Frank Nelson

Show Count: 157
Series Count: 9
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Old Time Radio
Born: May 6, 1911, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Died: September 12, 1986, Hollywood, California, USA

Frank Brandon Nelson (May 6, 1911 – September 12, 1986) was an American comedic actor best known for playing put-uponfoils on radio and television and his "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss?" catchphrase. He made numerous guest appearances on television shows, including The Jack Benny Program, I Love Lucy, The Real McCoys, and Sanford and Son. Over the length of his career, he made more than ten thousand television appearances.

Life and career 

Nelson began his entertainment career in radio and later moved into television and movies. In 1926, at age 15, Nelson played the role of a 30-year-old man in a radio series broadcast from the then-5,000-watt KOA (AM) radio station serving the Denver, Coloradomarket. In 1929, Nelson moved to Hollywood, California and worked in local radio dramatic shows, usually playing the leading man. The first sponsored radio show he appeared in to reach a national market was "Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel," asituation comedy radio show airing from November 28, 1932, and ending May 22, 1933, starring two of the Marx Brothers, Grouchoand Chico, and written primarily by Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman.

Nelson first found fame as the put-upon foil to Jack Benny on Benny's radio show during the 1940s and 1950s. Nelson typically portrayed a sales clerk or customer service worker. For example, needing airline tickets, Benny would call the ticket agent, "Oh Mister? Mister?" Nelson's appearance would begin with his back to the camera, then he would turn and deliver his catchphrase, a bellowed "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss?". The two men would banter, with Nelson gleefully delivering one-liners such as "Is that a hairpiece or did someone plant moss on your head?" and sarcastic responses like "Do I work at this airport? No, I'm a 747 with a moustache."

Nelson performed on a number of Hollywood-based radio shows during this time, including Fibber McGee and Molly, and did radio work well into the late 1950s, on the few shows that remained on the air, including dramatic roles on such programs as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

Nelson continued to appear on Benny's television show in 1950, doing the same "rude clerk" shtick. His other catchphrase, that would be worked into every routine, would have Benny asking something mundane, such as, "Do these shirts come in a medium?" and Frank would bellow, "Oo-oo-oo-ooh, DO they!" He also appeared on several other radio programs. Nelson's sudden appearances usually led to spontaneous laughter or applause on the part of the audience.

After Jack Benny, Nelson continued to work in sitcoms in similar roles, most notably in The Hank McCune Show and I Love Lucy. In fact, Nelson appeared as various characters during all seasons of I Love Lucy before beginning the recurring role as the character Ralph Ramsey after the Ricardos moved to Westport, Connecticut in 1957. He further appeared in The Addams Family in the 1960s; and Sanford and Son during the 1970s. In the 1960s, Nelson voiced Mr. Cow in the Tootsie Pop commercial once again using his "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss?" catchphrase.

Towards the end of his life, Nelson enjoyed some newfound stardom among a new generation of fans. In 1981, he did a string of commercials for McDonald's doing his trademark "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss?" catchphrase, as part of the fast-food chain's highly successful "You Deserve a Break Today" sweepstakes promotional campaign, where he played an over-the-top passport agent. He also did a cameo appearance on the December 5, 1981 episode of Saturday Night Live as a newsstand vendor when Tim Curry was the guest host. Garfield in Paradise in 1986 was the last recorded time he used his signature phrase.

In addition to his onscreen work, Nelson was an in-demand voiceover artist for animated cartoons, appearing on The Flintstones, The Jetsons and as Governor Wetworth on The Snorks among other programs. He also served as the head of AFTRA (a performers union) between 1954 and 1957.

Nelson was not as prolific in motion pictures, but he did appear occasionally in variations of his oily clerk characterization. One of his larger roles is in Down Memory Lane (1949), in which he plays the apoplectic manager of a TV station. He also appears memorably in So You Want to Know Your Relatives, a Joe McDoakes spoof of This Is Your Life; Nelson plays the master of ceremonies, happily ushering unsavory guests onstage.

After a years-long battle with cancer, Nelson died on September 12, 1986 in Hollywood and was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, where he shares a columbarium niche with his friend and fellow radio actor, Hanley Stafford, both men having been married to actress Veola Vonn.


His distinctive appearance and manner of saying "Y-e-e-e-s?" has been parodied frequently in film and television, most notably with the character on The Simpsons called the "Frank Nelson Type" (aka "Yes Guy"). Nelson's appearance and mannerisms were also parodied multiple times in the Disney Afternoon series TaleSpin, with Nelson represented by a large hippopotamus in a suit. The Daily Show often features a Nelson impression by host Jon Stewart after a setup clip, often "Yeeesss?" or "Go onnnnnnn..." followed by another clip which serves as the punchline.

