Ralph Nelson

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Ralph Nelson
File:Portrait of Ralph Nelson.jpg
Portrait of Ralph Nelson
Born (1916-08-12)August 12, 1916
Long Island City, New York, U.S.
Died December 21, 1987(1987-12-21) (aged 71)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Years active 1950-1979
Spouse(s) Celeste Holm (1936–1939)[1]
Beatrice Bahnsen (1945-1947)
Barbara Powers (1954-1981, her death)
Children Ted Nelson (b. 1937)
Ralph Nelson (b. 1946)
Peter Nelson (b. 1955)
Meredith Nelson (b. 1956)

Ralph Nelson (August 12, 1916 – December 21, 1987) was an American film and television director, producer, writer, and actor.

Life and career

Nelson was born in Long Island City, New York. He served in the Army Air Corps as a flight instructor[2] in World War II.

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,[3] ...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.

Nelson's other credits include several episodes of TV's Starsky & Hutch, the '70s camp horror classic Embryo, and A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich.

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.[citation needed]

He returned to TV in the late 1970s with a string of TV movies, including a sequel to Lillies of the Field which starred Billy Dee Williams.


He died in Santa Monica, California, aged 71.




  1. Married to Celeste Holm from 1936 to 1939 per Holm profile at superiorpics.com
  2. "Radio: The Three Prosceniums". Time. December 28, 1953.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sullivan, Ronald (1987-12-25). "Ralph Nelson, Early TV Director; Made 'Requiem for Heavyweight'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links