Gary Nelson, Freaky Friday and The Black Hole Director, Dead at 87

Gary Nelson, the director behind hit 1970s Disney films Freaky Friday and The Black Hole, among others, passed away earlier this year. The Hollywood Reporter brings confirmation on Nelson's death, which actually occurred back on May 25 though no news of it happening over the summer was ever revealed. Nelson's son Garrett confirmed the news, revealing that Gary passed in Las Vegas of natural causes, he was 87 at the time of his death. He was survived by his sons Garrett and Blue, and was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Meredith.

Before he became a wunderkind for Disney, Gary Nelson would cut his teeth directing with work as an AD, later transitioning to helming television shows including Have Gun – Will Travel, The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, The Doris Day Show, and others. Nelson would go on to become the "in house" director for his TV series Get Smart, directing 23 episodes of the show across its five seasons.

The projects Nelson directed that many are familiar with are perhaps his Disney work including the original Freak Friday starring Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster as mother and daughter that swap bodies and 1979's The Black Hole, a cult sci-fi hit that starred Anthony Perkins and Robert Forster. His work with Disney didn't end there though as he would also direct eight episodes of The Magical World of Disney. Nelson's first feature films as a director would be the westerns Molly and Lawless John and Santee in the early 1970s. 

Though he had over a hundred credits to his name, Nelson would only be nominated for an award with one project, the 1977 TV mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors, a series inspired by the Nixon White House. Nelson would be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in the  Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series category for his work on the show.

Nelson's credits were extensive however with stints directing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, McClain's Law, Love, American Style, McMillan & Wife, Nanny and the Professor, and Gomer Pyle: USMC. His final directing work was for the Kyle Chandler TV series Early Edition in the later 90s/early 2000s, for which he directed 19 episodes.