This has been a bad week for film and television lovers. We’ve lost a few of the greats, including Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. Williams threw us all for a horrible loop, and in some ways, softened the blow of the loss of Bacall, who lived to the age of 89 and, by all accounts, had a full and wonderful life. Character actor Ed Nelson also passed away this week at the age of 85, and like both Williams and Bacall, he enjoyed a long and fruitful career. He’s probably most known for playing Dr. Michael Rossi on the night time soap Peyton Place, but to me he'll always be that guy. You know the one, that actor who shows up in everything. That actor who makes whatever show or TV movie he is appearing in that much better because he’s in it. For most of my life, Nelson was just that guy. And I loved him for it.
But, he was more than simply a handsome, silver haired character actor, and I wanted to commemorate his life by throwing out some interesting facts about a man who deserves to be celebrated.
|Nelson mulls over the issues in the 1974 TVM Houston, We've Got a Problem|
While filming Peyton Place in 1966, Nelson felt he might be suffering from fatigue and had himself checked out by a doctor. They found a small tumor on his lung – one that had been overlooked by another physician three years prior. It was recommended that Nelson have surgery immediately, but he put off the procedure for three weeks so the Peyton Place filmmakers could figure out how to work around his absence! What a trooper. The I’m-not-a-doctor-but-I-play-one-on-TV actor missed five weeks of work.
|Christopher and Ed Nelson pose with Dorothy Malone in this newspaper promo for Murder in Peyton Place|
Ed was married to his wife Patsy for 63 years! He knew that marriage required a lot of hard work and in a 1964 interview the actor said, “My wife and I talked a bit about the future after I made the Peyton Place pilot, and the things that could happen to me if the show is a success. But we refuse to believe that success could destroy our happiness. Carelessness or indifference destroys happiness, and neither of us plans to be careless or indifferent.”
Nelson had his own talk show in 1969! Simply titled The Ed Nelson Show, one of his most (in)famous guests was Nathan Leopold, who along with his confidante Richard Loeb, killed a young man in an attempt to commit the perfect crime. Their story inspired the Hitchcock thriller Rope, and on Nelson's show Leopold spoke candidly about his time in prison.
Ed appeared alongside Suzanne Pleshette in three different projects: The TV Movies Along Came a Spider (1970) and Help Wanted: Male (1982), as well as an episode of the series Channing titled The Potato Bash World (1963).
According to Wikipedia, in 1999 Nelson returned to Tulane University to finish his undergrad degree, and graduated at the age of 71. (This is my favorite piece of trivia!)
|Nelson goes medical again in the 1979 TVM Doctors' Private Lives|
Nelson was a Roger Corman regular in the 1950s and was the monster in Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters!
|William Conrad has some questions for Ed Nelson in the 1980 TVM The Return of Frank Cannon|
Rest in peace, Mr. Nelson. You are loved and already missed.