Louis Nye

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Louis Nye
Louis Nye 1966.JPG
Nye in 1966.
Born Louis Neistat
(1913-05-01)May 1, 1913
Hartford, Connecticut
United States
Died October 9, 2005(2005-10-09) (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California
United States
Resting place Hillside Memorial Park
Culver City, California
United States
Plot: Acacia Gardens Cremation Wall Space TT-643
Occupation Actor
Years active 1950–2005
Spouse(s) Anita Leonard
(?-2005) (his death) 1 child

Louis Nye (May 1, 1913 – October 9, 2005) was an American comedy actor.[1]

Early years[edit]

He was born Louis Neistat in Hartford, Connecticut, son of Joseph Neistat and Jennie Sherman. His sister Rose Neistat was born 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]

Decided to go to New York, where 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."

Nye served in the United States Army during World War II, and because he earned laughs by mimicking other soldiers, he was assigned to run the recreation hall. Following his discharge, he returned to New York and began working in live television. He also appeared in several plays on Broadway.

Nye made many appearances on The Jack Benny Program and The Jimmy Durante Show, and also appeared on The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. He earned attention as a regular on The Steve Allen Show, in which he was part of the weekly "Man on the Street" sketches, performing with Allen, Don Knotts, Dayton Allen, Tom Poston and Bill Dana.

Nye became a popular sketch comedian who primarily played urbane, wealthy bon vivant types. 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 in 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 the banker, Milburn Drysdale, on CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies during the 1962 season. He did six episodes, and received more mail than from anything else he had ever done on TV, but the character was dropped. It was rumored that someone in the CBS network, or a sponsor, thought Sonny was too "sissified." Nye revived the character briefly during the 1966 season, however.

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

Nye 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 stars as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Walter Matthau, Robert Mitchum, Jack Webb and Joanne Woodward, among others. Nye also appeared on the lecture circuit, in concerts and in night clubs, 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 the age of 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 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.

Louis Nye died of lung cancer. He is interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.



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