Monday, May 28, 2007

Jose Chung, R.I.P.

Actor and Hollywood personality Charles Nelson Reilly died this weekend at age 76. I suppose he's best known for his colorful gameplaying as a regular panelist on MATCH GAME, but he really was a lot more than that. He was a Tony Award winner in 1963 and was nominated for three Emmys for his work on THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, MILLENNIUM and THE DREW CAREY SHOW. His MILLENNIUM episode, "Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'," was a sequel to an X-FILES episode titled "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'," which is one of the most amazing episodes of television I've ever seen, a densely witty sendup of THE X-FILES' storytelling style with a tightly structured Darin Morgan teleplay and amazing character work by Reilly (in a role written for Rip Taylor).

Aside from his fame as a performer on game shows and kiddie shows (like LIDSVILLE and the barely remembered--except by me--UNCLE CROC'S BLOCK with Jonathan Harris), Reilly made quite a living as a personality. He appeared on THE TONIGHT SHOW nearly 100 times, 12 times in 1977 alone, including as a guest host. Reilly was a dying breed, someone who was on television who was genuinely talented and entertaining. He wasn't plugging anything when he walked onto the TONIGHT SHOW stage. He was there just because he was funny and Carson liked him. When is the last time you saw any guest on a talk show who wasn't there to sell their new movie or album? The last time a talk show guest actually came on

Something else Reilly was famous for: commercials. Here's one I remember as a kid, Reilly dressing in a banana suit to sell Bic pens.

HINT: Turn your speakers down. Whomever uploaded this commercial made the audio level way too loud.

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