Ain't It Cool News (

Rest In Peace
Charles Nelson Reilly

Hey guys. Quint here. I must admit, I have an addiction. A bad one. I was first hooked when they began selling it to kids in the '80s. It started off small and harmless, but Nickelodeon acted as a gateway drug. I started with Double Dare and Nick Arcade and Finders Keepers. That led me to The Price Is Right, Supermarket Sweep, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Password, $25,000 Pyramid and Wheel of Fortune. In my teenage years I broke my addiction, but then a new pusher came into town offering unsurpassed quantities of my drug of choice. Game Show Network. That's where I met Charles Nelson Reilly.

For the last five years or so, I've been watching the seemingly endless episodes of Match Game, which featured him on most episodes. The game, if you don't know it, had two people competing for cash prizes. They were given a sentence like Mad Libs, where you had to fill in a blank. They guessed a word to put in there and the object was to guess the word that the celebrity panel would pick. There were 6 people on this panel and Charles Nelson Reilly was almost always one of them, sitting in the top right. He always stood out to me. Not for his huge glasses or his flashy clothes. That was all surface stuff. What really made me notice him was his sense of humor. He loved pushing the envelope and loved testing the limits of 70s daytime TV. His sexual innuendos and barbed play fights with Brett Somers always made me laugh. I also caught him on Hollywood Squares quite a lot and his attitude was the same. Have fun and throw everything else out the window. This is how I knew Charles Nelson Reilly, but it's by no means the extent of his life. He's also a Tony award winning actor and he also directed for the stage quite a bit. He was one of the first openly gay men in TV and his persistence paved the way for acceptance. He was HooDoo on Lidsville, he made an uncredited appearance in Elia Kazan's A FACE IN THE CROWD and he appeared all over television, from Laugh-In to The Larry Sanders Show to The Love Boat to The Drew Carrey Show to The X-Files. In movies, he added his voice to ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and appeared in CANNONBALL RUN II. He died last Friday, at the age of 76, due to complications from pneumonia. You will be missed, sir. My thoughts are with Mr. Reilly's friends, family and fans.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 28, 2007, 5:52 p.m. CST


    by The_Countess

    R.I.P. Good sir :( Loved you in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

  • May 28, 2007, 5:58 p.m. CST

    So gay he went all the way around to straight again.

    by Ommadawn1959

    i enjoyed him greatly as a teenager of the 70s, and as Jose Chung in both X-Files and Millenium.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:07 p.m. CST


    by OtisSpofford

    Let's not forget the series "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" where CNR played the hapless, greedy and cowardly Claymore Gregg, nephew of the eponymous ghost... He was part of that group that included Jonathan Harris and Paul Lynde as gay men who were funny without being debased - they all gave us a lot of laughs. Rest in peace, Charles.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:08 p.m. CST

    I remember watching him as a kid

    by CherryValance

    He was great on Match Game. So funny and an original to be sure. He'll be missed.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:13 p.m. CST

    Flame On, Charley!

    by Dataset

    Just me on a hilltop with 15 girls, In a Nelson Reilly orgy that'll make your hair curl.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:16 p.m. CST

    "The Life of Reilly": His last film

    by gamerawangi

    "The Life of Reilly", made last year, is mostly a film of his one man show of the same title. I was lucky enough to see it in 2001 (the live show, that is). As out there as Mr. Reilly was, after hearing about his life growing up, it's a wonder he had any scraps of sanity by the time he was an adult. His aunt, who suffered mental problems, was one of the first to receive the "miraculous" new cure-all. It turned out to be what we know call a lobotomy. His father had to be institutionalized for depression, which back then meant he was heavily sedated, 24/7. And his mother was an outspoken bigot (and fond of shouting her opinions out the front window). And yet, in his stage show, he still made us all laugh. The movie is still playing the festival circuits. I highly recommend checking it out. It's funny, tragic, fascinating, and in the end, inspiring. You don't have to be queer to be moved by this one-man show; it speaks to everyone who's had to overcome insurmountable problems to find true happiness with simply living. I can only hope it makes it to DVD soon. R.I.P. "Jose Chung" (my favorite Reilly performance).