Jack Benny co-star and cartoon voice artist Mel Blanc would sometimes pay homage to Nelson by working a "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss" into one of his voice portrayals. Other performers have done the same. For example, in an episode of the sitcom Three's Company ("Doctor In The House", Season 6), Ralph Furley (Don Knotts) consults with a doctor who is actually Jack Tripper (John Ritter) disguised in a surgeon's mask. When Furley calls out to the doctor in his office, Jack responds with Nelson's famous "Y-e-e-e-s?" catchphrase. Jack also responds with a "EEE-Yeeeeeeeeesssss" to a caller looking to make a reservation at Jack's new restaurant in the Season 7 episode "Opening Night".

Source: Wikipedia

Abbott & Costello ShowAbbott & Costello Show
Show Count: 84
Broadcast History: 3 July 1940 to 26 March 1949
Sponsor: Camel Cigarettes
Cast: Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson, Sid Fields, Iris Adrian, Martha Wentworth, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton
Producer: Martin Gosch
After working as Fred Allen's summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.
Baby Snooks ShowBaby Snooks Show
Show Count: 160
Broadcast History: 29 February 1936 to 6 June 1936, 23 December 1937 to 25 July 1940, 5 September 1940 to 15 June 1944, 17 September 1944 to 28 May 1948, and 8 November 1949 to 22 May 1951
Cast: Lois Corbett, Fanny Brice, Hanley Stafford, Lalive Brownell, Arlene Harris, Leone Ledoux, Alan Reed, Danny Thomas, Charlie Cantor, Ken Christy, Irene Tedrow, Frank Nelson, Ben Alexander, Lillian Randolph, Elvia Allman, Earl Lee, Sara Berner, Anne Whitfield
Director: Mann Holiner, Al Kaye, Ted Bliss, Walter Bunker, Arthur Stander
Producer: Mann Holiner, Al Kaye, Ted Bliss, Walter Bunker, Arthur Stander
Show Count: 44
Broadcast History: 3 July 1939 to 26 June 1944, 21 July 1944 to 1 September 1944, 13 August 1944 to 26 September 1948, 6 October 1948 to 29 June 1949 and 6 October 1949 to 6 July 1950
Cast: Penny Singleton, Ann Rutherford, Alice White, Patricia Vann Cleve, Arthur Lake, Leone Ledoux, Tommy Cook, Larry Sims, Bobby Ellis, Jeffrey Silver, Marlene Aames, Norma Jean Nilsson, Joan Rae, Hanley Stafford, Elvia Allman, Frank Nelson, Arthur Q. Bryan, Harry Lang, Dix Davis, Mary Jane Croft, Veola Vonn, Lurene Tuttle, Rosemary DeCamp, Ed MacDonald, Hans Conried
Producer: Ashmead Scott
Cinnamon Bear, TheCinnamon Bear, The
Show Count: 28
Broadcast History: 1937 to 1962
Cast: Martha Wentworth, Buddy Duncan, Barbara Jean Wong, Verna Felton, Joseph Kearns, Hanley Stafford, Howard McNear, Slim Pickins, Elvia Allman, Elliott Lewis, Lou Merrill, Frank Nelson, Cy Kendall, Gale Gordon, Ted Osborne, Joe Du Val, Dorothy Scott, Ed Max, Rosa Barcelo, Lindsay MacHarrie, Bud Hiestand
Director: Lindsay MacHarrie
A wonderful serial that was enjoyed annually by young children (at adults) in the period leading up to Christmas.
Jeff Regan, InvestigatorJeff Regan, Investigator
Show Count: 45
Broadcast History: 10 July 1948 to 18 December 1948, and 5 October 1949 to 27 August 1950
Cast: Jack Webb, Wilms Herbert, Frank Graham, Frank Nelson
Producer: Sterling Tracy
Broadcast: 23rd November 1950
Added: Dec 03 2011
Broadcast: 11th September 1949
Added: Sep 13 2009
Broadcast: 13th April 1950
Added: Apr 25 2008
Broadcast: January 5, 1950
Added: Jan 03 2017
Broadcast: September 13, 1953
Added: Sep 18 2020
Broadcast: April 26, 1954
Added: Feb 09 2015
Broadcast: December 9, 1949
Added: Jul 27 2014
Broadcast: 8th February 1937
Added: Feb 20 2010
Broadcast: 22nd March 1954
Added: Jun 07 2009
Broadcast: 19th October 1950
Added: Oct 17 2011
Broadcast: February 5, 1945
Added: Jun 24 2014
Broadcast: 23rd March 1950
Added: May 27 2010
Broadcast: November 18, 1950
Added: Nov 14 2014
Broadcast: 17th October 1954
Added: Nov 17 2011
Broadcast: 1st September 1957
Added: Sep 24 2010
Broadcast: 19th October 1952
Added: Oct 17 2010
Broadcast: 12th December 1954
Added: Dec 17 2012
Broadcast: November 25, 1949
Added: Jun 22 2014
Broadcast: 16th December 1956
Added: Dec 20 2010
Broadcast: June 2, 1950
Added: Jul 14 2020
Broadcast: 13th October 1957
Added: Oct 15 2010
Broadcast: April 27, 1954
Added: Apr 23 2015