From the LA Times’ Valerie J. Nelson.
Charles Nelson Reilly, whose persona as a wacky game show panelist and talk show guest overshadowed his serious work as a director and Tony-winning actor, has died. He was 76.
Reilly, a longtime resident of Beverly Hills, died Friday of complications from pneumonia at UCLA Medical Center, said Paul Linke, who directed Reilly’s one-man show “Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly.”
“The average person thinks of him as being on ‘The Match Game.’ That was a mixed blessing for him,” Linke told The Times on Monday. “One of the reasons I was so motivated to get his show out there was because I wanted people to recognize that this was a heavyweight talent.”
When a Times reporter visited his home in 2000, Reilly displayed an opera review that referred to him as “Charles Nelson Reilly of ‘Hollywood Squares’ fame.”
“It’s like a scarlet letter,” Reilly yowled in his high-pitched, nasal voice.
Reilly’s close friend Burt Reynolds said in a 1991 Times article that he thought Reilly’s reputation as the perpetual jester had worked against him in Hollywood
“We have a thing in this town that if you are enormously witty and gregarious, you can’t be very deep. There’s something wrong with a society that says, ‘You’re the wit, but you’re not the teacher.’ People just haven’t seen him in this arena,” Reynolds said.
Though Craig Finn was not necessarily unavailable for comment, he’s not on my buddylist, either.