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
Born Craig Theodore Nelson
(1944-04-04) April 4, 1944 (age 71)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Alma mater Central Washington University
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1971–present
Known for Hayden Fox in Coach
Notable work Coach, Stir Crazy, Poltergeist, My Name Is Earl, The Incredibles, Parenthood
Spouse(s) Robin McCarthy (m. 1965–78)
Doria Cook-Nelson (m. 1987)
Children 3

Craig Theodore Nelson[1] (born April 4, 1944) is an American actor and former comedian. He is best known for his Emmy-winning role as Hayden Fox on the TV series Coach, Deputy Ward Wilson in the 1980 film Stir Crazy, Steven Freeling in the 1982 film Poltergeist, the Warden in My Name is Earl, and Mr. Incredible in the 2004 film The Incredibles. He also starred in the TV series Parenthood.

Early life[edit]

Nelson was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Vera Margaret (née Spindler), a dancer, and Armand Gilbert Nelson, a businessman. Nelson has a brown belt in karate.[2] In high school, Nelson was the quarterback of the football team and also played baseball. He attended Central Washington University studying criminology as he wanted to work for the CIA. He dropped out and went to Yakima Valley Community College to study English literature, but he dropped out again. He spent a semester abroad studying communications at Northfielde Universität Herisau in Switzerland. He eventually received a drama scholarship to the University of Arizona. Nelson did summer stock theatre in Cripple Creek, Colorado. He then moved to the west, where he worked as a security guard at a soap factory in the day and took acting classes at night.[3]


Nelson began his show business career as a comedian. He was an early member of The Groundlings comedy troupe.[4] 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"[3] and he settled in Mount Shasta where there was no electricity and no running water; "it was contentment, The Waltons, he said.[5] Nelson had different jobs during that time including janitor, plumber, carpenter, surveyor, and teacher. He returned to acting five years later.[3]

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.

He voiced Mr. Incredible in the 2004 animated film The Incredibles. He then reprised the role again in the video game, Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure and Disney Infinity.

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" to Gary Sinise’s Taylor.[6]

His most recent films include 2009's The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds' skeptical father and 2010's The Company Men as a greedy CEO. From 2010 to 2015, he has starred in the television show Parenthood as Zeek Braverman, the family patriarch.

Personal life[edit]

Nelson stated in an interview with Glenn Beck that he had been on welfare and collected food stamps. "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No."[7]

Nelson has three children from his previous marriage to Robin McCarthy: Tiffany, Chris and Noah. Chris is a science fiction writer.[8] Noah is also a writer; he wrote for The District and CSI: NY.[9] Noah was married to actress Ashley Jones in 2003. The couple divorced in 2009.

His second wife Doria Cook-Nelson is a freelance writer, president of a martial arts association, karate instructor and tai chi teacher who had a featured role in the movie musical Mame.[8]

Nelson is a motorsports fan and an avid racer. He first participated in the 1991 Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix[8] and finished third. In 1994, Craig 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.



Nelson in 2004
Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Return of Count Yorga Sgt. O'Connor
1974 Flesh Gordon The Monster Uncredited
1979 ...And Justice for All Frank Bowers
1980 Stir Crazy Deputy Ward Wilson
1980 Where the Buffalo Roam Cop on Stand
1980 Private Benjamin Capt. William Woodbridge
1982 Poltergeist Steven Freeling
1983 Man, Woman and Child Bernie Ackerman
1983 Silkwood Winston
1983 All the Right Moves Nickerson
1983 The Osterman Weekend Bernard Osterman
1984 The Killing Fields Major Reeves
1986 Alex: The Life of a Child Frank Deford
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side Steven Freeling
1986 The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story Senator Edward Kennedy Television movie
1989 Red Riding Hood Sir Godfrey/Percival
1988 Action Jackson Peter Dellaplane
1989 Born on the Fourth of July Marine Officer
1989 Turner & Hooch Chief Howard Hyde
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Fred Nefler
1991 The Josephine Baker Story Walter Winchell Television movie
1993 The Fire Next Time Drew Morgan Miniseries
1994 Ride with the Wind Frank Shelby Television movie
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
1998 Creature Dr. Simon Chase Television movie
2000 The Skulls Litten Mandrake
2000 Dirty Pictures Simon Leis Television movie
2001 All Over Again Cole Twain
2004 The Incredibles Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible Voice role
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Team
2005 The Family Stone Kelly Stone Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
2007 Blades of Glory Coach
2009 The Proposal Joe Paxton
2010 The Company Men James Salinger
2011 Soul Surfer Dr. Robinsky
2015 Get Hard Martin Barrow


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Charlie Episode: "Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady"
1980 The White Shadow Father Phil Episode: "A Christmas Story"
1982 Chicago Story Kenneth A. Dutton 13 episodes
1984–1985 Call to Glory Col. Raynor Sarnac 23 episodes
1989–1997 Coach Coach Hayden Fox 198 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1992–95)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1990–91)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series
1999 To Serve and Protect Tom Carr 2 episodes
2000–2004 The District Chief Jack Mannion 89 episodes
Nominated—Prism Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
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 Zeek Braverman 91 episodes
Prism Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
2013 Hawaii Five-0 Tyler Cain Episode: "He welo 'oihana"
2015 Grace and Frankie Guy 5 episodes


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

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2004 The Incredibles Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)
2012 Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)
2013 Disney Infinity Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0 Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)[10]


  1. ^ a b Harris, Will (2013-09-26). "Craig T. Nelson on comedy, chemistry, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-09-06. I’ve never, ever been Craig Richard Nelson. Ever! My birth certificate says Craig Theodore. 
  2. ^ Craig T. Nelson - Biography
  3. ^ a b c 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. 
  4. ^ "History: In the Beginning". The Groundlings. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ Craig T. Nelson to Guest on CSI: NY" TV Guide. December 3, 2008. Retrieved on December 5, 2008.
  7. ^ "Glenn Beck And Craig T. Nelson Talk About Not Paying Taxes Ever Again, For Some Reason". Huffington Post. May 29, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c Knutzen, Eirik (October 1, 2000). "Craig T. Nelson Is D.c.'s Top Cop". The Morning Call. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Getlen, Larry (September 23, 2010). "Life Lessons". AARP. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of. 

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