Nell Carter


While appearing on a radio show earlier today to promote “The Rocket That Fell to Earth,” I was confronted with a question that caught me off guard: Why do you have a picture of Nell Carter on your website?

Prepared to talk all things Roger Clemens, my brain froze: Why did I have a picture of Nell Carter on my website? And then I remembered the answer.

I have a picture of Nell Carter on my website because Nell Carter, dead or alive, kicks ass. When I was but a wee boy on the tough streets of Mahopac, N.Y., she brought hope into my otherwise sad, dreary life. Once a week, I could turn on the television and hear Nell’s marvelous voice via the “Gimme a Break” theme song. (This version is even better) That alone would lift me out of the Mahopac projects and into a world of love and joy. Toss in those ragamuffin Lawrence boys and, well, I was in heaven. (Was Nell Harper a good actress? I would argue yes, but the fact that her character on “Gimme a Break” was also named Nell leads me to believe they had questions about her ability).

I would love to make my Top 10 Nell Carter Moments List, but, well, I’ve only got one: In a very special episode of “Gimme a Break,” Nell and the gang head to Tennessee for the World’s Fair (or it might have been New Orleans for Mardi Gras). Against all odds, everyone deserts the tents and various exhibits to join Nell—who played a nanny—as she leads them in a boisterous rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In.”

Ah, Nell …

PS: What ever became of Telma Hopkins? I liked her.

6 thoughts on “Nell Carter”

  1. I always enjoyed Telma Hopkins’ work, too, with Dawn. I was always a fan of Tony Orlando and his two babes, and never missed their TV show. And I’ve NEVER admitted that to anyone…

  2. Before she appeared on “Gimme A Break,” I believe, she originated her rolle in “Ain’t Misbehavin'” in which I saw her at least 5 times on Broadway. Her rendition of “Cash For Your Trash” was one for the ages. A truly sad and early loss of a great talent and one of a kind voice.

  3. But who would you rather have in charge of things (be they a household or hostage negotiations): Nell or Shirley Hemphill from What’s Happening?

    Nell had the Lawrence kids but Shirley (even being a waitress) had Rog, Dwayne Wayne, Re-Run, and Dee to keep in line.

  4. My grandfather, God rest him, used to see me watching “Gimme a Break” and then tell me a story about running into Nell Carter in a restaurant. He had just seen her in a play and told her she was fabulous. She beamed and said, “For that, you get a kiss,” and planted one right on his cheek. You’re right – she kicks ass. Now tell me: How many times have you checked your Amazon sales ranking today? I’m down to once every 3 1/2 minutes. I think I need to go to rehab.

  5. Do you know the name of the song that Nell sang at the end of the New Orleans Episode or it might be a different episode. It was the episode where she thinks she is losing Joey and sings it in a carnival setting/

Leave a Reply