Charles Nelson Reilly
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The limit to the time we have on earth has made every second we spend on the planet the most valuable commodity we will ever possess. Thus, there is a necessity to achieve something that lives on after our body inevitably passes away. For Charles Nelson Reilly, he managed to accomplish this through his work as a comedian, actor, and teacher.

Out of 76 years spent on earth, Charles Nelson Reilly spent 50 years out of it creating a legacy as an entertainer through works like All Dogs Go to Heaven, Millennium, Hello, Dolly! and a couple more.

When he eventually passed away, his death was a celebration of a life well spent. In this article, we explore further details about how Charles Nelson Reilly spent his life. Read on to learn more.

Charles Nelson Reilly’s Biography

He was born Charles Nelson Reilly II on the 13th of January, 1931 to Signe Elvera Nelson and Charles Joseph Reilly. He was the son of an Irish commercial artist who was a Catholic.

He developed an interest in theater as a child and despite experiencing the unfortunate Hartford Circus Fire that killed 169 people while he was thirteen years old, he never gave up on theater, albeit his fears did express themselves through a phobia for sitting in the audience.

A performer who was born in The Bronx, not much is known about Charles Nelson Reilly’s education history but it is known that he attended the Hartt School of Music, where he studied to become an opera singer. He did not, however, complete his studies.

At the age of 26, Charles Nelson Reilly began his career as a performer and made an appearance in the film, A Face in the Crowd in 1957. Although it was an uncredited role for him, it began a long series of appearances in movies and TV shows, culminating in a total of 68 credits in his filmography, which included onscreen roles like All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Addams Family, Arnie, and several others.

Off-screen, Charles Nelson Reilly performed on stage multiple times on Broadway and Off-Broadway, with some of his works receiving the much-coveted Tony Award. He won the award for the musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and landed a nomination for Hello, Dolly!.

Other than acting roles, Charles Nelson Reilly was a known director, who directed a number of shows, and plays, some of which was on Broadway. He was also a drama teacher at the prestigious HB Studio.

Before and since his passing, his contributions to art, particularly in Hollywood has made him the subject of recognition from other works of art like a sketch on Saturday Night Live and a tribute song by Weird Al Yankovic.

Charles Nelson Reilly’s Net Worth

Over the course of fifty years in Hollywood working in various roles as either an actor, director and drama teacher, Charles Nelson Reilly was able to amass a significant amount of money. Through the commercial successes of his productions and his hefty salaries, he made enough to live a luxurious life and leave a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death.

Was He Gay?

Charles Nelson Reilly
Charles Nelson with his partner, Patrick Hughes II

During the early years of his career, like a lot of actors and actresses today, Charles Nelson Reilly kept a lid on his sexual orientation, leaving men and women to wonder if he was gay or not.

That was until a theatrical one-man show, Save it for the Stage: The Life of Reilly, where he revealed that despite the fact his sexual orientation was not a nationally known fact, he never intentionally kept it a secret.

We further learned that Charles Nelson Reilly was also in a long-term relationship with a fellow member of the industry, Patrick Hughes II who was a dresser and a set director. The two of them co-habited in Charles’ home in Beverly Hills when he was alive.

See Also: Erik Per Sullivan – Bio, Age, Net Worth, Height; Where Is He Now? Is He Dead?


Right into the year of his death, Charles Nelson Reilly continued to work in the entertainment industry, defying the limitations of his age. He toured the country continuing his work as a director for various theatre plays and opera.

Unfortunately, he could only battle for so long and during the filming of one of his last projects, he developed respiratory problems that forced him into retirement.

Shortly after the premiere of his last film, The Life of Reilly, he died of pneumonia on the 25th of May, 2007. Charles Nelson Reilly died at the age of 76 and his body was cremated.

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