Saturday, June 2, 2007

Charles Nelson Reilly, R.I.P.

While channel surfing this morning, I came across an episode of "Match Game" on GSN. I then went to the digital cable guide and found that they were showing "Match Game" episodes all day. So I say to myself, "cool, I can work on my radio show and watch a little Match Game". When they went to commercial break, I found out why they were doing the marathon... because of the death of Charles Nelson Reilly. When I went on Wikipedia, I found out that he died on May 25th from pneumonia.

Chances are if you grew up in the 1970s like I did, one of things you looked forward to afterschool was catching the antics of Gene Rayburn, Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers, Richard Dawson and the rest of the Match Game "ding-a-lings" (as Gene would say). One of the highlights of the show were the barbs that the cast (especially Brett and Charles) traded back and forth.

It's also fun to see if you can spot which episodes were taped after lunch. As some of you Match Game fans may know, they taped several shows a day with a break for lunch in between. During lunch, the celebs would often partake in potent potables (pardon the Jeopardy reference). This led to the last few episodes of the week having an even looser feel to them. Watching it now also makes it even more apparent that kids today are alot more sophisticated than most of us were back in the day. Although he certainly never tried to conceal it, CNR's sexuality never occurred to me when I was a kid.

In addition to his game show appearances, kids of the 1970s also may remember CNR for his contributions to Saturday morning TV. From 1971-73, he appeared as the evil magician Horatio J. HooDoo on "Lidsville". This Sid & Marty Krofft production also starred Butch Patrick (aka Eddie Munster) as a teenager who fell into the hat of Merlo the Magician and arrived in Lidsville, a land of living hats. The hats on the show would have the same occupations as the humans who would normally wear them (for example, a cowboy hat would act like a cowboy).

Unless you remember seeing this show, you might be saying to yourself "Malcolm, you are making this shit up!". In addition to the living hats, one of the things that sticks out in my mind about "Lidsville" is CNR's portrayal of Hoodo and the fact that he flew around in a big hat (his "Hatamaran" ).

CNR was also the star of "Uncle Croc's Block", which aired on ABC from 1975-76. Although I watched it on a regular basis when it originally aired, I don't remember much about it given that I haven't seen it since then. Given that "Uncle Croc's Block" was a spoof of children's TV (a forerunner to Pee Wee's Playhouse), most of it probably went over my head.

Some CNR-related links for you to check out:

Match Game: Time To Separate the Children

CNR Hosts Match Game

Match Game: Snow White Question

CNR appearance on Here's Lucy

The Opening and Closing Credits To Lidsville


Emily said...

I had a funny feeling in my leg the day that Charles Nelson Reilly died. In retrospect, deep down inside, I must have known that he was no longer with us.....either that or I just bumped my shin on the coffee table....RIP CNR

Malcolm: said...

Hello Boots! Great line about your "feeling" that CNR was gone. Watching the Match Game marathon on Saturday is inching me closer towards buying the DVD boxed set.

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