Craig T. Nelson

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Craig T. Nelson
Craig T. Nelson at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Nelson at the Paleyfest 2013 panel for Parenthood
Craig Theodore Nelson

(1944-04-04) April 4, 1944 (age 76)
Alma materUniversity of Arizona
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian
Years active1969–present
  • Robin McCarthy
    (m. 1965; div. 1978)
  • Doria Cook
    (m. after 1987)

Craig Theodore Nelson[1] (born April 4, 1944) is an American actor and former stand-up comedian.[1] He is known for his roles as Hayden Fox in the sitcom Coach (for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series), Deputy Ward Wilson in the 1980 film Stir Crazy, Steve Freeling in the 1982 film Poltergeist, Peter Dellaplane in Action Jackson, and Chief Howard Hyde in Turner & Hooch (1989), the warden in My Name is Earl, and Mr. Incredible in the 2004 film The Incredibles and its 2018 sequel. He also starred as Zeek Braverman in the television series Parenthood.

Early life[edit]

Nelson was born Craig Theodore Nelson in Spokane, Washington, on April 4, 1944.[1][2] He was the son of Vera Margaret (née Spindler; 1906–1971), a dancer, and Armand Gilbert Nelson (1900–1964), a businessman.

Nelson attended Lewis and Clark High School, where he played football, baseball, and basketball.[2][3]

After high school, Nelson studied at Central Washington University.[4] After flunking out, Nelson went to Yakima Valley College where he was inspired to study acting by his drama teacher, Mr. Brady.[5] From Yakima, he went on to study drama at the University of Arizona on a scholarship.[2][6]

In 1969, Nelson dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.[2] When he first moved to California, he took up a job as a security guard at a soap factory until finding work as a comedy writer.[2]


Nelson began his show business career as a stand-up comedian.[1] He was an early member of The Groundlings comedy troupe.[7] Nelson, Barry Levinson, and Rudy De Luca formed their own comedy team and were regular performers at The Comedy Store.[1] In 1973, Nelson left the comedy world, explaining "the standup comedy life was pretty unfulfilling for me"[8] and he settled in Montgomery Creek, California where there was no electricity and no running water; "it was contentment, The Waltons", he said.[9] Nelson had different jobs during that time including janitor, plumber, carpenter, surveyor, and high school teacher. He returned to acting five years later.[8]

He was featured as a prosecuting attorney who opposes Al Pacino in the 1979 film ...And Justice for All, co-written by Levinson. In 1983, Nelson appeared in Silkwood, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, as the high school football coach of Tom Cruise in the drama All the Right Moves and as one of the stars of director Sam Peckinpah's final film, The Osterman Weekend.

He has appeared in many other motion pictures (most notably the Poltergeist series) and had featured roles in five television shows (Coach, Call to Glory, The District, My Name Is Earl, and Parenthood). Coach ran from 1989 to 1997, with Nelson starring as college football coach Hayden Fox.

Nelson in 2004

He provided the voice of Bob Parr (also known as Mr. Incredible) in the computer-animated superhero film, The Incredibles, and returned to the role for its sequel, Incredibles 2.[10] Nelson also reprised the role again in the video games Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure and in the Disney Infinity video game series, except for the video game and The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, where he was replaced by actor Richard McGonagle.[11]

During the early 1990s, he made a guest appearance in the music video for country singer Garth Brooks's song "We Shall Be Free."

Nelson made a three-episode guest appearance on CSI: NY as a "nemesis" of Gary Sinise's Taylor.[12]

His latest films include 2009's The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds' skeptical father, 2010's The Company Men as a greedy CEO, and 2018‘s Book Club. From 2010 to 2015, he starred in the television show Parenthood as Ezekiel "Zeek" Braverman, the family patriarch. His production company is Family Tree Productions.[13]

Political views[edit]

Nelson stated in an interview with Glenn Beck that he had been on welfare and collected food stamps. In that same interview, he railed at taxes, government, and the lack of fiscal responsibility in society. He also stated that he was thinking about no longer paying taxes because he disapproved of using public funds to rescue those struggling. "What happened to society? I go into business, I don’t make it, I go bankrupt. I’ve been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No. They gave me hope, they gave me encouragement, and they gave me a vision."[14]

