We lost Tom Posten recently ( the Adam Sandler movie CLICK is really a thinly disguised re-make of William Castles’ 1962 ZOTZ! which starred Posten) and now another comedic staple of 60’s television has passed away. Charles Nelson Reilly, who along with Paul Lynne embodied the spirit of TV Funny Fags, a breed that seems to have disappeared with the advent of Political Correctness.
Mr. Reilly in all likelihood won’t be remembered for his acting prowess, although he was an adequate actor, but probably for his MATCHGAME and HOLLYWOOD SQUARES appearances, which he blamed for killing his career. Too bad. He was a uh…colorful character actor to say the least.
Butch Patrick, best known as Eddie Munster acted with Mr. Reilly on LIDSVILLE. I met him once at a ComicCon here in Fort Worth in the early 90’s. I asked him what working with Charles Nelson Reilly was like; he didn’t answer my question and quickly changed the subject. He said in a recent phone interview on www.retrocrush.com however that Mr. Reilly would hug him and try to kiss him and would tell everyone within earshot: “I just love you and I don’t care who knows it!”
Mr Reilly was a regular on the DEAN MARTIN show as well as THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR. But the temptation of easy money on game shows typecast him forever as an only slightly flamboyant game show contestant, and actual acting jobs became fewer and fewer. He had an amusing two-line cameo on one episode of THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW in the late 90’s and that was about the last time I can remember seeing him on TV.
A quick search on www.IMDB.com reveals that he did voice-overs for SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS as well as some Disney cartoons. The kind of work that actors and actresses they don’t really want onscreen (like Eddie Deezen) wind up doing to pay the bills. Pity.
His Hoodoo the Magician was the only real reason to watch LIDSVILLE, and I remember a Saturday morning series he did in the late 60’s or early 70’s called UNCLE CROCS BLOCK ( his character was a kid-show host who hated his job) that was actually pretty funny. I wrote a blog on this site over a year ago called TO HELL WITH HOLLYWOOD (LINK HERE: https://file23magazine.wordpress.com/2006/08/13/to-hell-with-hollywood-by-brian-roper/#more-106 ) and the shabby treatment veteran character actors like Mr. Reilly get from the entertainment industry is only a very small part of what fueled that one. The old saying about not knowing what you have until it’s gone applies well here.So farewell and rest in peace Mr. Reilly; you were a better comedian than what passes for them today.BR