Ralph Nelson

Highest Rated: 91% Lilies of the Field (1963)
Lowest Rated: 43% Soldier Blue (1970)
Birthday: Aug 12, 1916
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Born in New York City, Ralph Nelson first became interested in theater while attending Bryant High School, and won a New York Times oratorical contest in 1932. He came to Broadway as an errand boy and ascended to the stage, working with Katharine Cornell, Leslie Howard, and the Lunts during the '30s. He was part of the stage company of Irving Berlin's This Is the Army during World War II, and managed to write an award-winning one-act play while serving as an Army Air Force flight instructor. His first full-length play, The Wind Is Ninety, also won an award from the National Theater Conference. Nelson came to early television as an actor, but quickly moved into the director's chair, and it is estimated that he was director and/or producer for upwards of 1000 presentations during the next decade. He was hired to direct the premiere telecast of Playhouse 90 -- where he earned an Emmy for his direction of Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight (which he later directed on screen), and was also a mainstay of such drama shows as G.E. Theater and Lux Theater. In 1963, Nelson directed the topical drama Lillies of the Field, which earned Sidney Poitier an Oscar as Best Actor. His subsequent films, including Fate Is the Hunter, Soldier in the Rain, and Father Goose, were all successful and remain interesting to look at, despite the fact that only the last has aged well. Nelson moved into serious westerns earlier than almost any other American filmmaker of the 1960's with Duel at Diablo (1966), but his major film of this period was Charly (1968), a drama for which Cliff Robertson won an Oscar. He moved back toward topical political subjects with the racial drama ...Tick...Tick...Tick... (1970) and Soldier Blue (1970), and made the only serious drama ever to come out of Hollywood about South Africa and apartheid, The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), starring Poitier and Michael Caine. Nelson's later films, including A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich (1977) were passionate and finely made, but embraced subjects to which the public in the post-Watergate era failed to connect. He returned to directing for television during the final years of his career, and scored a modest success with Christmas Lillies of the Field (1979), a follow-up to his 1963 hit.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Christmas Lilies of the Field Screenwriter Director Executive Producer Producer 1979
No Score Yet A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich Director 1978
No Score Yet Embryo Director 1976
No Score Yet The Wilby Conspiracy Director 1975
No Score Yet The Wrath of God Producer Director Executed Prisoner Screenwriter 1972
No Score Yet Flight of the Doves Producer Director Screenwriter 1971
No Score Yet Tick...Tick...Tick... Producer Director 1970
43% Soldier Blue Director 1970
63% Charly Convention speaker Director Producer 1968
No Score Yet Counterpoint Director 1967
No Score Yet Duel at Diablo Producer Director 1966
No Score Yet Once a Thief Director 1965
79% Father Goose Director 1964
No Score Yet Fate Is The Hunter Director 1964
No Score Yet Soldier in the Rain Director 1963
91% Lilies of the Field Producer Mr. Ashton Director 1963
91% Requiem for a Heavyweight Director 1962
No Score Yet Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella Director 1957
No Score Yet Cinderella Director 1957
No Score Yet Playhouse 90 Director 1956


No Score Yet Starsky & Hutch
Dr. Green
  • 1978
80% The Twilight Zone
  • 1960


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