Barry Nelson Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (7) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 16 April 1917San Francisco, California, USA
Date of Death 7 April 2007Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA
Birth NameHaakon Robert Nielsen
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A genial, well-respected, all-around "nice guy", the breezily handsome Barry Nelson was born Haakon Robert Nielsen on April 16, 1917, in San Francisco, California, to Betsy (Christophersen) and Trygve "Ted" Nielsen, both Norwegian immigrants. He was raised in nearby Oakland and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941. A talent scout from MGM caught Barry in a college production of "Macbeth" and quickly sized up his potential. Cast in earnest secondary roles including Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) and Dr. Kildare's Victory (1942), he was assigned the lead in the war film A Yank on the Burma Road (1942). Serving in WWII, he appeared in the Moss Hart play "Winged Victory", in what would become his Broadway debut, in 1943 and a year later he appeared as "Corporal Barry Nelson" in the 1944 film version of the play. Barry lost major ground in films during the post-war years, but certainly made up for it on the live stage by appearing in a string of New York successes ranging from "The Rat Race" to "The Moon Is Blue."

On TV, in addition to becoming a trivia statistic in the Hollywood annals as being the first to give video life to Ian Fleming's "007" agent James ("Jimmy") Bond in a one-hour production of "Casino Royale" in 1954, Barry lit up the small screen in such dramatic programs as Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) and, in particular, a memorable episode of The Twilight Zone (1959). He also starred in the series The Hunter (1952), a Cold War adventure, and My Favorite Husband (1953), in which he played the level-headed mate and "straight man" to daffy blonde Joan Caulfield. In the 1960s he continued to demonstrate his acting muscle on stage and TV, although he did manage to preserve on film his starring role in Mary, Mary (1963), a huge Broadway hit with Debbie Reynolds co-starring in place of stage partner Barbara Bel Geddes. The lightweight play "Cactus Flower" with Lauren Bacall was another bright vehicle, but star Walter Matthau's clout cost Barry the part when it went to film. Through it all Barry remained a thoroughly solid professional, particularly in the realm of TV-movies. Such standouts include his neighbor/undercover agent to criminals-on-the-run Don Murray and Inger Stevens in The Borgia Stick (1967) and his blind plane crash survivor in Seven in Darkness (1969).

The 1970s proved a very good decade indeed for Barry theater-wise with "Seascape," "The Norman Conquests" and Liza Minnelli's "The Act" among his pleasures, the last-mentioned earning him a Tony nomination. Despite co-starring roles in the blockbuster hit Airport (1970) and comedy Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), the silver screen would not become his strong suit in later years. By the early 1990s he had fully retired.

A popular, clean-cut, down-to-earth "Average Joe" with a charmingly sly side, you just couldn't help but like Barry Nelson. Although he certainly could play the deceptive villain when called upon, he was usually the kind of guy you'd root for having as a neighbor, pal or business partner. Divorced from actress Teresa Celli for quite some time and completely retired now, he and second wife Nansilee (they married in 1992) traveled extensively and enjoyed antique shopping in particular. In 2007, during one of their many excursions, Barry passed away quietly at age 89 at a hotel in Bucks County, Pennesylvania.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Nansilee Hoy (12 November 1992 - 7 April 2007) (his death)
Teresa Celli (19 February 1951 - 1965) (divorced)

Trivia (7)

He was the first person to play "James Bond" in a visual sense (others have played him on radio); he appeared as "Card Sharp Jimmy Bond" in an American TV adaptation of "Casino Royale" on the TV series Climax! (1954).
Was nominated for Broadway's 1978 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for "The Act."
He and second wife Nansi maintained homes both in New York and France.
Graduate of the University of California at Berkeley in 1941.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors Branch).
Is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Was a lifelong Republican and conservative.

Personal Quotes (2)

I always thought Connery was the ideal Bond. What I did is just a curio.
[interview 2004, on being the first actor to portray James Bond in 'Casino Royale', 1957] At that time no one had ever heard of James Bond. I was scratching my head wondering how to play it. I hadn't read the book or anything like that because it wasn't well-known. The worst part of it was that I learned it was to be done on live TV. I thought I was finished with live TV. I was trying to get out of it, actually. They were making changes up to the last minute. There was nothing you could do if anything went wrong. I was very conscious of the fact that there wasn't much to go on. It was too superficial.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page