Charles Nelson Reilly , American actor born Jan. Charles Nelson Reilly. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Originally published in the Britannica Book of the Year.
Charles Nelson Reilly
Charles Nelson Reilly II January 13, — May 25, was an American actor, comedian, director, and drama teacher known for his comedic roles on stage and in films, television shows, and cartoons. At age thirteen, he survived the Hartford circus fire  which killed people in Connecticut, and he never sat in an audience again throughout the remainder of his life. Because of the event's trauma, he rarely attended theater, stating that the large crowds reminded him of what happened that day. Reilly developed a love of opera and wanted to become an opera singer. He entered the Hartt School of Music as a voice major, but eventually abandoned this pursuit when he realized that he lacked the natural vocal talent to have a major career. However, opera remained a lifelong passion, and he was a frequent guest on opera-themed radio programs, including the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. Reilly made his film debut with an uncredited role in A Face in the Crowd , directed by Elia Kazan , although most of his early career was spent on the stage. He was a regular and popular performer in comic roles for several summer seasons in the s at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. Reilly appeared in many Off Broadway productions. His big break came in with the enormously successful original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Contribute to This Page
As a child he amused himself with improvised puppet theater performances. He had a traumatic experience in , when present for the Hartford circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut. A fire during a performance of the Ringling Bros. While Reilly was one of the survivors, he was left with a life-long fear of fires. He never attended public performances of theater and circus again, as an audience member, for fear of another fire. Reilly wanted to enter show business as a youth, and in particular to become an opera singer. He took lessons at the University of Hartford Hartt School, but eventually realized that his voice skills were inadequate. He turned to theater next, and debuted in film with a bit role in "A Face in the Crowd" During the late s, Reilly appeared regularly in comic roles in theatrical performances Off Broadway. In , Reilly first gained critical attention, for a small but noteworthy part in Broadway musical "Bye Bye Birdie".
Check out our breakdown of the movies and shows we're excited about this month, including " Lovecraft Country. See our picks list. Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist. Sign In. Down this week. As a child he amused himself with improvised puppet theater performances. He had a traumatic experience in , when present for the Hartford circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut Filmography by Job Trailers and Videos. Share this page:.