Lori Nelson

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Lori Nelson
Lori Nelson 1952.jpg
in 1952
BornDixie Kay Nelson
(1933-08-15) August 15, 1933 (age 81)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
EducationCanoga Park High School
OccupationActress, model
Years active1952–2005
Spouse(s)Johnny Mann (m. 1960–73)
Joseph J. Reiner (m. 1983)
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Lori Nelson
Lori Nelson 1952.jpg
in 1952
BornDixie Kay Nelson
(1933-08-15) August 15, 1933 (age 81)
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
EducationCanoga Park High School
OccupationActress, model
Years active1952–2005
Spouse(s)Johnny Mann (m. 1960–73)
Joseph J. Reiner (m. 1983)

Lori Nelson (born August 15, 1933) is an American actress and former model.

Early life[edit]

Born Dixie Kay Nelson in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Nelson is the great grandniece of John J. Pershing. She began her career at the age of 2 appearing in local theater productions. When Nelson was 4 years old, her family moved to Encino, California. At the age of 5, she won the title of Little Miss America. During her childhood, she toured veteran's hospitals entertaining patients. At age 7, Nelson contracted rheumatic fever which left her bedridden for four years. After she recovered, she returned to pageants and won the title of Miss Encino at age 17.[1][2] After graduating from Canoga Park High School, Nelson worked as a model. In 1950, she was signed to a 7-year contract with Universal-International.[3]


Nelson made her film debut in the 1952 Western Bend of the River. Later that year, she appeared as "Rosie Kettle" in the comedy film Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair, followed by a supporting role in Francis Goes to West Point. In 1955, Nelson guest starred in two episodes of It's a Great Life, and reprised her role as "Rosie Kettle" in Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki. That same year, she co-starred in the Creature From the Black Lagoon sequel Revenge of the Creature.

She continued in supporting roles in films including Day the World Ended (1955), and the comedy-Western Pardners, starring Martin and Lewis. In 1956, she won a starring role in the action film Hot Rod Girl opposite Chuck Connors. The following year, she co-starred opposite Mamie Van Doren in Untamed Youth. In November 1957, Nelson co-starred with Van Johnson in the television film The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which aired on NBC as a Thanksgiving Day television special.

In 1957, she was cast in one of the three lead roles in the syndicated sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire. Based on the 1953 film of the same name, Nelson starred as "Greta Hanson", a brainy psychology major who works as an usher on a television game show.[4] The series also starred Barbara Eden and Merry Anders. Nelson opted to leave the series after the first season and her character was written out.

After leaving the series, Nelson continued with guest roles on Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Tab Hunter Show, Bachelor Father, and Armstrong Circle Theatre. She took a ten-year break from acting in 1961 and returned with a guest role in Family Affair in 1971. Nelson has since worked sporadically. She made only three on-screen appearances in the 1990s including a role in the direct-to-video release Mom, Can I Keep Her? (1998). Her last role to date was in the 2005 low-budget science fiction horror film The Naked Monster, in which she reprised her Revenge of the Creature role.

Personal life[edit]


In the early 1950s, Nelson dated actor Tab Hunter. The relationship was fodder for gossip columnists at the time and there was speculation that the two would marry. In his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Hunter admitted that he considered marrying Nelson but was still struggling to come to terms with his true sexuality. While Hunter was dating Nelson, he was also secretly involved with figure skater Ronald Robertson.[5] The two eventually stopped dating but remained friendly. Hunter later cast Nelson in two guest starring roles on his NBC sitcom The Tab Hunter Show.[6]

In 1960, Nelson was briefly engaged to Burt Reynolds.[7]

Marriages and children[edit]

On December 10, 1960, Nelson married composer Johnny Mann in Los Angeles. The couple had two daughters, Lori Susan and Jennifer, before divorcing in April 1973. In April 1983, Nelson married police officer Joseph J. Reiner.[3]


1952Bend of the RiverMarjie Baile
1952Ma and Pa Kettle at the FairRosie Kettle
1952Francis Goes to West PointBarbara Atwood
1953All I DesireLily Murdoch
1953The All AmericanSharon Wallace
1953Walking My Baby Back HomeClaire Millard
1953TumbleweedLauraAlternative title: Three Were Renegades
1954DestryMartha Phillips
1954Underwater!GloriaAlternative title: The Big Rainbow
1955Revenge of the CreatureHelen Dobson
1955Ma and Pa Kettle at WaikikiRosie Kettle
1955Sincerely YoursSarah Cosgrove
1955I Died a Thousand TimesVelma
1955Day the World EndedLouise Maddison
1956MohawkCynthia Stanhope
1956PardnersCarol Kingsley
1956Hot Rod GirlLisa Vernon
1957Untamed YouthJane Lowe
1957Outlaw's SonLila CostainAlternative titles: Gambling Man
His Father's Son
1991Black GauchoAlternative title: Gaúcho Negro
1998Mom, Can I Keep Her?StephanieDirect-to-video release
2005The Naked MonsterDr. Helen Dobson
1955It's a Great LifeVera Thompson2 episodes
1955-1956Climax!Mary2 episodes
1957The 20th Century Fox HourCathy DevlinEpisode: "Threat to a Happy Ending"
1957The Pied Piper of HamelinMaraTelevision film
1957-1958How to Marry a MillionaireGreta Hanson39 episodes
1959Wanted: Dead or AliveWhite Antelope aka Doris AlbrightEpisode: "Bounty for a Bride"
1959The TexasElizabethEpisode: "The Man Hater"
1959Wagon TrainCharity SteeleEpisode: "The Steele Family Story"
1959The MillionaireLorraine DaggettEpisode: "Millionaire Lorraine Daggett"
1959General Electric TheaterSylviaEpisode: "Night Club"
1959SugarfootEllen ConwayEpisode: "The Gaucho"
1959Tales of Wells FargoSusanEpisode: "Relay Station"
1960Lock-UpHoney EvansEpisode: "The Seventh Hour"
1960-1961The Tab Hunter ShowVarious roles2 episodes
1961DanteCynthia RogersEpisode: "Dial D for Dante"
1961LaramieGraceEpisode: "Trigger Point"
1961Bachelor FatherSpring LoringEpisode: "Drop That Calorie"
1961Whispering SmithMrs. Venetia MolloyEpisode: "Double Edge"
1961Armstrong Circle TheatreMrs. Median2 episodes
1971Family AffairDr. Joan BlantonEpisode: "Goodbye, Mrs. Beasley"
1994Secret Sins of the FatherMrs. LieberTelevision film


  1. ^ "Once Rheumatic Heart Victim Chosen as Queen". The Los Angeles Times. February 5, 1956. 
  2. ^ "Kin of Fame General Perishing Wins Title of National Buddy Poppy Girl". Lodi News-Sentinel. May 22, 1956. p. 6. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Lori Nelson Biography". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ Richie, Hope Lawder. "Low On Dough, High On Hope". Reading Eagle (November 16, 1958). Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  5. ^ (Hunter 2005, pp. 75–76)
  6. ^ (Hunter 2005, p. 227)
  7. ^ Hasse, Ed (March 31, 1963). "Candidly, Burt Reynolds". The Miami News. p. 26. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 

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