's just put aside his brilliance on the stage. I mean, did you even WATCH Match Game?
posted by LeeJay at 11:37 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Match Game was the shizit. Brett, Betty, Richard, Gene, Charles, and sometimes Fanny.
posted by rainbaby at 11:40 PM on May 27, 2007


I know how crazy this is gonna sound, but... I was just watching the X-file Jose Chung's From Outerspace the other day.
posted by vagabond at 11:51 PM on May 27, 2007


Miss Lynnster, thanks for that link to The Life of Reilly. He was a helluva voiceover guy, and I loved him on Match Game, too. *sniff*
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posted by maryh at 12:04 AM on May 28, 2007


I'm now fascinated with the Hartford circus fire: "a bucket brigade consisting of the wardrobe mistress, a whiteface clown, and some midgets ... kept the women's dressing tent from from going up in flames."

And "thousands of panic-stricken people began a desperate stampede to escape the flames that flowed like a breeze across the tent top, a square mile of canvas that had been waterproofed with a pasty mixture of 1800 pounds of paraffin wax and 6000 gallons of gasoline. "

I bet Reilly wasn't the only survivor never to sit in an audience again.
posted by pracowity at 12:10 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by cows of industry at 12:11 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by mdeatherage at 1:27 AM on May 28, 2007


I can't seem to find a link to buy/watch/download/whatever the film "life of reilly"

It's as if it was shown live a few times and tehn destroyed.. :(
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:38 AM on May 28, 2007


NOOOOO! NOT COACH! TAKE ME INSTEAD!

Oh. Sorry. I was thinking Craig T. Nelson.

My bad.
posted by sourwookie at 2:01 AM on May 28, 2007


It's already been mentioned, but bears repeating: "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" is one of the best hours of network television ever made.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:20 AM on May 28, 2007


If there's any justice in the world, Tom Kenny should be cast as the lead in a remake of Uncle Croc's Block.


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posted by Smart Dalek at 2:48 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 AM on May 28, 2007


Jose Chung in Millennium, that Scientology spoof episode... now that was special.
posted by gsb at 4:19 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


CNR was one of my favorite figures growing up. Basically, as a kid, I had no idea about his sexuality. I just knew funny. The man was funny.

I later got to watch a production he directed - a remount of Larry Shue's 'The Nerd' with Mark Hamill in the lead. One of the best directed shows I ever had the pleasure to attend.

RIP, sir.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:30 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by moonbird at 4:34 AM on May 28, 2007


Here's an SNL clip of Alec Baldwin doing a spot-on Charles Nelson Reilly impression.
posted by Optamystic at 4:35 AM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I know I'm viewing things through a veil of nostalgia, but television was better in the old days and the funny people were funnier. And CNR was one of funniest.
posted by tommasz at 4:46 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by about_time at 5:15 AM on May 28, 2007


I, hmm. I know, hmm, knew and, hmm. He was a component of my alternate universe at a significant period in my first decade. The connection to Krofft led me to HR Pufnstuf, which was an unshared mental torture... This should be part of an anonymous ASK post.

I can say that he both disturbed and attracted me through his obvious deviation from the promoted norms of the age (how odd that homosexuals were adored yet vilified during his life!?).

Good on him and a big MF DOT
posted by michswiss at 5:18 AM on May 28, 2007


RIP, Hoodoo.
posted by davidmsc at 5:23 AM on May 28, 2007


Charles Nelson Reilly, you will be blanked.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:26 AM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Fark post made me laugh: "Dumb Dora Was SO DUMB that when she heard Charles Nelson Reilly had died, instead of praying that he would Rest In Peace she prayed that he would Rest In (blank)"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:40 AM on May 28, 2007


Wow, just saw Life of Reilly last week. What a life.

.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:08 AM on May 28, 2007


Don't forget his tenure as the Dirty Bubble on SpongeBob.

I am quite bummed. Like many other people here, Match Game was a staple of my childhood.
posted by Lucinda at 6:15 AM on May 28, 2007


_________
posted by briank at 6:37 AM on May 28, 2007


.

NYT obit: ... Mr. Reilly’s openly gay persona was many years ahead of its time on television, and it had its risks. He recalled being dismissed early in his career by a network executive, who told him that “they don’t let queers on television.” ...
posted by amberglow at 6:45 AM on May 28, 2007


out of all that crop of campy people on tv, he was out the whole time (Paul Lynde wasn't, John Inman wasn't, Jim Nabors most certainly wasn't, ...)
posted by amberglow at 6:47 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:49 AM on May 28, 2007


to add to adipocere's thought:

Just me on a hilltop with 15 girls and a Nelson Reilly orgy that'll make your head swirl.
posted by absalom at 6:49 AM on May 28, 2007


.

:(
posted by sugarfish at 6:51 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by bink at 7:09 AM on May 28, 2007


Highlights of Jose Chung.

I personally feel that people in general used to be a lot funnier. My opinion is that prior to tv, people had to communicate and entertain eachother. People were expected to learn how to play the piano, or sing, or learn some magic, or be smart, or be funny... it was a big deal. There was social pressure, you were supposed to find your own little niche so you could be socially successful. Your skills were something you worked hard for, you aimed for. Especially during the depression and the previous wars, my impression is that a lot of people really used their senses of humor and entertainment to get eachother through hard times. When I'm singing jazz, I can really feel that in the songs.

In contrast, now people can sit together and nobody has to say anything. It's not expected or necessary. The focus isn't necessarily on eachother, it's often on a third thing.

