Monday, May 28, 2007

Good Night, Funny Man... 

We lost a living legend today, a bigger than life comic who was in that class of 50s through 70s TV game show celebrities who seemed to be famous for nothing, but who actually did far more than most people ever think they did. A Tony Award winning Broadway star turned TV actor, from the 80s on, he focused his attention on directing and teaching, as well as performing in a series of one-man shows. Also, along with Paul Lynde and Liberace, he was part of the Triumvirate of "Unopenly Openly Gay" performers at a time when Such Things did not exist. Alone among the three, though, he's the only one who lived long enough to finally officially come out in public, in a different political climate.

Luckily, I'm somewhat able to comment on Reilly through personal experience once removed. I have several friends in the theatre community who knew him, worked with him, and raved about what a gracious, wonderful, giving person he was. For those of us who first met him on Match Game at a time when we were too young to know what "gay" meant (or to think there was anything weird about it), he was the uncle we all wanted to have. Funny, witty, the center of attention without trying to be, and the kind of queen of whom our parents approved.

Good Night, Funny Man. Good Night, Uncle Charlie. You will be sorely missed.

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