  • May 28, 2007, 6:16 p.m. CST

    The contestant should've gotten a point for "pillows."

    by themikejonas

    RIP, CNR.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Jose Chung

    by flossygomez

    Such a part of my background landscape growing up. To my great delight, reappearing to amazing effect thanks to Chris Carter in X-Files and Millenium. In my mind I put him in the same part of my brain where Paul Lynde lives on forever as Uncle Arthur.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Well crap.. that sucks..

    by LargoJr

    I like him just as much as I enjoyed Paul Lynde. Both were funny, and definitely pushed the edge on just about everything .. miss em both

  • May 28, 2007, 6:29 p.m. CST

    "How's *that* for a topper? Hyun-hyun-hyun!"

    by GiggityGoo

    I saw this news on a crawl this morning, and it completely bummed me out. I *loved* Reilly as a kid, from Match Game to Lidsville. He's one of my all-time favorite "silly" actors. Rest in peace, Charles.<p>And thanks to Quint for creating a TalkBack for this sad passing. I hope there are lots and lots of wonderful words of praise posted.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Lidsville Was The Koo-koo-kookiest

    by Jinxo

    Match Game was the bomb. He had one of the best laughs ever. And Jose Chung was an amazing role. The Millenium episode with Jose was priceless. "Don't be dark!"

  • May 28, 2007, 6:44 p.m. CST

    "Dead Milkmen Serrated Edge lyrics"

    by ShogunMaster

    Up on the hilltop where the vultures perch, That's where I'm gonna build my church, Ain't gonna be no priest, ain't gonna be no boss; Just Charles Nelson Reilly nailed to a cross. <p> I don't piss, I don't shit, I'm gettin' no relief, People shake their heads in disbelief. GO! <p> Just me on a hilltop with 15 girls, In a Nelson Reilly orgy that'll make your hair curl. I don't piss, I don't shit, I'm gettin' no relief, People shake their heads in disbelief. <p> Yeah, Charles Nelson Reilly, he's our man, He can't heal the sick with the touch of his hand, He can't walk on water, can't make wine flow; Just another greedy actor on the late late show! <p> I don't piss, I don't shit, I'm gettin' no relief, People shake their heads in disbelief. GO! <p> Just me on a hilltop with 15 girls, In a Nelson Reilly orgy that'll make your hair curl. I don't piss, I don't shit, I'm gettin' no relief, People shake their heads in disbelief. <p> <p> That's How I remember the man. RIP

  • May 28, 2007, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Alec Baldwin's impression on SNL was so great

    by BadMrWonka

    here's the video:<p> <p> RIP Charles.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:58 p.m. CST

    and jfp2006?

    by BadMrWonka

    fake bigotry to get attention = no pubes yet at age 15.<p>I know that's rough, brother, and you want to be able to shower comfortably in the gym at your high school, but don't bring your bullshit here, OK?<p>this is an Obit page for fans of Reilly, not a page for you to get the attention you're desperate for. so fuck off and be an ass somewhere else.

  • May 28, 2007, 6:59 p.m. CST

    MATCH GAME was awesome in the day

    by Sir Loin

    Used to watch it after school in the mid-70's, but naturally I didn't get 95% of the innuendo...Wonka's right, Baldwin's impression of Reilly was spot-on.

  • May 28, 2007, 7:01 p.m. CST


    by tristeele

    Nice hate mongering, shithead rant. Your the asshole who should be sucking off Satan.

  • May 28, 2007, 7:01 p.m. CST

    That episode of Millennium was da bomb!!!

    by KnightShift

    "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" is among my top ten best TV episodes *ever*. So much classic about that one. My favorite line was when Terry O'Quinn said that "Evil incarnate can't sue."

  • May 28, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    via this Obit ive learnt something...

    by Obscura

    ...every single gameshow that the whole of britain thinks is entirly british is actually american. I dont watch them, but i like knowing you've moved on from these, while we're still watching remakes of them... gives me hope theres still some sanity left in TV. So, after all that Rest in peace Charles Nelson Reilly, ill always respect you even though i never knew of you till now.

  • May 28, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Don't forget about Lidsville.

    by mrfan

    Seeing him in all that makeup flying around with that laugh is something ya just don't forget.<p>RIP Mr. Reilly

  • May 28, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Hey Quint, did he ever have a slap fight?

    by leeVSbenway


  • May 28, 2007, 7:23 p.m. CST

    I'll be checking out "Life of..."

    by Mister Man

    Grew up with his antics on "Match Game" and "Lidsville" - nice turn on "X Files."

  • May 28, 2007, 7:30 p.m. CST


    by Bibo

    I always did. Bummed he's gone. I'm glad to hear about Life of Reilly and will check it out right away. Thanks for the TB 4 CNR

  • May 28, 2007, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Best Millennium Line

    by Jinxo

    I liked when Frank's friend the cop is told he's too negative and responds, "Oh no I'm not neither."

