Essential Film Stars, Kenneth Nelson

The 1970 gay themed film The Boys in the Band, is a comedic drama set during a man’s 32nd birthday party.  Actor Kenneth Nelson plays Michael, who is hosting the birthday party for his friend Harold.  Among the guests are other homosexual men and one straight man, Alan, who used to be Michael’s college roommate.  Michael is anxious about Alan’s visit, as he is not sure that Alan knows he is gay.  However, Alan desperately needs to speak with Michael about something personal that has been bothering him.  As the party progresses, each of the guests begins to expose a little more of their true selves, for better or for worse.  Michael, however, finds himself most exposed by the end of the party.

The Boys in the Band

Kenneth Nelson was an American actor born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in March of 1930.  By his late teens, Nelson began to appear in several television series, and was eventually cast in a Broadway show.  However, by the 1950’s Nelson was finding it difficult to find work, and almost gave up on acting.

In 1960, however, Nelson was cast in the off-Broadway show The Fantasticks.  An instant success, the show became the world’s longest running musical and placed Nelson on the pathway to greater fame.  Nelson soon found himself cast in a number of theatre productions between New York and London.

In 1968, Nelson took on the lead role in the groundbreaking gay themed theatre production of The Boys in the Band.  Controversial for its time, the production was well-received in New York City, which led to a film adaptation in 1970, starring the same cast.  Nelson continued to perform on Broadway through the 1970’s and 1980’s.  In 1993, however, Nelson passed away in London due to complications from AIDS.

Primarily a Broadway performer, Kenneth Nelson is best remembered for his role as Michael in the 1968 play and 1970 film adaptation, The Boys in the Band.  The gay-themed film dealt with gay life in New York City, a topic that was very taboo for the early 1970’s.  Prior to this groundbreaking role Nelson had appeared in one of the longest running off-Broadway productions to date, The Fantasticks.

After the success of The Boys in the Band, Nelson returned to Broadway to appear in a number of performances, including Lovely Ladies Kind Gentlemen, The Teahouse of the August Moon, and Cole, which played at the Mermaid Theatre in London.

Nelson eventually left the theatre to perform in smaller television and film roles throughout the 1980’s.  By the early 1990’s his health had turned for the worst, ultimately dying in 1993 due to AIDS.

Alexander Ryll
Launched in June 2014, Gay Essential is the world’s largest gay themed film blog promoting new and rare features. I am helped by some amazing writers and we also cover film festivals in the UK and USA. We are 100% independent, without advertising or funding by film distributors. Help to keep Gay Essential independent by purchasing our merchandise GET (Gay Essential Tees)
Alexander Ryll
- 45 mins ago
Alexander Ryll
Alexander Ryll