Monday, May 28, 2007

To the Bic Banana in the Sky

Just found out that Charles Nelson Reilly died a few days ago. Star of Broadway, TV game shows, Lidsville, commercials, X Files and Millennium, garish ascots, and crazy toupees, as well as survivor of the Hartford Circus Fire. Not necessarily in that order.

This text lifted blatantly and wholesale from "The Life of Reilly" website message board (because it's too good not to):

Today, I just got a call from Ray Arnett who had just heard from Rip Taylor and I was told about the passing of Charles Nelson Reilly yesterday. I wanted to share some of my memories with all of you.

Charles and I had met at Studio One, and again briefly when I was the Disc-Jockey at the Marlin Beach Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career, and looked Charles up.

I was staying with friends on Wetherly Drive just off Beverly Drive in West Hollywood. Charles told me that he would pick me up one day to go to CBS Television City, and I was so excited. When I asked what kind of car he would be driving, he exclaimed, "A Mercedes of course! What else would I be driving silly?" He told me, " I will pick you up on the corner of Wetherly and Beverly and when I see you I will toot like crazy!"

Charles later loaned me the money in the 70's to rent my first apartment in Los Angeles. When I paid Charles back, he wrote me the nicest note which I framed and keep in my home until this day.

Charles also helped me study acting with Debbie Reynolds, and gave me advice along the way. I was always an entrepreneur and had a t-shirt business and made t-shirts for Charles to wear on "The Match Game". Charles used to take me there and I would sit back stage or join the director in the booth and I had a marvelous time.

One night he took me out on his boat, "Artichoke Hearts" and chased me all around the boat after having a few drinks. His toupee started to fall off, and I told him his hair was falling off - and he yelled - "how do you like that! you take a boy out on your yacht and he tells you his hair is slipping!" When he took us back into Marina Del Rey, he crashed the boat into the dock and yelled to his neighors who lived in their sailboat next to his slip, "Another Perfect Landing!!!!!" I made him a t-shirt that said on the front, "Another Perfect Landing" and on the back it read, "Charles Nelson Reilly Expert Marine Captain".

I used to paint on canvas and I painted a painting for Charles. I painted "Charlie" written in the style of the perfume logo "Charlie". He put hinges on it and hung it over his televison in his bedroom. The painting hid the TV in the wall. One night on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he told Johnny about his robbery. It was the funniest story! He said he came home and the place was a mess, and that this didn't seem out of place because he was messy. Then he went into the toilet and noticed one of his toupee's in the toilet. "I don't care how drunk I get, I never store my hair in the toilet, Johnny!" The crowd roared, then he went on to say his stereo was stolen and some other items, "but you bastards didn't get the TV!!! My friend Don painted me a painting that hid the TV!" The crowd was in hysterics and I felt so honored.

He took me to meet Julie Harris in Santa Barbara to see the play he was directing, "The Belle of Amherst". I had a thrilling evening. We ended up going to a bar in town and we met an older gentleman with a much younger boy. The boy tells me that his sugar daddy owns a private jet, and wondered if Charles and I wanted to go flying with them. The boy proudly told me that one of his favorite things was to have the pilot turn the plane upside down and then everyone tries to catch the liquid that flew out of their drinks!!!! I was frightened to death over that prospect, and Charles at first accepted, but then asked that they not turn the plane over at seeing my horrified look of panic! He said, "Please don't turn the plane upside down, my hair will fall off!!!"

I last saw Charles in his one man show in North Hollywood. We talked a little bit, his last words to me were, "You still have your hair! and... I still have your 8x10 from when you were an actor...."

These were just some of my many memories that I wanted to share with all of your friends on the site. I will miss you Charles, and many many thanks for everything you did for me. I am glad I got to thank you in person!


Don Blanton

Life of Reilly Teaser Trailer

[ADDENDUM - A note on CNR's MySpace page indicates the following about this movie:

For those of you who are asking to see the film, or for copies of the DVD for the film, we are releasing "Life of Reilly" in the fall. We had been waiting, hoping that Charles would recover so he could be part of the process of the release. This isn't going to happen, now. So we will put the film out later this year.

This answers a question I asked here back in March, and I'm glad the film is coming out (no pun intended), but it would have been cool if CNR could have been around and kicking to promote it. I would have loved to see him turn up on The Daily Show.]

Here's a CNR clip-fest for your enjoyment:

Bic Banana Ink Crayons Commercial

Another "Big Banana" Spot

Lidsville Theme

Call Her Mom

CNR as "Jose Chung"

Of course, most of us knew CNR from "Match Game." There are plenty of "Match Game" clips up, but embedding has been disabled for most of them, so it's up to you to go watch em if you're so inclined. Here is a search string to make that easy.

In re: "Match Game," this Metafilter commenter nails it (emphasis added, for emphasis):

By the way, as a kid I used to think something was wrong with me because I planned my entire day around watching Match Game after school. It was my secret, I didn't want anyone to know because I just knew they wouldn't understand. When I later read that the entire cast of the show was totally drunk for most of the tapings, it made sense. It always felt like I was watching a fun grown up party that I wasn't supposed to be awake for.

Just yesterday I was telling Friend of the Blog Patrick J. about how I would ride my bike home from the beach every day in the summer in the afternoon in time to catch "Match Game." Later on, when I was meeting the people in college who remain my friends today, it was always a sure sign of affinity when you made reference to that show and saw the light of recognition in their eyes. "Do I want another frozen gin lemonade? You bet your BLANK!"

To finish, here is a somewhat tangential clip, from "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir," with CNR kind of in the background, in character as Claymore Gregg (on the couch, sans toup') ... and featuring a nice performance by Harry Nilsson, so it's kind of a "favorites of CBRAT" mashup.

Harry Nilsson on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir - March 29, 1969

So long, Charles. Rest in "blank."

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