A genial, well-respected, all-around "nice guy", the breezily handsome Barry Nelson was born Haakon Robert Nielsen on April 16, 1917, in San Francisco, California, to Betsy (Christophersen) and Trygve "Ted" Nielsen, both Norwegian immigrants. He was raised in nearby Oakland and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941. A talent scout from MGM caught Barry in a college production of "Macbeth" and quickly sized up his potential. Cast in earnest secondary roles including Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) and Dr. Kildare's Victory (1942), he was assigned the lead in the war film A Yank on the Burma Road (1942). Serving in WWII, he appeared in the Moss Hart play "Winged Victory", in what would become his Broadway debut, in 1943 and a year later he appeared as "Corporal Barry Nelson" in the 1944 film version of the play. Barry lost major ground in films during the post-war years, but certainly made up for it on the live stage by appearing in a string of New York successes

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