Personal life[edit]

Nelson has three children from his previous marriage to Robin McCarthy.[15] His second wife Doria Cook-Nelson is a freelance writer, president of a martial arts association, karate instructor, tai chi teacher and a former film and television actress who had a featured role in the movie musical Mame.[15]

Nelson is a motorsports fan and an avid racer. He first participated in the 1991 Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix[15] and finished ninth. In 1992, he founded Screaming Eagles Racing with John Christie and entered and drove a Toyota-engined Spice SE90 in the IMSA 1994 WSC, a Lexus-engined Spice SE90 in 1995 and a Ford-engined Riley & Scott MkIII in the 1996 and 1997 championships.



Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Return of Count Yorga Sgt. O'Connor
1973 Scream Blacula Scream Sarge
1974 Flesh Gordon The Monster (voice) Uncredited
1979 ...And Justice for All Frank Bowers
1980 Stir Crazy Deputy Ward Wilson
1980 The Formula Geologist #2
1980 Where the Buffalo Roam Cop on Stand
1980 Private Benjamin Capt. William Woodbridge
1982 Poltergeist Steve Freeling
1983 Man, Woman and Child Bernie Ackerman
1983 Silkwood Winston
1983 All the Right Moves Coach Burt Nickerson
1983 The Osterman Weekend Bernard Osterman
1984 The Killing Fields Major Reeves
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side Steve Freeling
1987 Rachel River Marlyn Huutula
1988 Action Jackson Peter Dellaplane
1988 Me and Him Peter Aramis
1989 Born on the Fourth of July Marine Officer
1989 Red Riding Hood Sir Godfrey / Percival
1989 Turner & Hooch Chief Howard Hyde
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Fred Nefler
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Ed Peters
1996 I'm Not Rappaport The Cowboy
1997 The Devil's Advocate Alexander Cullen
1997 Wag the Dog Senator John Neal Uncredited
2000 The Skulls Litten Mandrake
2001 All Over Again Cole Twain
2004 The Incredibles Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (voice)
2005 The Family Stone Kelly Stone
2007 Blades of Glory Coach Darren Goddard
2009 The Proposal Joe Paxton
2010 The Company Men James Salinger
2011 Soul Surfer Dr. David Rovinsky
2015 Get Hard Martin Barrow
2016 Gold Kenny Wells
2018 Book Club Bruce Jutsum
2018 Incredibles 2 Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Charlie the mechanic Episode: "Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady"
1978 Charlie's Angels Stone Episode: "Angels on the Run"
1978 Wonder Woman Sam Episode: "The Deadly Sting"
1979 How the West Was Won Tugger Episode: "The Rustler"
1979 Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker Driver Television movie
1980 The Promise of Love Major Landau Television movie
1980 The White Shadow Father Phil Episode: "A Christmas Story"
1981 Inmates: A Love Story Daniels Television movie
1981 WKRP in Cincinnati Charlie Bathgate Episode: "Out to Lunch"
1981 Murder in Texas Jack Ramsey Television movie
1981–1982 Private Benjamin Capt. Braddock / Col. Hogan recurring role; 3 episodes
1982 Paper Dolls Michael Caswell Television movie
1982 Chicago Story Kenneth A. Dutton 13 episodes
1984–1985 Call to Glory Col. Raynor Sarnac 23 episodes
1986 Alex: The Life of a Child Frank Deford Television movie
1986 The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story Senator Edward Kennedy Television movie
1989 Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story Major Bill Harcourt Television movie
1989–1997 Coach Coach Hayden Fox series regular; 198 episodes
1990 Drug Wars: The Camarena Story Harley Steinmetz Television miniseries
1990 Extreme Close-Up Philip Television movie
1991 The Josephine Baker Story Walter Winchell Television movie
1993 The Switch Russ Fine Television movie
1993 The Fire Next Time Drew Morgan Television miniseries
1994 Ride with the Wind Frank Shelby Television movie
1994 Probable Cause Lieutenant Louis Whitmire Television movie
1994 The Lies Boys Tell Larry Television movie
1996 If These Walls Could Talk Jim Harris Television movie ("1996" segment)
1998 Creature Dr. Simon Chase Television miniseries
1999 To Serve and Protect Tom Carr Television miniseries
2000 The Huntress Ralph Thorson Episode: "Pilot"
2000 Dirty Pictures Simon Leis Television movie
2000–2004 The District Chief Jack Mannion series regular; 89 episodes
2001 Yes, Dear TV Actor Episode: "Jimmy's Jimmy", Uncredited
2002 The Agency Chief Jack Mannion Episode: "Doublecrossover"
2007 My Name Is Earl Warden Jerry Hazelwood 4 episodes
2008–2009 CSI: NY Robert Dunbrook 3 episodes
2009 Monk Judge Ethan Rickover 2 episodes
2010–2015 Parenthood Ezekiel "Zeke" Braverman series regular; 91 episodes
2013 Hawaii Five-0 Tyler Cain Episode: "He welo 'oihana"
2015 Grace and Frankie Guy 5 episodes
2017 Raised by Wolves Paul "Grampy" Kosinski Television movie
2019–present Young Sheldon Dale Ballard recurring role

