Barry Nelson (born April 16, 1920) is an American actor.
Born Robert Haakon Nielson in San Francisco, California, he began acting in school at age 15, playing an 80 year old man. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941 and, because of his theatrical efforts in school, was almost immediately signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Nelson made his screen debut in the role as Paul Clark in Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, with Donna Reed. He followed that with his role as Lew Rankin in the film noir crime/drama Johnny Eager (1942) starring Robert Taylor and Lana Turner.
During his military service in WWII, Nelson debuted on the Broadway stage in one of the leading roles, Bobby Grills, in Moss Hart's play Winged Victory (1943). His next Broadway appearance was as Peter Sloan in Hart's Light Up the Sky (1948), which was a first-rate success.
Another Broadway role, that of Gus Hammer in The Rat Race (1949), kept Nelson away the movies again, but after it closed he starred in the dual roles as Chick Graham and Bert Rand in The Man with My Face (1951), which was produced by Ed Gardner of radio fame.
Nelson has had two wives, actress Teresa Celli (married February 19, 1951-divorced) and Nansilee Hoy (married November 12, 1992-present).
He was the first actor (and, to date, the only American) to play James Bond on screen, in an adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale on the TV anthology series Climax! (1954). Reportedly this was considered a pilot for a possible James Bond television series, though it's not known if Nelson intended to continue playing the character.
The many other TV shows Nelson made guest appearances on include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone and Dr. Kildare. He appeared regularly on TV in the 1960s. He was one of the What's My Line? Mystery Guests and later served as a guest panelist on that popular CBS quiz show.
He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Dan Connors in The Act (1977) with Liza Minnelli. His final appearance on Broadway was as Julian Marsh in 42nd Street (1986).
Barry Nelson and his second wife currently divide their time between homes in New York and France.