  • May 28, 2007, 8:04 p.m. CST


    by RenoNevada2000

    Thanks for the laughs. As long as their is YouTube and its ilk, you will be immortal.

  • May 28, 2007, 8:07 p.m. CST


    by KarmicRelief

    Rest in blank....

  • May 28, 2007, 8:12 p.m. CST

    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir TV Series

    by glodene

    is where his genius really shined. RIP CHARLIE.

  • May 28, 2007, 8:17 p.m. CST

    One of the greats on stage

    by Larry of Arabia

    god bless

  • May 28, 2007, 8:20 p.m. CST

    I recognize all the guys

    by Jor-El23

    but i don't know any of the female "celebrities"

  • May 28, 2007, 8:30 p.m. CST


    by RokurGepta

    someone help out and ban gabriel gray... <p>

  • May 28, 2007, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Great call mrfan

    by slone13

    Most folk I talk to don't even know about Lidsville.

  • May 28, 2007, 8:40 p.m. CST

    He was a man's man...

    by Simpsonian

    no, really.

  • May 28, 2007, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Rest in peace Charles. You

    by bobster52

    Rest in peace Charles. You will live forever in reruns.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Rest In _____

    by chrth

    Damn, he was a good one. RIP you beautiful man.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:09 p.m. CST


    by Santien

    RIP Charles. Thanks for all those Match Game memories.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:10 p.m. CST

    THANK YOU Charles Nelson Reilly xoxo

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    The NYT obit this morning was a shock.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:13 p.m. CST


    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Everybody's creepy uncle!!

  • May 28, 2007, 9:16 p.m. CST

    CNR and Paul Lynde - together again

    by ArcadianDS

    Somewhere in a dark corner of TV Gameshow heaving, the two of them are making out.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:17 p.m. CST

    how to blow a joke in 1 easy lesson

    by ArcadianDS

    type 'heaving' instead of 'heaven'<p> I am truly sorry.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Don't worry Obscura...

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    We are recycling them right back re: Big brother, Survivor, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:26 p.m. CST

    "Life of Reilly" trailer

    by gamerawangi And if it's not what you're expecting, remember, "It's just that kind of show".... And to quote my favorite X-Files closing ine: "Because, in the end... We are are alone..."

  • May 28, 2007, 9:27 p.m. CST

    so sad

    by stvnhthr

    What a funny actor with an unfortunate life.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:43 p.m. CST


    by George Newman

    The answer was knockers! Why didn't any of them get it? 'Pillows' was the closest. That was the whole point of the Big Bad Wolf framing of the joke. Lame.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:45 p.m. CST

    These Bob Mackie gowns are FAB-u-lous!!!

    by Osmosis Jones


  • May 28, 2007, 9:49 p.m. CST

    That brings back memories

    by skitch

    I remember watching that when it originally aired...yeah...I didn't spend a lot of time in the sun...but those are shows you will never see again...celebrities now are too afraid to make asses out of themselves on game shows...they now do it each day in the press.

  • May 28, 2007, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Reily on "The Best Of Carson..."

    by Uncapie

    Just saw an old skit they did with Carson and Reily as vikings. Doc Severinson played Reily's sexually ambiguous son, "Thor." Hilarious stuff! A funny guy who gave us many laughs. R.I.P.

  • May 28, 2007, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Gave me one of the biggest laughs ever.....

    by Kenny8 a sitcom, being The Ghost & Mrs Muir, of all things! "Crazy cottage, fully wierd" You had to be there.. RIP

  • May 28, 2007, 10:07 p.m. CST

    CNR -- a superb comic's comic!

    by Boris Baddenov

    He will be greatly missed, but hopefully the Pearly Gates will forever enjoy his engaging laugh and inventive quips!

  • May 28, 2007, 10:52 p.m. CST

    He survived the Hartford Circus Fire

    by uglyMood

    In 1944 Charles Nelson Reilly survived one of the worst fire disasters in American history, when a circus big top went up in flames: He was 13 years old at the time, and never sat in an audience again as long as he lived.

  • May 28, 2007, 10:55 p.m. CST

    The actual Hartford Circus Fire URL

    by uglyMood

    A space got inserted into that URL somehow. Here's the real one:

  • May 28, 2007, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Hell, I give up.

    by uglyMood

    Remove the space in the URL to read the article. I have no idea why the talkback form is mangling it.

