Kenneth Nelson

Kenneth Nelson

Infobox actor

caption =
birthdate = birth date|1930|3|24
birthplace = Rocky Mount, North Carolina, United States
deathdate = Death date and age|1993|10|7|1930|3|24
deathplace = London, England

Kenneth Nelson (March 24, 1930October 7, 1993) was an American actor.

Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Nelson appeared in several television series in the late 1940s, "Captain Video and His Video Rangers" and "The Aldrich Family" among them. He was cast in his first Broadway show, "Seventeen (musical)|Seventeen", a musical adaptation of the Booth Tarkington novel that opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on June 21, 1951 and ran 182 performances.

Unfortunately, he found little work for the remainder of the decade, but his patience paid off when in 1960 he was cast in a little off-Broadway show entitled "The Fantasticks" which, at 17,162 performances, eventually became the world's longest-running musical. Good notices eventually opened other doors, and in 1962 he was hired to understudy Anthony Newley in "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off" when it transferred from the West End, eventually assuming the lead role when the star departed the show. From there he went to another London import, "Half a Sixpence", in 1965.

In 1968, he accepted the lead in the controversial and groundbreaking off-Broadway production of "The Boys in the Band", the first play to explore the milieu of gay life in New York City in a graphically frank manner. He, together with the rest of the cast, went on to appear in the 1970 film version directed by William Friedkin.

1970 also saw him return to Broadway in the lead role in "Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen", a musical adaptation of "The Teahouse of the August Moon". It was a critical and commercial disaster, closing after only 19 performances.

The rest of his career was spent playing small roles on television and in movies of little distinction. He eventually moved to England, later explaining, "I moved to England to escape theatrical stereotypes. Personally, I've enjoyed the change. It's a cultural thing. Here, people don't think Rimbaud is a Sylvester Stallone character, or that matricide is when you kill yourself in bed ... and I got tired of a culture where a John Travolta can be considered a real actor, never mind some kind of a ... sex symbol! England to me is more real." [imdb name|0625522]

Nelson died in 1993 of AIDS-related complications in London, England.


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