'Peyton Place' Star Ed Nelson Dead at 85

Actor Ed Nelson died on Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. He was 85.

Nelson had a prominent role on ABC primetime soap opera Peyton Place as Michael Rossi, a New York doctor who sets up practice in the fictional town and is quickly caught up in its romantic intrigues. Nelson appeared in 436 episodes of the show, which ran from 1964 to 1969 and was seen three times a week at its peak. He also appeared in a 1977 television movie spinoff, Murder in Peyton Place, as well as 1985's Peyton Place: The Next Generation.

Edwin Stafford Nelson was born on December 21, 1928, in New Orleans. He attended Tulane University there but left after two years to study acting in New York City. He returned to New Orleans to work in local television before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He served in the Navy as a radioman on the light cruiser Dayton.

In 1972 he completed his college degree at Tulane.

Nelson's career began in earnest in the mid-1950s, when he appeared in low-budget films like Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters. He went on to appear in scores of popular television shows including Have Gun — Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Dallas, The Untouchables, The Twilight Zone, The Rockford Files and Quincy, M.E.

He also played Senator Mark Denning on the 1980s CBS daytime soap opera Capitol.

His last screen appearance was in a small role in the 2003 film Runaway Jury, with John Cusack, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman.

A stage actor as well, Nelson played President Harry S. Truman in a nationally touring production of “Give ’Em Hell, Harry!”

Nelson, who lived in Greensboro and was recently in hospice care, is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Patricia Miller; his daughters, Cynthia Borders, Beth Moore, Mary Sanders and Ann Bochenski; his sons, Gregory and Christopher; 14 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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