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Gene Nelson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 24 March 1920Seattle, Washington, USA
Date of Death 16 September 1996Los Angeles, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameEugene Leander Berg
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Gene Nelson was barely a teen when he saw the Fred Astaire movie Flying Down to Rio (1933), which would change his life. It was then that he decided he would be a dancer. After graduating from high school, Nelson joined the Sonja Henie Ice Show and toured for 3 years before joining the Army in World War II. After he was discharged, he appeared in a handful of movies before 1950. He worked with Debbie Reynolds in The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950), Doris Day in Tea for Two (1950) and Virginia Mayo in She's Working Her Way Through College (1952). He would be best known for his role of cowboy Will Parker in Oklahoma! (1955), where he would twirl the lasso to the tune of "Kansas City".

After his dancing days ended he turned to directing TV and films, including two Elvis Presley movies, Kissin' Cousins (1964) and Harum Scarum (1965). For television he directed episodes of I Dream of Jeannie (1965), Star Trek (1966), The Rifleman (1958), The Donna Reed Show (1958) and many others.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com> (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (3)

Jean Martin (July 1990 - ?) (divorced)
Marilyn Morgen (7 August 1958 - 1974) (divorced) (2 children)
Miriam Franklin (22 December 1941 - 8 June 1956) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (12)

Children: Chris Nelson, Douglas Nelson, Victoria Gordo (Nelson)
Was romantically involved with Maureen Reagan for several years, although they never married.
Nominated for a 1972 Tony Award for Featured Actor for his performance as Buddy in the original production of Follies
He can be seen as one of the anonymous studio executives in the trailer for the original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street (1947),.
Nominated for a 1972 Tony Award for Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for his performance as Buddy in the original production of "Follies."
First wife Miriam Franklin (nee Frankel) was a specialty film dancer from Broadway ("Panama Hattie"). Married in 1941, she worked in Hollywood while Gene served in the Army. He joined her later and she was instrumental in helping him work up his innovative dance routines on film.
Second wife Marilyn Morgen was a studio secretary he married in 1958. She was 12 years his junior.
Suffered a fractured pelvis in 1957 when a horse fell on him while on film location in Tennessee.
Born Leander Eugene Berg, he went to Superior Court in 1964 to change his legal name to "Gene Nelson" as he wanted to use it for himself and his family.
Made his professional stage debut as a member of the Fanchon and Marco Juvenile Revue at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeeles in 1935. He also studied tap with Nick Castle.
In high school he organized and trained a football cheering squad -- writing songs and cheers as well.
Served as a professor of Theater Arts at San Francisco State University.

Personal Quotes (3)

It's always the dancer who has to work overtime when nobody else does. I would say that 25% of the Broadway shows that have ever been done have been saved by dancers. Just think about it; if not saved, at least heightened.
[Film is] a marvelous medium for dancing. The sky's the limit. You can do wonderfully imaginative things with film. It's like being a magician. In my heyday, I could only do about four pirouettes without starting to fall, but with film, I could do a dozen by cutting and editing. The magic of film is that you can create anything you want.
I was happier directing than I've ever been doing anything else. That form of creativity is very rewarding and I liked it a lot. Both careers were incomplete. I feel unfulfilled in either one. I didn't become the star I wanted to be.

See also

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