I noticed on the blog of Sean Bugg (editor of one of Washington's gay weeklies but eminently reasonable and worth reading)¹, that Charles Nelson Reilly died a few days ago. And when he showed up at the gates, God said, "why are you still carrying your (blank)?"
Sorry ... I couldn't resist that, even in death. Seeing Charles and Brett bicker at one another, while Gene, Richard and Fannie were playing lewd instigator was one of the highlights of my youth. I don't know how much older Mr. Bugg is than I (yob: 1966), but I loved game shows too and it never registered on me that Charles or Paul Lynde were "big, flaming homosexuals," Probably because the very concept of homosexuality was alien. I just took them to be funny guys who acted a bit sissy as part of their "act" or "role."
A couple of times, I also saw, in reruns obviously, Charles Nelson Reilly on the old "What's My Line?" in black-and-white with John Charles Daly in the early/mid-60s when CNR was still best known as a Tony-winning Broadway actor. And unfortunately, he was awful. He has all his what Mr. Bugg called "the big flaming" mannerisms -- but is holding them back, wearing the same dinner suit as Bennet Cerf, and desperately and unsuccessfully trying to fit into a show that is so "straight" (unfortunate word choice in this context, but unavoidable). There's probably a lot of symbolic metaphor in there. Understand, I love "What's My Line?" -- it's the greatest game show of its era. But Charles Nelson Reilly on it ... ugh ... looks like Nixon trying to disco.
¹ For example, while Mr. Bugg had a very different reaction than I to the gay march in Moscow, natch, the post also indicates a real sense of perspective about anti-gay sentiment in this country.