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2004 The Incredibles Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (archive footage)
2012 Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible
2013 Disney Infinity
2014 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1983–1984 Friends Harold (Okie) Peterson
1998 Ah, Wilderness! Nat Miller

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Title Accolade Results
1990 Coach Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
1991 Nominated
1992 Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Viewers for Quality Television award, Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
1993 American Television award, Best Actor in a Situation Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television award, Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
1994 Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
1995 Nominated
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Award Circuit Community award, Best Cast Ensemble Nominated
2001 The District Actor of the Year in a New Series Nominated
2002 Satellite award, Best Lead Actor in a Series - Drama Nominated
2004 Prism award, Best Performance in a Drama Series Episode Nominated
2005 The Incredibles MTV Movie + TV award, Best On-Screen Team (shared with Holly Hunter, Spencer Fox & Sarah Vowell) Nominated
The Family Stone Satellite award, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical Nominated
The Incredibles Visual Effects Society award, Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture Won
2006 The Family Stone AARP Movies for Grownups award, Best Grownup Love Story (shared with Diane Keaton) Won
2010 Ojai Film Festival award, Lifetime Achievement award Won
2012 Parenthood Prism award, Male Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline Won
2015 Critics Choice Television award, Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e Harris, Will (September 26, 2013). "Craig T. Nelson on comedy, chemistry, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 29, 2019. I've never, ever been Craig Richard Nelson. Ever! My birth certificate says Craig Theodore.
  2. ^ a b c d e Editors (April 2, 2014) [First published April 2, 2014]. "Craig T. Nelson". The website. A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Distinguished Lewis and Clark High School alumni". Spokane Public Schools. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Armstrong, Liahna (September 25, 2014). "Former Wildcat Craig T. Nelson coming to local film festival". Daily Record. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Holcomb, Kim (August 28, 2018) [First published May 2, 2018]. "Northwest native Craig T. Nelson made his way to Hollywood by way of Yakima". KING-TV. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  7. ^ "History: In the Beginning". The Groundlings. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Logan, Joe (January 8, 1990). "Craig T. Nelson's Slow Path To Stardom The Star Of Abc's "Coach\" Twice Flunked Out Of College. For A While, He Was A Father On Welfare. Now His Film Credits Include \"silkwood\" And \"poltergeist," And Tonight He's In An Nbc Mini-series". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "D23 Expo: Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films". July 14, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  11. ^ Navarro, Alex (November 3, 2004). "The Incredibles Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Eng, Joyce (December 3, 2008). "Craig T. Nelson to Guest on CSI: NY". Retrieved December 5, 2008.
  13. ^ Wethington, Jessica (June 7, 2001). "Emmy performers: Craig T. Nelson". Variety. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  14. ^ "Glenn Beck And Craig T. Nelson Talk About Not Paying Taxes Ever Again, For Some Reason". Huffington Post. May 29, 2009.
  15. ^ a b c Knutzen, Eirik (October 1, 2000). "Craig T. Nelson Is D.c.'s Top Cop". The Morning Call. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  16. ^ Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of.

External links[edit]