The man from Louisiana was an authentic presence in virtually every TV western of the late 50's and early 60's (The Rebel, Paladin, Black Saddle, The Tall Man, Maverick, Wagon Train, Laramie, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman). He also turned up in The Twilight Zone,Outer Limits, Thriller, The Eleventh Hour and Perry Mason. His only major starring role was as Dr. Rossi in the night time soap opera "Peyton Place," which is now mostly known either for its theme song, or its reference in the country hit "Harper Valley P.T.A." At the time, it was a big deal for a "woman's" show about dreary romances and scandals to have such a high profile.
Nelson's profile sank after the show left the air in 1969, and only his more ardent fans recall that he appeared in daytime soap operas, had a local talk show, and toured as President Truman in a one-man show originated by James Whitmore. A bright guy, he didn't have to suffer the indignity of waiting and waiting for a guest spot on a TV show…he became the mayor of San Dimas, California, and at 71 graduated from Tulane University. He spent his retirement years at home in Greensboro, North Carolina.
"Peyton Place," which launched the careers of Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal, is now pretty much forgotten. In its day, not only was it a hot show that would spawn a variety of "chick lit" romance series, even the sweetly sappy theme song was popular, with or without the lyrics. You get either or both…the reliable Frank Chacksfield of Project 4 fame or the ubiquitous Vikki Carr.
PEYTON PLACE INSTRUMENTAL BY FRANK CHACKSFIELD
FOR THOSE WHO ARE YOUNG Vikki Car