||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
|Edwin Stafford "Ed" Nelson|
Nelson as Dr. Michael Rossi in Peyton Place
December 21, 1928 |
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Residence||Sterlington, Ouachita Parish
|Alma mater||Tulane University|
|Spouse(s)||Patsy Nelson (married 1950-present) 6 children|
Nelson has appeared in numerous television programs, more than fifty motion pictures, and hundreds of stage productions. Until 2005, he was teaching acting and screenwriting in his native New Orleans at two local universities there. Hurricane Katrina prompted him to move his family to Sterlington north of Monroe in Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana.
Nelson began acting while attending Tulane University in New Orleans. He left college after two years to study at the New York School of Radio and Television Technique. After graduating, he took a position as a director at WDSU-TV in New Orleans. By 1956, acting became his central focus and he moved to the Los Angeles area. Early in his career he worked with famed B-movie producer Roger Corman on the films as Cry Baby Killers, A Bucket of Blood, Teenage Cave Man, and Attack of the Crab Monsters. In 1958 he participated in Bruno VeSota's science fiction horror film The Brain Eaters.
His television career featured many guest starring roles, such as the talented but arrogant Dr. Wade Parsons in the 1962 episode "Doctor on Horseback" of the NBC western series, The Tall Man, starring Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett. Dr. Parsons works to save the life of a pregnant young woman who attempts suicide when her husband deserts her.
Nelson was cast in episodes of such westerns as Wagon Train, Black Saddle, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Rebel (five times), Johnny Ringo, Gunsmoke, Tombstone Territory, Laramie, Bonanza, Stoney Burke, The Dakotas, and Redigo.
He appeared on drama and adventure series too, such as The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Harbor Command, Tightrope, The Blue Angels (as the arrogant flight instructor Lieutenant Dayl Martin in "The Jarheads"), COronado 9, The Eleventh Hour, Thriller, and Channing, an ABC drama that romanticizes college life. He also guest starred on Jackie Cooper CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey.
He made two guest appearances on CBS's Perry Mason, both times as the defendant; in 1961 he played Ward Nichols in "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar," and in 1964 he played Dirk Blake, father of the title character, in "The Case of the Missing Button."
In 1964, Nelson secured his most famous role portraying Dr. Michael Rossi on the ABC drama Peyton Place, which ran from 1964 to 1969. Nelson's fellow cast members included Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neal, and Dorothy Malone. By 1968, all of the original stars had left the series, and Nelson became the lead actor on the show. Nelson reprised his role in two made-for-TV movies, Murder in Peyton Place and Peyton Place: The Next Generation.
After Peyton Place ended, Nelson worked in many more productions of all varieties, including starring role in many movies of the week, a second television series, The Silent Force, and a popular morning talk show which he hosted for three years.
While living in Los Angeles, Nelson was an active member of the Screen Actors Guild and was elected to the union board for many years. Nelson is a long-standing member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and continues a long tradition of participation in voting for the Academy Awards.
In 1999, Nelson returned to Tulane University to finish credits toward his undergraduate degree, which he completed the following year at the age of seventy-one. Nelson continues to act as the opportunity arises. He and his wife of 63 years, Patsy, enjoy semi-retirement visiting his six children and fourteen grandchildren.