There are a lot of things in the past that I'm glad I don't have to deal with (especially as a woman), but I do kind of mourn those qualities in people. While on one hand people are more open and free now, I think humanity seems sadder, lonelier, and perhaps even lessened in other ways. People don't seem to really reach to make eachother laugh or have talents like they used to. I find that a lot of people just AREN'T FUNNY. It's like it doesn't even matter now. Frankly, that seriously bums me out sometimes, and I think that is part of why CNR will be really missed. The man was a natural character and a talent in the oldest and most wonderful sense. And that meant something.

YMMV, as usual.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:10 AM on May 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


It may not have been his first choice on how he would be remembered, but I loved Match Game. It wasn't a game show so much as a group of friends being witty together, and some other folks got to win money occasionally.

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posted by booksherpa at 7:17 AM on May 28, 2007


By the way, as a kid I used to think something was wrong with me because I planned my entire day around watching Match Game after school. It was my secret, I didn't want anyone to know because I just knew they wouldn't understand. When I later read that the entire cast of the show was totally drunk for most of the tapings, it made sense. It always felt like I was watching a fun grown up party that I wasn't supposed to be awake for.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I thought Richard Dawson would be next to go from Match Game.

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posted by evilcolonel at 7:50 AM on May 28, 2007


“The thing that's funny is that everyone thinks I'm dead.” - Charles Nelson Reilly, August 10, 2001

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posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 AM on May 28, 2007


.

I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to watch him do a one-man show. He once read the roster from his first acting class, and he was actually one of the least famous people on the list (Shelley Berman, Hal Holbrook, and Shelley Winters were on it, IIRC). He also said he worked as a "chorus boy" for Mae West at one time. Of course, one of his most hilarious quips from the show was about all his supporting roles on TV:

"I used to wonder who I had to fuck to get on television, but now I wonder who I have to fuck to get off."
posted by jonp72 at 8:20 AM on May 28, 2007


Another bizarre thing I remember is that somebody once wrote an unproduced screenplay called "Charles Nelson Reilly Must Die." The premise of the film was that the protagonist was a screenwriter who writes biopics based on odd figures from pop culture (a la The People vs. Larry Flynt or Ed Wood). He writes a screenplay for a biopic about Charles Nelson Reilly, but he forgot that Charles Nelson Reilly was still alive! So in order to get his screenplay sold, he must ensure that Charles Nelson Reilly Must Die! I guess they can't do that screenplay any more. :( It would still be an interesting movie in the vein of "Being John Malkovich" if they did it with another celebrity.

On the other hand, Charles Nelson Reilly was one of the quintessential pop culture figures that would get that quizzical "You mean he's still alive?" response from people.

.
posted by jonp72 at 8:29 AM on May 28, 2007


I linked to his show above, but here's the acting class scene. And more on tv, his first leading role, and his memories of the circus fire.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:34 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by davelog at 8:48 AM on May 28, 2007


Lidsville opening theme : >
posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on May 28, 2007


Y'know I TOTALLY remember that opening and that it scared me. But how did I NOT remember that Lidsville starred Eddie Munster? Why did I not know that?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:00 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by mmahaffie at 9:04 AM on May 28, 2007


Anyone who ever questioned his acting ability, and dismissed him as a 'personality,' needed only to see him in the scenes with Gillian Anderson on Jose Chung's From Outer Space. There's a moment between him and Gillian where he's sitting behind the desk talking to her about his fascination with the subject matter. In that moment he's not performing or acting or hamming it up for the camera - it feels like a very real improvised conversation between two intelligent minds. Objectively one knows it's all on a script, but there's a chemistry between the two of them that's so palpable, it's like they're really just casually talking. Rare and precious to see acting that subtle and seemingly effortless by such a consummate ham. I've never seen Ian McKellen or Peter O'Toole pull off such sincerity.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:08 AM on May 28, 2007


Just found this from 2002.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:10 AM on May 28, 2007


.

not funny, God.

Growing up in the 70s, I loved the guy on Match Game and his Bic Banana Pen commercials.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:22 AM on May 28, 2007


"I can't look at those old toupees. I get so upset" : >
posted by amberglow at 10:06 AM on May 28, 2007


Pink Stëël opens their song "We Fight for Cock" [NSFW ... no doubt!] with the spoken in faux-German preamble "This is the song Charles Nelson Reilly schtol from the Beatles ... and we're going to schteal it back!!" Priceless.
posted by kuppajava at 10:38 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by mds35 at 10:49 AM on May 28, 2007


He almost made Hollywood Squares watch-able.
posted by mds35 at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2007


Speaking of Hollywood Squares, this earlier comment may be even more relevant.
posted by The Deej at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2007


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posted by jtron at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2007


miss lynnster: It always felt like I was watching a fun grown up party that I wasn't supposed to be awake for.

That's it. You've nailed it.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:15 PM on May 28, 2007


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posted by killy willy at 12:43 PM on May 28, 2007


Charles Nelson Reilly was Cool.

RIP CNR.
posted by oncogenesis at 1:40 PM on May 28, 2007


Phil Hartman died 9 years ago today.

Just saying.
posted by Koko at 1:46 PM on May 28, 2007


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posted by brandz at 3:47 PM on May 28, 2007


Those morning shows scared the crap out of me too. I still loved the guy though.
posted by snsranch at 5:00 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Extra factoid about X-Files episode: Its title includes another title, viz “José Chung’s From Outer Space.” Great for parties with copy-editors or anyone with an interest in the military-industrial-entertainment complex.
posted by joeclark at 8:09 PM on May 28, 2007


Charles, Nelson and Reilly. Godspeed to you all.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:07 PM on May 28, 2007


Match Game Reunion.
posted by ericb at 9:14 AM on May 29, 2007


Oops - just saw that miss lynnster linked to the same reunion video.
posted by ericb at 9:17 AM on May 29, 2007


⦿



(as in B ⦿ ⦿ B S)
posted by mazola at 9:35 AM on May 29, 2007


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