The next time a TV show includes a gay character and you yawn a disinterested “whatever” at the screen, remember the late, extremely cool Charles Nelson Reilly. Along with fellow comedic actor Paul Lynde, Reilly helped pave that road with a bold and identifiable—yet determinedly unique—gay manner. They milked more gay humor from inside the closet than most performers have from outside it.
When Reilly wasn’t busy turning the ’70s game show Match Game into an innuendo-laced afternoon shockwave with BFF Brett Somers, the Tony winner queered up late-night chatfests like The Tonight Show, as well as kids’ programs including Lidsville, Uncle Croc’s Block, Goof Troop and, in his later years, SpongeBob SquarePants. (Sci-fi fans may remember him as eccentric writer Jose Chung on The X-Files and Millennium.)
For a truly definitive Reilly experience, watch this commercial for Bic Banana Ink Crayons on repeat until you memorize the lyrics about markers whose “colors are so bright and gay” and can successfully draw a hat on a banana.
Joy can come from the most unexpected places.