  • May 28, 2007, 11:19 p.m. CST

    I remember the Cannon Ball run days.

    by GQtaste

    It seemed he was apart of the Burt Reynolds crew. The one of many that were always cast in his pics during that time. But I too remember the gameshows he did.

  • May 28, 2007, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Did you hear that Tom Poston died?

    by Napoleon Park

    Not if you get your news here, in spite of a lot of talkbackers clamoring for a Poston obit. Tom Poston, 85, geeky everyman character actor, had a career dating back to the Steve Allen show in the '50s, and worked in film, TV, on stage, in game shows... he even worked as a circus acrobat in his youth. Very cool guy.<p> I'm not suggesting this site would have given him his props if he'd been gay as a festive Easter bonnet instead of boning sexy Suzanne Pleshette. Obviously some times it's a slow news day and the obituaries rise to the top of the stack, and some times they don't. Or maybe "undisclosed illness" made it seem like an unfinished story and they were waiting for an autopsy. Oh well. RIP Charles Nelson Reilly, RIP Tom Poston. Peace.

  • May 28, 2007, 11:51 p.m. CST

    The Simpsons comic book paid homage

    by Napoleon Park

    a few issues ago. Bully Nelson Muntz's identical but differently hair colored cousins visited Springfield. They were only identified by name in one panel. Nelson's cousins were named Charles and Reilly. <p> And it wasn't a posthumous tribute. they knew the guy was cool while he was still alive.

  • May 29, 2007, 12:01 a.m. CST

    I remember him from game shows but I actually only saw

    by Yeti

    him act in the X-files episode Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" which is my loss.

  • May 29, 2007, 12:05 a.m. CST

    Off to the Great Gay Bar in the Sky

    by DildoBaggins

    "Bartender, another Cosmopolitan - and keep those fuckers coming!"

  • May 29, 2007, 12:28 a.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    Mori did a Tom Poston obit, and a very nice one, at that:<p>

  • May 29, 2007, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Another one of those you will never see again.

    by GQtaste

    Like a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. Not to put Charles in their category, but you get the point. They just don't mak'em like that any more for whatever the reason is.

  • May 29, 2007, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Another one of those you will never see again.

    by GQtaste

    Like a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. Not to put Charles in their category, but you get the point. They just don't mak'em like that any more for whatever the reason is.

  • May 29, 2007, 1:31 a.m. CST

    Another one of those you will never see again.

    by GQtaste

    Like a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. Not to put Charles in their category, but you get the point. They just don't mak'em like that any more for whatever the reason is.

  • May 29, 2007, 2:28 a.m. CST

    My Bad, Mr. Wonka, and apologies, Mori.

    by Napoleon Park

    I remembered a LOY if people in several talk backs asking about a Tom Poston piece, and Moriarty mentions being asked for it for a day and a half and putting it off because, really who likes writing obituaries? I guess I blinked and missed it when it finally came up, but it was nicely done. <p> I vaguely remember the Steve Allen show, though I would have been in the mid-single digits age-wisw when it aired. Poston, Nye and knotts on those man in the street interviews were my favorite bits, as I recall. <p> and I remember "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". The usual 'something weird going on that I can't talk about' '60s sitcom formula as My Living Doll, My Favorite Martian, Mr. Ed, Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie, My Mother The Car, etc. But with a much more sophisticated romantic angle and an incubus-like sexual tension. A fine series, and one TV Land ought to resurrect again some time. <p> And while everyone is praising the daring for the time flambouyance of Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and Jonathon Harris, can we get some love for the original weird Al, Laugh-In's Alan Sues?

  • May 29, 2007, 2:29 a.m. CST

    He was a fairly prominent musical comedy star.

    by AnnoyYou

    Reilly originated the roles of Bud Frump in "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" and Cornelius in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway. But of course most people knew him as Jose Chung from "The X-Files" and "Millennium." I'll miss him; he was also in one of my favorite "Designing Women" episodes from the '80s. RIP, Mr. Reilly.

  • May 29, 2007, 2:48 a.m. CST

    His Jose Chung appearance was good, but...

    by Sledge Hammer was his Jose Chung appearance in Millennium that really shone the brightest, and his chemistry opposite Lance Henriksen was nothing short of televised magic. That's the performance I'll always remember him for most fondly, may he rest in peace.

  • May 29, 2007, 2:51 a.m. CST

    I meant his *X-Files* Jose Chung appearance was good...

    by Sledge Hammer

    ...but his Millennium appearance as the character is the one where he truly shone. Dog Gamned dyslexia.

