Louis Nye

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Louis Nye
Nye in 1966
Louis Neistat

(1913-05-01)May 1, 1913
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
DiedOctober 9, 2005(2005-10-09) (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park, Culver City, California
Years active1950–2005
SpouseAnita Leonard
RelativesCasey Neistat (great-nephew), Van Neistat (great-nephew)[1]

Louis Nye (May 1, 1913 – October 9, 2005) was an American comedic actor.[2] He was an entertainer to the troops during World War II and is best known for his work on countless television, film and radio programs.

Early years[edit]

He was born Louis Neistat in Hartford, Connecticut, son of Joseph Neistat and Jennie Sherman. His sister Rose Neistat was born in 1917. Although Nye, who pronounced his given name as Louie, later claimed he was born in 1922, he is listed as age six in the 1920 Hartford County, Connecticut, Federal Census.

Nye's parents were both Yiddish speaking Jews from the Russian Empire. They emigrated to the United States in 1906, and became naturalized citizens in 1911. His father owned a small grocery store, which his wife helped him run. Louis Nye attended Weaver High School, but he was not a good student. "My marks were so low," he explained, "that they wouldn't let me in the drama club. So I went down to WTIC Radio, auditioned, and got on a show."

Radio and television[edit]

Nye decided to go to New York City, where he worked in radio, playing various roles on soap operas. He recalled "I still think of myself as an actor. In the radio days, I was busy playing rotten Nazis, rich uncles and emotional juveniles -- the whole span -- and the only time I tried to be funny was at parties."[citation needed]

Nye served in the United States Army during World War II, and because he earned laughs by mimicking other soldiers, he was assigned to Special Services[citation needed] where he met Carl Reiner. Following his discharge, he returned to New York and began working in live television. He also appeared in several plays on Broadway, and made many appearances on television variety shows such as The Jack Benny Program (including one memorable turn as a crying cab driver), The Jimmy Durante Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and The Victor Borge Show.

He earned his greatest fame as a regular on The Steve Allen Show, performing with Allen, Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington Jr., Dayton Allen, Gabriel Dell and Bill Dana. He primarily played urbane, wealthy, and often fey bon vivants; as part of the weekly "Man on the Street" sketches, his characterization of the pretentious country-club braggart Gordon Hathaway, with his catchphrase, "Hi-ho, Steverino," plus Allen's inability to resist bursting into hysterical laughter at his ad-libs, made Nye one of the favorites on Allen's show. When production moved to Los Angeles, Nye went too and became a character actor in Hollywood.

Nye was cast as a guest star on many television series, including Make Room for Daddy; Guestward, Ho!; Burke's Law; The Munsters; Love, American Style; Laverne & Shirley; Starsky and Hutch; Police Woman; Fantasy Island; St. Elsewhere; and The Cosby Show.

Nye played dentist Delbert Gray on several episodes of The Ann Sothern Show from 1960 to 1961, the romantic interest of Olive Smith, played by Ann Tyrrell (1909–1983). Nye also played Sonny Drysdale, the spoiled rich stepson of Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies during the 1962 season. He did six episodes, and received more mail than from anything else he had ever done on television, but the character was dropped. It was rumored that someone in the CBS network, or a sponsor, thought Sonny was too "sissified". However, Nye revived the character briefly during the 1966 season. During this period, Nye appeared in several television commercials for various products, including Rath brand lunch meats and the Better Business Bureau.

Nye was a member of the cast of Needles and Pins, playing Harry Karp. The sitcom, which starred Norman Fell, ran for 14 episodes in the autumn of 1973.

Nye appeared as a celebrity judge on The Gong Show during the late 1970s. He also recorded a few comedy LPs, doing a variety of characterizations. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to reach his potential in movies. Many of his character roles were little more than cameos. Nevertheless, he performed with Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Walter Matthau, Robert Mitchum, Jack Webb and Joanne Woodward, and others. Nye also appeared on the lecture circuit, in concerts and in nightclubs, and did voice work in animation, such as Inspector Gadget with Don Adams.

Last years[edit]

Nye never retired. He completed a 24-city tour of the country for Columbia Artists, ending the tour with a two-week stint at the Sahara in Las Vegas. At age 92, he continued to work, appearing in his recurring role of Jeff Greene's father on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm from 2000 to 2005.

Nye lived in Pacific Palisades, California with his wife, pianist-songwriter Anita Leonard, who wrote the standard, "A Sunday Kind of Love." Married since the late 1940s, they had a son, artist Peter Nye. Nye was also the great uncle of filmmakers Casey Neistat, Van Neistat and stuntman Dean Neistat.[3]

Nye died of lung cancer October 9, 2005 and was cremated. His ashes are interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Sex Kittens Go to College Dr. Zorch
The Facts of Life Hamilton Busbee
1961 The Last Time I Saw Archie Private Sam Beacham
1962 Zotz! Hugh Fundy
Beverly Hillbillies Sonny Drysdale 3 episodes
‘’The Munsters’’ Zombo
1963 The Stripper Ronnie
The Wheeler Dealers Stanislaus
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Harry Tobler
1964 Good Neighbor Sam Det. Reinhold Shiffner
1967 A Guide for the Married Man Irving
1976 Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Radio Announcer
1977 Charge of the Model T's Friedrich Schmidt
1978 Harper Valley PTA Kirby Baker
1981 Full Moon High Minister
The Reluctant Dragon St. George
1984 Cannonball Run II Fisherman #3
1987 O.C. and Stiggs Garth Sloan
The Cosby Show Norman Kirby


  1. ^ Video on YouTube
  2. ^ Barron, James (October 11, 2005). "Louis Nye, 92, Comic Actor and Sidekick to Steve Allen, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  3. ^ my brother Van. CaseyNeistat. March 9, 2021. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3d ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 555. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7. Retrieved September 30, 2023.

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