Ed Nelson, Actor On TV's 'Peyton Place', Dies At 85


Ed Nelson, a star of the 1960s primetime soap “Peyton Place” and an actor with almost 200 credits, mostly in television, died on Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. He was 85.

Nelson had most recently appeared in the 2003 courtroom thriller “Runaway Jury,” starring Gene Hackman. He had a more significant role as General Sherman in the 1998 Jackie Chan vehicle “Who Am I.”

On “Peyton Place,” he played Dr. Michael Rossi during the entire five-year run of the series — 436 episodes. He returned in 1985 for reunion telepic “Peyton Place: The Next Generation.”

But Nelson was already a TV veteran by the time he was cast on “Peyton Place” in 1964. After a string of small parts in Roger Corman B movies during the mid to late ’50s, he began guesting on Westerns such as “Zane Grey Theater,” “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “The Rifleman,” “Maverick,” “Rawhide” and “Gunsmoke” plus other series such as “Twilight Zone,” “The Untouchables,” “The Fugitive” and “Dr. Kildare.”

Nelson appeared with James Shigeta and Martin Sheen in what would become a famous episode of “The Outer Limits” in which astronauts are experimented upon by aliens.

He had uncredited roles in the films “Elmer Gantry” and “Judgement at Nuremberg.”

After “Peyton Place,” Nelson starred in the brief series “The Silent Force” with Lynda Day George.

During the 1970s he guested on every conceivable series, including “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Cannon,” “Night Gallery,” “Mod Squad,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Kung Fu,” “Ironside” and “Police Woman.”

He appeared in the film “Airport ’75” as Major John Alexander and in 1976 war epic “Midway” as Admiral Harry Pearson. He also appeared in kidpic “For the Love of Benji.”

Credits during the ’80s include “Lou Grant,” “Quincy M.E.,” “The Fall Guy,” “Dynasty,” “MacGyver” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

Nelson played President Harry S Truman in the 1980 telepic “Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb,” in the 1989 feature “Brenda Starr,” starring Brooke Shields, and onstage in “Give ‘em Hell Harry!”

He also appeared in 1986 feature comedy “Police Academy 3: Back in Training.”

Edwin Stafford Nelson was born in New Orleans. He studied at Tulane U. for two years before heading off to New York to start his acting career. Later he returned to complete his degree at Tulane.

Nelson is survived by Patricia, his wife of 63 years; four daughters; two sons; 14 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.