The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 
 Gene Nelson

Gene Nelson

Original Name Leander Eugene Berg
Birth
Astoria, Clatsop County, Oregon, USA
Death 16 Sep 1996 (aged 76)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea
Memorial ID 76594220 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Dancer, Actor, Director, Choreographer. Born Leander Eugene Berg in Astoria, Oregon, his family later moved to Santa Monica, California, where, as a boy, he was enrolled in dance classes. In high school, he excelled as a gymnist and ice skater. Gene joined the Sonja Henie Hollywood Ice Revue in 1937 and made his first appearance at Broadway's Center Theater in "It Happened on Ice." He came to the attention of a talent scout at 20th Century Fox and was assigned small parts in "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" and "Gentleman's Agreement." In 1950, he signed a contract with Warner Bros., appearing as a loose limbed athletic dancer in a series of musicals. That year he was featured with June Haver, Gordon MacRae and Debbie Reynolds in "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady," starred with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae in "Tea for Two," and with Day, James Cagney and Virginia Mayo in "West Point Story." The following year he was Day's leading man in "Lullaby of Broadway," and starred with Virginia Mayo and Dennis Morgan in "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine." He was then cast with Mayo and Ronald Reagan in "She's Working Her Way Through College," and again with Mayo and Steve Cochran in "She's Back on Broadway." In 1953, he joined Jane Powell and MacRae in "Three Sailors and a Girl." But he's probably best known for playing high kickin' cowpoke Will Parker in the film version of "Oklahoma!" in 1955, a part remembered especially for his lasso twirling dance to the tune 'Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City.' In 1951, columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote that "Gene Nelson was among the top ten actors in the popularity polls of the fan magazines." At one time, he received more fan mail than any other actor at his studio. Eventually he would be called "the final male dancer-choreographer film star of the 1950s." After his movie career ended, Gene starred on Broadway in 1971's "Follies" doing a flashy 30's-style acrobatic dance solo, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor. Nelson later turned to directing, first in television with episodes of "The Rifleman," "The Donna Reed Show," "I Dream of Jeannie," and "The Mod Squad." Later in feature films, he directed Elvis Presley in "Kissin' Cousins" and "Harum Scarum," as well as "Your Cheatin' Heart," among other musicals. He died at age 76 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Country House and Hospital in Calabasas, California. He had lived in Sherman Oaks, California, and had been suffering from cancer, according to his daughter. Gene was survived by his daughter Victoria Gordo, his sons, Christopher Nelson and Douglas Nelson, and three grandchildren. Upon his request, there was no memorial service. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean off the Santa Monica pier, according to his surviving family.

Bio by: Lon +


Advertisement

See more Nelson memorials in:

Advertisement

Advertisement

How famous was Gene Nelson?

Current rating:

31 votes

Sign-in to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Lon +
  • Added: 16 Sep 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 76594220
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gene Nelson (24 Mar 1920–16 Sep 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 76594220, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.