He was perhaps best known as the high-stepping lasso dancer Will Parker in the 1955 film version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” — but Hollywood and Broadway hoofer Gene Nelson also capered his way down the streets of Hamilton and onto the deck of the luxury liner “Queen of Bermuda” in a 1959 NBC TV special shot here
The show — called “America Pauses In September” — teamed Mr. Nelson with frequent dance partner Pat Horn for the Bermuda segment.
The special, which helped to kick off NBC’s 1959 television season, received lukewarm reviews when it aired — except for the Bermuda routine. “Friday night there was ‘America Pauses In September’ …,” said one critic. “This was notable for Gene Nelson doing a marvellous dance in Bermuda and all over the ship ‘Queen of Bermuda’. The rest seems repetitious — from other shows, other times — and a little slow-paced.”
Born Eugene Berg in Seattle, Washington in 1920, one-time dancer and choreographer Mr. Nelson later turned his hand to directing. He helmed two Elvis Presley moves — “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Harum Scarum” — and episodes of numerous television series including “Rifleman”, “Star Trek” and “Starsky and Hutch.”
He died in 1996.
Clip of Bermuda sequence from TV special “America Pauses In September”