  • May 29, 2007, 3:18 a.m. CST

    by BadMrWonka

    wasn't that guy billed as "'Uncle Al the Kiddies Pal"?<p>perhaps he was more indicative of people's stereotypes about homosexuals at the time, than a real trendsetter like Lynde or Reilly...

  • May 29, 2007, 5:16 a.m. CST

    RIP Charles Nelson Reilly

    by Crimson King

    Match Game was awesome. I wish they would release all the episodes on DVD. Definitely my favorite game show. Charles Nelson Reilly was always funny on there, and yeah, the banter between him and Brett was classic stuff. Gene Rayburn was also awesome. And, of course, Richard fuckin' cool that guy. Match Game is so much fun, even to this day.

  • May 29, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Hoo Doo was a Villain Supreme!

    by Borgnine JR

    Right up there with Dr. Doom, Darkseid and Stalin.

  • May 29, 2007, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Charles Nelson Reilly made me want to be a gay man

    by Garbageman33

    I never actually followed through on it. But if I did, it would've been because him and Paul Lynde and John Waters. They always just seemed to be having more fun than the rest of us poor schlubs.

  • May 29, 2007, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Cannonball Run II

    by mrsinister7381

    his greatest moment. RIP

  • May 29, 2007, 9 a.m. CST

    Wait a minute, he was GAY?!

    by mrsinister7381


  • May 29, 2007, 9:20 a.m. CST

    the Dirty Bubble has popped !!!

    by Douche Baggins

    R.I.P. you magnificent bastard. King Llort will live forever.

  • May 29, 2007, 9:45 a.m. CST


    by veritasses


  • May 29, 2007, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Great Television!

    by FleshMachine

    It's all crap theese shows now are all about money and "reality" crap....instead of FUN!!!! RIP CNR, RIP everything before 1990.

  • May 29, 2007, 11:55 a.m. CST


    by DarkLordFett

    I must have missed this when it first hit. But wow. Reilly was an absolute phenom. That over the top, slightly (sometimes very) sarcastic wit was way way ahead of it's time. I really only remember him from watching Match Game on GSN. I haven't seen Cannonball II in a long while, but I'm pretty sure he was his usual self. Brilliant. He and Brett on Match Game pushed the boundaries of 70's television to their absolute limits. They probably broke them on a few occasions too. I'm going to have to check out some of his other works as well as The Life Of Reilly as soon as I can find it.

  • May 29, 2007, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Jose Chung! The Anti-Kilgore Trout

    by Star Trek Apologist

    The Jose Chunge episode of The X-Files is my all time favorite. Charles was great.

  • May 29, 2007, 1:47 p.m. CST

    So long pal

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Thanks for the laughs and the ascots!

  • May 29, 2007, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Gene Rayburn & Gene Roddenbury...

    by Kentucky Colonel

    seperated at birth?

  • May 29, 2007, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Gene Rayburn & Gene Roddenbury...

    by Kentucky Colonel

    seperated at birth?

  • May 29, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Concur with ST Apologist..

    by jwebby

    "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" was one of the best X-Files episodes, second only (to me) to the one w/ the late,great Peter Boyle as the psychic. You will be missed, Charles.

  • May 29, 2007, 6:07 p.m. CST

    "LOVE the moustache"

    by GwynsHeadinaBox

    Best last words ever?

  • May 29, 2007, 6:58 p.m. CST

    I'm honestly saddened

    by Poisonouskid

    That really bummed me out hearing this.

  • May 30, 2007, 1:55 a.m. CST

    "Oh, the PAIN...

    by Deandome

    ..."of everyone thinking I was GAY! --Jonathan Harris. Hate to see CNR dead...loved the X files, like others, best. But I had to jump in and defend the straightness of Jonathan Harris, who was lumped in w/CNR & Paul Lynde here. Sure, there are/were beards in Hollywood...but JH was married to his wife from 1938 to his death in 2002...several kids. And he wasn't the kind of mega-star that would warrant enforced bearding like Rock Hudson et. al. Assumptions aside...he was that classic Dana Carvey bit.."The Effiminate Heterosexual"...but JH actually grew his effete accent when he ditched his natural Bronx drawl.

  • May 30, 2007, 3:24 p.m. CST

    I wish I had as much fun with my life as he..

    by Borgnine JR

    ...seemed to have with his.In that sense he was a good example for us all. But not in the sense that he put peepees in his mouth.