Craig T. Nelson

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Craig T. Nelson
Craig T. Nelson at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Nelson at the Paleyfest 2013 panel for Parenthood
BornCraig Theodore Nelson
(1944-04-04) April 4, 1944 (age 70)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Doria Cook (1987–present)
Robin Nelson (div. 1978)
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Craig T. Nelson
Craig T. Nelson at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Nelson at the Paleyfest 2013 panel for Parenthood
BornCraig Theodore Nelson
(1944-04-04) April 4, 1944 (age 70)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Doria Cook (1987–present)
Robin Nelson (div. 1978)

Craig Theodore Nelson[1] (born April 4, 1944) is an American actor. He is best known for his Emmy-winning role as Hayden Fox on the TV series Coach, Deputy Ward Wilson in the 1980 film Stir Crazy, Steven Freeling in the 1982 film Poltergeist, the Warden in My Name is Earl, and Mr. Incredible in the 2004 film The Incredibles. He currently stars in the TV series Parenthood.

Early life[edit]

Nelson was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Vera Margaret (née Spindler), a dancer, and businessman Armand Gilbert Nelson. Nelson has a brown belt in karate.[2] In high school, Nelson was the quarterback of the football team and also played baseball. He attended Central Washington University studying criminology as he wanted to work for the CIA. He dropped out and went to Yakima Valley Community College to study English literature, but he dropped out again. He spent a semester abroad studying communications at Northfielde Universität Herisau in Switzerland. He eventually received a drama scholarship to the University of Arizona. Nelson did summer stock theatre in Cripple Creek, Colorado. He then moved to the west, where he worked as a security guard at a soap factory in the day and took acting classes at night.[3]


Nelson began his show business career as a comedian. He was an early member of The Groundlings comedy troupe.[4] Nelson, Barry Levinson, and Rudy De Luca formed their own comedy team and were regular performers at The Comedy Store.[1] In 1973, Nelson left the comedy world, explaining "the standup comedy life was pretty unfulfilling for me"[3] and he settled in Mount Shasta where there was no electricity and no running water; "it was contentment, The Waltons, he said.[5] Nelson had different jobs during that time including janitor, plumber, carpenter, surveyor, and teacher. He returned to acting five years later.[3]

Because Craig Richard Nelson was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild, he registered as Craig T. Nelson.

He has appeared in numerous motion pictures (most notably the Poltergeist series) and had featured roles in five television shows (Coach, Call to Glory, The District, My Name Is Earl, and Parenthood). Coach ran from 1989 to 1997, with Nelson starring as college football coach Hayden Fox.

He voiced Mr. Incredible in the 2004 animated film The Incredibles.

During the early 1990s, he made a guest appearance in the music video for country singer Garth Brooks's song "We Shall Be Free". Nelson made a three-episode guest appearance on CSI: NY as a "nemesis" to Gary Sinise’s Taylor.[6]

His most recent films include 2009's The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds' skeptical father and 2010's The Company Men as a greedy CEO. Since 2010, he has starred in the television show Parenthood as Zeek Braverman, the family patriarch.

Personal life[edit]

Nelson discussed in an interview with Glenn Beck that he had been on welfare and collected food stamps. "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No."[7]

Nelson has three children from previous marriage to Robin McCarthy: Tiffany, Chris and Noah. Chris is a science fiction writer.[8] Noah is also a writer; he wrote for The District and CSI: NY.[9] Noah was married to actress Ashley Jones in 2003. The couple divorced in 2009.

His second wife Doria Cook Nelson is a freelance writer, president of a martial arts association, karate instructor and tai chi teacher.[8]

Nelson is a motorsports fan and an avid racer. He first participated in the 1991 Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix[8] and finished third. In 1994, Craig founded Screaming Eagles Racing with John Christie and entered and drove a Toyota-engined Spice SE90 in the IMSA 1994 WSC, a Lexus-engined Spice SE90 in 1995 and a Ford-engined Riley & Scott MkIII in the 1996 and 1997 championships.


Nelson in 2004
1971The Return of Count YorgaSgt. O'Connor
1973The Mary Tyler Moore ShowCharlieEpisode: "Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady"
1974Flesh GordonThe MonsterUncredited
1979...And Justice for AllFrank Bowers
1980Stir CrazyDeputy Ward Wilson
1980Where the Buffalo RoamCop on Stand
1980Private BenjaminCapt. William Woodbridge
1980The White ShadowFather PhilEpisode: "A Christmas Story"
1982Chicago StoryKenneth A. Dutton13 episodes
1982PoltergeistSteven Freeling
1983Man, Woman and ChildBernie Ackerman
1983All the Right MovesNickerson
1983The Osterman WeekendBernard Osterman
1984–1985Call to GloryCol. Raynor Sarnac23 episodes
1984The Killing FieldsMajor Reeves
1986Alex: The Life of a ChildFrank Deford
1986Poltergeist II: The Other SideSteven Freeling
1986The Ted Kennedy Jr. StorySenator Edward KennedyTelevision movie
1989Red Riding HoodSir Godfrey/Percival
1988Action JacksonPeter Dellaplane
1989Born on the Fourth of JulyMarine Officer
1989–1997CoachCoach Hayden Fox199 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1992–95)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1990–91)
1989Turner & HoochChief Howard Hyde
1989Troop Beverly HillsFred Nefler
1991The Josephine Baker StoryWalter WinchellTelevision movie
1993The Fire Next TimeDrew MorganTelevision movie
1994Ride with the WindFrank ShelbyTelevision movie
1996Ghosts of MississippiEd Peters
1996I'm Not RappaportThe Cowboy
1997The Devil's AdvocateAlexander Cullen
1997Wag the DogSenator John NealUncredited
1998CreatureDr. Simon ChaseTelevision movie
2000The SkullsLitten Mandrake
2000Dirty PicturesSimon LeisTelevision movie
2001All Over AgainCole Twain
2000–2004The DistrictChief Jack Mannion89 episodes
Nominated—Prism Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
2004The IncrediblesBob Parr/Mr. Incredible
2005The Family StoneKelly StoneNominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
2007Blades of GloryCoach
2007My Name Is EarlWarden Jerry Hazelwood4 episodes
2009The ProposalJoe Paxton
2008–2009CSI: NYRobert Dunbrook3 episodes
2009MonkJudge Ethan Rickover2 episodes
2010–presentParenthoodZeek BravermanMain Cast
80 Episodes
Prism Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series
2010The Company MenJames Salinger
2011Soul SurferDr. Robinsky
2013Hawaii Five-0Tyler Cain'He welo 'oihana'
2015Get HardFilming


  1. ^ a b Harris, Will (2013-09-26). "Craig T. Nelson on comedy, chemistry, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-09-06. I’ve never, ever been Craig Richard Nelson. Ever! My birth certificate says Craig Theodore. 
  2. ^ Craig T. Nelson - Biography
  3. ^ a b c Logan, Joe (January 8, 1990). "Craig T. Nelson's Slow Path To Stardom The Star Of Abc's "Coach\" Twice Flunked Out Of College. For A While, He Was A Father On Welfare. Now His Film Credits Include \"silkwood\" And \"poltergeist," And Tonight He's In An Nbc Mini-series.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ "History: In the Beginning". The Groundlings. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ Craig T. Nelson to Guest on CSI: NY" TV Guide. December 3, 2008. Retrieved on December 5, 2008.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Knutzen, Eirik (October 1, 2000). "Craig T. Nelson Is D.c.'s Top Cop". The Morning Call. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Getlen, Larry (September 23, 2010). "Life Lessons". AARP. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 

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