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Portrait of Ralph Nelson
August 12, 1916|
Long Island City, New York, U.S.
December 21, 1987 (aged 71)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Celeste Holm (1936–1939)|
Beatrice Bahnsen (1945-1947)
Barbara Powers (1954-1981, her death)
|Children||4, including Ted Nelson|
Ralph Nelson (August 12, 1916 – December 21, 1987) was an American film and television director, producer, writer, and actor. He was best known for directing the Oscar-winning films Lilies of the Field (1963), Father Goose (1964), and Charly (1968).
Life and career
Nelson directed the acclaimed episode "A World of His Own" of The Twilight Zone (he should not be confused with The Twilight Zone's production manager, Ralph W. Nelson). He also directed both the television and film versions of Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight.
He directed Charly, the 1968 film version of Flowers for Algernon, for which Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award, as well as several racially provocative films in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the Academy Award-winning Lilies of the Field, ...tick...tick...tick..., Christmas Lilies of the Field, The Wilby Conspiracy, and Soldier Blue. The starring role in "Lilies" led to Sidney Poitier winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Nelson also directed the Cary Grant comedy Father Goose, the offbeat Soldier in the Rain with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen, the crime story Once a Thief, and Rita Hayworth's last film, The Wrath of God. He both directed, and briefly appeared in, Duel at Diablo, starring James Garner and Sidney Poitier.
A television drama about mounting the live show of Requiem for a Heavyweight called The Man in the Funny Suit was made in 1960, with Nelson both writing and directing. Nelson, Serling, Red Skelton, Keenan Wynn and Ed Wynn appeared in it as themselves.
He returned to TV in the late 1970s with a string of TV movies, including a sequel to Lilies of the Field called Christmas Lilies of the Field which starred Billy Dee Williams, Maria Schell, and Fay Hauser.
He died in 1987 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71.
- Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
- Lilies of the Field (1963)
- Soldier in the Rain (1963)
- Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
- Father Goose (1964)
- Once a Thief (1965)
- Duel at Diablo (1966)
- Counterpoint (1967)
- Charly (1968)
- ...tick...tick...tick... (1970)
- Soldier Blue (1970)
- Flight of the Doves (1971)
- The Wrath of God (1972)
- The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)
- Embryo (1976)
- A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1978)
- Married to Celeste Holm from 1936 to 1939 per Holm profile at superiorpics.com
- "Radio: The Three Prosceniums". Time. December 28, 1953.
- Sullivan, Ronald (1987-12-25). "Ralph Nelson, Early TV Director; Made 'Requiem for Heavyweight'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
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