Ralph Nelson (August 12, 1916 – December 21, 1987) was an American film and television director, producer, writer, and actor. He was best known for directing ''Lilies of the Field'' (1963), ''Father Goose'' (1964), and ''Charly'' (1968), films which won Academy Awards.

Life and career

Nelson was born in Long Island City, New York. He served in the Army Air Corps as a flight instructor in World War II. Before the war ended, he had a play on Broadway: "The Wind Is Ninety" ran from June to September 1945. Kirk Douglas was in the cast. Nelson directed the acclaimed episode "A World of His Own" of ''The Twilight Zone'' (he should ''not'' be confused with ''The Twilight Zone's'' production manager, Ralph ''W.'' Nelson). He also directed both the television and film versions of Rod Serling's ''Requiem for a Heavyweight.'' He directed ''Charly,'' the 1968 film version of ''Flowers for Algernon,'' for which Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award, as well as several racially provocative films in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the Academy Award-winning ''Lilies of the Field,'' ''...tick...tick...tick...'', ''Christmas Lilies of the Field,'' ''The Wilby Conspiracy,'' and ''Soldier Blue.'' The starring role in "Lilies" led to Sidney Poitier winning the Academy Award for Best Actor. Nelson also directed the Cary Grant comedy ''Father Goose,'' the offbeat ''Soldier in the Rain'' with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen, the crime story ''Once a Thief,'' and Rita Hayworth's last film, ''The Wrath of God.'' He both directed, and briefly appeared in, ''Duel at Diablo,'' starring James Garner and Sidney Poitier. Nelson's other credits include several episodes of TV's ''Starsky & Hutch,'' the '70s camp horror classic ''Embryo,'' and ''A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich.'' A television drama about mounting the live show of ''Requiem for a Heavyweight'' called ''The Man in the Funny Suit'' was made in 1960, with Nelson both writing and directing. Nelson, Serling, Red Skelton, Keenan Wynn and Ed Wynn appeared in it as themselves. He returned to TV in the late 1970s with a string of TV movies, including a sequel to ''Lilies of the Field'' called Christmas Lilies of the Field which starred Billy Dee Williams, Maria Schell, and Fay Hauser.


He died in 1987 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71.



;Film * ''Requiem for a Heavyweight'' (1962) * ''Lilies of the Field'' (1963) * ''Soldier in the Rain'' (1963) * ''Fate Is the Hunter'' (1964) * ''Father Goose'' (1964) * ''Once a Thief'' (1965) * ''Duel at Diablo'' (1966) * ''Counterpoint'' (1968) * ''Charly'' (1968) * ''...tick...tick...tick...'' (1970) * ''Soldier Blue'' (1970) * ''Flight of the Doves'' (1971) * ''The Wrath of God'' (1972) * ''The Wilby Conspiracy'' (1975) * ''Embryo'' (1976) * ''A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich'' (1978) ;Television * ''Playhouse 90'' - "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956) * ''Blood Money'' (1957) * ''A World of His Own'' (1960) * ''The Farmer's Daughter'' (1963) * ''The Man Who Bought Paradise'' (1965) * ''Lady of the House'' (1978) * ''Because He's My Friend'' (1978) * ''Christmas Lilies of the Field'' (1979) * ''You Can't Go Home Again'' (1979)


* ''Stump Run'' (1959) * ''Lilies of the Field'' (1963) - Mr. Ashton (uncredited) * ''Duel at Diablo'' (1966) - Col. Foster * ''Counterpoint'' (1968) - Belgian Officer (uncredited) * ''Charly'' (1968) - Convention Speaker (uncredited) * ''...tick...tick...tick...'' (1970) - New York driver caught in speed trap (uncredited) * ''Soldier Blue'' (1970) - Agent Long * ''The Wrath of God'' (1972) - Executed Prisoner (uncredited)


External links

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1953 Time Magazine
{{DEFAULTSORT:Nelson, Ralph Category:1916 births Category:1987 deaths Category:American male film actors Category:American film directors Category:Film producers from New York (state) Category:American male television actors Category:American male screenwriters Category:Emmy Award winners Category:Male actors from New York City Category:20th-century American male actors Category:20th-century American businesspeople Category:Screenwriters from New York (state) Category:People from Long Island City, Queens Category:20th-century American male writers Category:20th-century American screenwriters