Charles Nelson Reilly
While many TV viewers will recall Charles Nelson Reilly and his zany humor from numerous appearances as a panelist on game-shows. most particularly "The Match Game." more than a few may not be aware of his distinguished stage career as both actor and director. The Bronx-born, Connecticut-raised performer got his start in summer theater in 1950. Honing his craft in numerous productions and under the tutelage of Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen, Reilly was more than prepared when he made his NYC in a 1956 revival of the musical "Best Foot Forward." In 1960, he was featured in the Jerry Herman revue "Parade" and later went on to understudy both Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde in the hit musical "Bye Bye Birdie." The following year, Reilly had his breakthrough musical role, earning a Tony Award as Bud Frump, the insidious nephew of a corporate head (Rudy Vallee) in the Pulitzer-winning "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Now an established Broadway player, he was cast as the ambitious office clerk Cornelius Hackl in the Jerry Herman musical "Hello, Dolly!" (1964), for which he picked up a Tony nomination. While Reilly has been vocal about the problems of the production (particularly with director Gower Champion and star Carol Channing), he did have the benefit of playing opposite Eileen Brennan with whom he performed a cabaret act. After the quick closing of the ill-fated musical "Skyscraper" (which introduced him to star Julie Harris), Reilly more or less abandoned the stage for the small screen.