Nelson Leigh
Tobey in Ma Barker's Killer Brood (1960)
Sydney Talbot Christie

(1905-01-01)January 1, 1905
DiedJuly 3, 1985(1985-07-03) (aged 80)
Years active1943–1974
Lois Cecile Johnson
(m. 1928)

Nelson Leigh (born Sydney Talbot Christie; January 1, 1905 – July 3, 1985) was an American motion picture actor of the 1940s and 1950s.

Early years

Born in Mississippi, Leigh was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Christie.[1] He was a graduate of the University of Southern California, class of 1929.


Leigh appeared on Broadway in Hamlet (1945).[2]

Leigh made over 130 appearances in motion pictures of the 1940s and 1950s, mainly in supporting roles. On stage, Leigh portrayed Jesus Christ for many years in the annual production of the Pilgrimage Play in the Hollywood Pilgrimage Bowl.[3] This typecast Nelson Leigh in religious and medieval roles; in 1949 he played King Arthur in the adventure serial The Adventures of Sir Galahad. That same year he appeared in an early syndicated television film, a notoriously low-budgeted half-hour adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol with Vincent Price as narrator and Taylor Holmes as Ebenezer Scrooge (and the young Jill St. John as one of Bob Cratchit's daughters); Leigh played the Ghost of Christmas Past. He played Jesus Christ in a Christian film The Living Bible, and the Apostle Paul in the "Life of St. Paul" series and again in the "Acts of the Apostles" series. He played priests in various films, including Angels' Alley (1947) with The Bowery Boys, and the western Jesse James vs. the Daltons (1954).[4] He made regular appearances in the Christian television anthology series, This Is the Life, in the recurring role of Pastor Martin. He also appeared in costume dramas.

His calm demeanor often landed him roles as military officers and other authority figures. He appeared in the cult science-fiction movie World Without End as Dr. Gailbraithe. Later in his career he appeared mainly on television, such as in a 1950 episode (#21) of the TV series The Lone Ranger, the 1955 anthology series Police Call [5] and in popular TV shows such as Perry Mason (often seen as a judge). Bonanza, and The F.B.I.


In 1949, the American Association of Religious Film Directors gave Leigh its Best Actor Award for his portrayal of the Christus in The Calling of Matthew.[6] In 1953 he won a "Christian Oscar" from the National Evangelistic Film Foundation for his work in two series, The Living Bible and This Is the Life.[7]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ "Actor's Father Dies Walking to 'Heaven'". The Palm Beach Post. Florida, West Palm Beach. Associated Press. August 30, 1940. p. 16. Retrieved February 16, 2018 – via open access
  2. ^ "("Nelson Leigh" search results)". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on February 16, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "Pilgrimage Play Signs Nelson Leigh for Role". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. June 15, 1945. p. 21. Retrieved July 27, 2018 – via open access
  4. ^ "TV Guide, Nelson Leigh list of films". Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "TV Guide, Police Call episode listing". Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  6. ^ "Filmland". The Minneapolis Star. Minnesota, Minneapolis. February 28, 1949. p. 11. Retrieved February 16, 2018 – via open access
  7. ^ "Tell Winners Of Religious Film Honors". Des Moines Tribune. Iowa, Des Moines. March 17, 1954. p. 9. Retrieved February 16, 2018 – via open access