Portia Nelson

Actor, Musical Artist

1920 – 2001


Who was Portia Nelson?

Portia Nelson was an American popular singer, songwriter, actress, and author. She was best known for her appearances in the most prestigious 1950s cabarets, where she sang an elegant repertoire in a soprano noted for its silvery tone, perfect diction, intimacy, and meticulous attention to words. In 1965 she portrayed the cantankerous Sister Berthe in the film version of The Sound of Music; she also had a minor role as Sarah in the flop musical Doctor Dolittle; on TV’s All My Children Nelson played the long-running role of nanny Mrs. Gurney. Her book of poetic musings, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery, became a mainstay of twelve-step programs.

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May 27, 1920
Brigham City
Also known as
  • Betty Mae Nelson
  • Potia Nelson
  • United States of America
Mar 6, 2001
New York

on July 23, 2013


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