All Reilled Up

There have been many influential men throughout our country’s illustrious history: presidents, arbiters of peace, technological masterminds, but few have influenced our lives with the same impact as one man. His name? I’ll give you all three: Charles Nelson Reilly.

While he sashayed into our world through off-Broadway stages, he’s inevitably most notorious for his squirrelly shtick on game shows like Match Game and I’ve Got a Secret. Ahh, it was a beautiful time in TV land; Reilly held court across the dial. But the world didn’t start out pointed towards polyester shirts, oversized glasses, and male game show groupies, a fact that’s made evident in the new documentary called -- you guessed it -- the Life of Reilly.

He grew up feeling isolated. He was poor, gay, living in the Bronx, had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and a penchant for the limelight -- but eventually those signature chuckles and eyebrow wiggles became his ticket to bigger things. Before passing away, Reilly performed a one-man show about the whole kit n’ caboodle; a film crew captured his final performance (in 2004) for this documentary, which opens Friday at Gateway Cinema (1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets range $6.75 to $8.50.
Dec. 14-21, 2007

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Jamie Laughlin