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Alberta Nelson (August 14, 1937 – April 29, 2006) was an American television and film actress. After several dramatic parts in television in the early 1960s, she made five guest appearances on The Andy Griffith Show.
Alberta Ann Nelson
August 14, 1937
|Died||April 29, 2006, age 68|
|Alma mater||Andrews School for Girls|
Herbert Lester Gilman
|Parent(s)||Frank Alton Nelson|
Alberta Ann Nelson was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, to Frank Alton Nelson (1909–1959) and Katherine Storkel Stephens Nelson (1900–1982). Her only sibling was a half-sister, Irene Stephens McAleer (1919–1994). After graduating from the Andrews School for Girls in Willoughby, Ohio, in 1955, she briefly attended St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio. In the late 1950s, she moved to New York City, where she modeled and did theatre acting.
With the urging and assistance of her cousin, the theatrical producer John Kenley (Feb 20, 1906 - Oct 23, 2009), Nelson ventured into acting with the Erie Playhouse in Erie, Pennsylvania, and eventually played the lead in a production of The Seven Year Itch. She went on to appear in Broadway plays including Once There Was a Russian, The Wall, and The Gang's All Here.
Nelson appeared in seven movies in the 1960s as one of Eric Von Zipper's "mice" in the American International Beach Party series. She is the only person who appeared in all seven Beach Party movies, including Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. Nelson played the leather clad "rat pack" biker chick "Puss" (sometimes called by other names), one of the comic villains who dogged the steps of the lead characters played by Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.
After her successful girl-next-door stint as Flora on The Andy Griffith Show and her comedic career as biker girl Puss, Nelson starred in 1970s The Wild Scene as Dr. Virginia Grant, a female psychiatrist who talks graphically about her tawdriest cases. This and a 1970 appearance on Love, American Style would be Nelson's last credited roles.
Nelson married Ryan MacDonald (Machunas) around 1956 in Erie PA. Their son Adam was born in NYC around 1957 but died of SIDS at two months of age. Adam is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Philadelphia PA. Alberta had no other children with MacDonald. Ryan and Alberta divorced around 1962 and she moved to California where she pursued an acting career. She remarried, to Herbert Lester Gilman (b. November 19, 1922), on February 14, 1971 in Erie PA. She and Gilman had no children together but Herbert had three adult children from his first marriage.
Nelson fought cancer of the jaw/throat for several years, dying on April 29, 2006, at age 68, in Erie, Pennsylvania].[note 1] She was buried next to her mother and father at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Erie, Pennsylvania on May 2, 2006. Herbert Gilman died on June 29, 2007. He was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery on July 1, 2007.
- Beach Party (1963) - rat pack member
- Muscle Beach Party (1964) - muscle girl (Lisa)
- Bikini Beach (1964) - Puss/Alberta (Rat Pack member)
- Pajama Party (1964) - Alberta (Rat Pack member)
- Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) - Puss (Rat Pack member)
- How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) - Puss
- Sergeant Deadhead (1965) - NASA secretary
- Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) - "bad robot" reject #12
- The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) - Alberta / Puss
- The Wild Scene (1970) - Dr. Virginia Grant (final film role)
- The book Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture says that she died in Pennsylvania.
- Lisanti, Tom (2007). Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood: Seventy-Five Profiles. McFarland. p. 156. ISBN 9781476612416. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- "("Alberta Nelson" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- Lentz, Harris M. III (2007). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 261. ISBN 9780786429332. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- "Alberta Nelson Obituary". Erie Times-News. Erie, PA. May 2, 2006. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.