Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Barry Nelson

I don't believe that Barry Nelson (1917 - 2007) was ever much more than a Bit Actor, at least on film.  He was a well respected actor on Broadway and television, and no one would deny that he had great talent.

He has 86 titles listed on IMDb.  His first film was Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) starring William Powell (1892 - 1984) and Myrna Loy (1905 - 1993), and you know how much I like the Thin Man series.  He has a starring role the next year in A Yank on the Burma Road

Also in 1942 we find him working with Lew Ayres (1908 - 1996) and Lionel Barrymore in Dr. Kildare's Victory, and then with Abbott and Costello in Rio Rita.  The war years brought some war movies.  Bataan and A Guy Named Joe in 1943, and Winged Victory in 1944.  Winged Victory has a great cast and is something I will look for.

Barry starts early on television in 1948.  He is in several teleplays on "The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre" and "The Ford Theatre Hour."  Do you think spelling it 'Theatre' adds some class to the small screen?  I believe those years were the start of the best part of Nelson's career. 

In 1954 he is cast as the first James Bond to hit the screen.  "Climax!" aired an hour long version of Casino Royale, written by Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964) just two years earlier.  That role has enshrined Barry Nelson in the trivia question world.

The 1950s and 1960s see him in all sorts of television roles, including "Zane Grey Theater," "The United States Steel Hour," "Twilight Zone," "Kraft Suspense Theatre," several with Alfred Hitchcock, and of course "Love, American Style."

In 1970 he is an airline pilot in the blockbuster disaster movie, Airport, with Dean Martin (1917 - 1995) and Burt Lancaster (1913 - 1994).  And in 1974 he works with Carol Burnett (b. 1933) and Walter Matthau (1920 - 2000) in Pete 'n' Tillie

In the 1970s to 1990 he is in everything on TV (again), from "Greatest Heroes of the Bible" to "Battlestar Galactica."  He would be right at home doing roles on "Dallas," "Magnum, P.I.," and "Murder, She Wrote."

Barry's last film was The Shining in 1980.  Anyone who can hold their own with Jack Nicholson is OK with me, and worthy to be mentioned as a great Bit Actor.

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