Charles Nelson Reilley
1931 – 2007
Along with veteran hag Brett Somers and Richard Dawson, Reilly ruled the C-list celeb roost of Match Game throughout the 70s, spitting out zingers and sexual innuendo as fast as you can say “whoopie.” The show basically amounted to a bunch of boob and poop jokes, but in its most sublime moments would descend into a bunch of friends goading each other into breathless laugh fits on camera. He complained to The Advocate in 2001, “You can’t do anything else once you do game shows. You have no career.” We suspect Jm J. Bullock and Paul Lynde would agree.
The Evidence Mom Ignored:
Occupations: theater actor and director; children’s television host; resident flambuoyant game show panel quipper: 9 out of 10 gay points (we’ll reserve a 10 score for cabaret singers, and florists)
Appearance: oversized glasses like best lady friend Brett; pink sweaters; the occasional pipe and jaunty scarf; also, ascots (for god’s sake!) 8/10
Demeanor: slight lisp; nasal, fey delivery; could sling a zing with the best of them. Okay, maybe they did know. 10/10
Beards: none, though his best friend was a lady; eventually came out publicly and he was survived by longtime companion Patrick Hughes, who was a set dresser in Hollywood. 6/10
Minstrelsy: Liked to affect a deeper voice and then make reference to how butch he sounded; gay jokes lobbed at his expense often accepted with buffoonish laff; and he wore ascots (for god’s sake!) 8/10
Total: 41 points – Steady Blaze (see scale)
It’s kind of hard to imagine that anyone ever bought into the notion that CNR was anything but a tulip-cruising invert, but you know, they drank a lot back then.
Now, please accept our gift of the following clips of Chuck in his prime.
1. In which Chuck doubts gal pal Brett Somers 90210 provenance.
2. In which host Gene Rayburn gives up his duties to Charles and coaches him through hosting duties.
Then, there is this classic sketch from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Charles Nelson Reilly, Tony-winning comic actor, dies at 76 (New York Times)
Charles Nelson Reilly (Wikipedia)
The Match Game Website on Youtube
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