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Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet

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The man was a genius dynamo- masterminding every aspect of the show from the scripts to production. Alas, his dedication to the show somewhat overwhelmed both his sons in that he flatly refused to let them attend college citing needing them for the show but had their characters do so.

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He also led a big band in the thirties and forties--a pretty respectable big band at that. Harriet Hilliard was his band singer. Ricky came by his musical talent from both of them. (And I'm sure received considerable musical help that way, too.)

Edited by Milburn Stone

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Thanks for that Milburn Stone.

 

 Of course, it bears mentioning that Ozzie had enrolled in Rutgers University with the intent to become a lawyer when his father suddenly died and the 20-year-old Ozzie could no longer afford to go to school so he had to drop out to help support his widowed mother and infant baby brother Don but quickly discovered that he had musical talent  re saxephone playing and, despite the overwhelming odds, was able to use said talent for that purpose. IOW, his musical career wasn't just an whim to become a star but for the purpose of keeping his fatherless family afloat from an early age!  He'd support his mother until her death in 1966. HeHis brother Don would grow up to be a writer for the show and would actually outlive his brother, sister-in-law and even both nephews!

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Her original name was Peggy Lou Snyder and she was the only child of entertainers Roy and Hazel McNutt Snyder who used his middle name of Hilliard as their performing name. She made her own stage debut at the age of six weeks!  Anyway, it seems that Roy separated from Hazel by the time their daughter was in her teens and she wasted no time using the stage to support her mother. Oh, and for reasons that seem to be lost to history, she was going by the name Harriet and would perform under the stagename of Harriet Hilliard (despite her father Roy not being around).  She had a brief early marriage but soon separated but, once she'd met Ozzie and they'd decided to marry, Ozzie used his legal skills to get that first marriage annulled and the two were wed in 1935.  It should be noted that she'd stay billed as  Harriet Hilliard  until the Nelsons' movie/ TV pilot Here Come the Nelsons. Perhaps it's also noteworthy that both her younger son Rick (Eric)  and his youngest child Sam would have Hilliard bestowed as middle names but no one seemed interested in keeping her original surname alive (even her mother seems  to have legally  changed her surname to that by the time she died). 

Edited by Blergh · Reason: mother for parents

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He was sure my tween heart throb - even wrote a song about me! My best friend growing up had the same first name. We saw each other at our 50th high school reunion in June. We laughed at how we about wore that 45 out playing it over and over. And of course someone couldn't resist walking up to us singing "Hello Mary Lou". We just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. If we had a dollar for every time that happened over the years!

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On ‎10‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 11:13 PM, Shadow Wave said:

It's been awhile since I read it, but as I recall from reading Ozzie's autobiography, David Nelson did attend USC. 

I don't mean to contradict you but virtually every other source I've read stated that Ozzie flatly refused to let his sons go to college during the show's filming so they COULD stay on the show. Ironically enough, on the show they not only went to college but David even fulfilled Ozzie's own lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer with Rick as his firm's legal assistant. I've read the senior Mr. Nelson's bio, too, and I have to say that, as charming and amiable as he was with his words, I didn't find him entirely above stretching the truth if not altogether lying to make a story more palatable for the reader. 

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chessiegal,

  It's a bit of an eye-opener watching him go  from a gawky preteen mouthing off to his bigger and taller older brother to shooting past David's (and Ozzie's) height and becoming a rather photogenic teen and young adult- to say nothing of unleashing singing ability that no one could have predicted when the show first started. Even Ozzie admitted that his younger son's star power significantly extended the show's longevity. Still, even though he did a fairly good job in Rio Bravo (1959), singing rather than acting was his passion.  I also have to wonder if Jerry Mathers or the tragic Rusty Hamer may have envied his fate of going from gawky to handsome instead of vice versa.

Edited by Blergh · Reason: handsome is

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Although David Nelson would not become a top tier performer, he did do a fairly good and believable job in The Big Circus (1959)as a sinister trapeze artist. Not only did David do his own trapeze work (which he and Ricky diligently trained before the filming started) but he'd actually work with circuses from time to time. Oh and there's a good showcase of David's trapeze skills in the episode 'The Circus' in which he had a dream of having to serve a subpoena to a trapeze artist on the wire! I mean, he actually pulled himself up from the ground  and flipped himself onto to the chest-high trapeze  net with only his arms AND climbed the rope to the trapeze platform using only his hands! I mean how strong arms would one have to have to be able to do that?!

Edited by Blergh · Reason: net, etc.
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pachebo,

Fairly good tribute but it does the question of how Rick would have coped had he actually lived to the current day! It's hard to imagine that he'd do much more than dine off his past laurels as Micky Dolenz has been doing for the last couple of decades.

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pachebo,

Interesting that he sounded somewhat like Rudy Vallee here. He didn't sound so raspy yet as he would on the show (and he was a lifelong nonsmoker during those smoking times)!Also, this was about the time of his marriage to Harriet so I'm wondering why he didn't have her sing it instead unless he thought that it would have been  more acceptable for a man to say he'd be free the rest of the night from a quarter to nine than it would have been for a woman. Can anyone imagine how Mae West would have run with this song with just a few gender terms changed?

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On 10/12/2018 at 6:16 PM, Blergh said:

I don't mean to contradict you but virtually every other source I've read stated that Ozzie flatly refused to let his sons go to college during the show's filming so they COULD stay on the show. Ironically enough, on the show they not only went to college but David even fulfilled Ozzie's own lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer with Rick as his firm's legal assistant. I've read the senior Mr. Nelson's bio, too, and I have to say that, as charming and amiable as he was with his words, I didn't find him entirely above stretching the truth if not altogether lying to make a story more palatable for the reader. 

Both of these obits for David mention him attending USC.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-david-nelson-20110112-story.html%3foutputType=amp

https://www.google.com/amp/www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/david-nelson-defined-brother-ricky-nelson-ozzie-harriet-co-star-teen-idol-article-1.153734%3foutputType=amp

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19 hours ago, Cara said:

OK, I stand corrected re David but evidently, it seems Rick did NOT go to college during the the show's time. 

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Regarding Rick(y), Wikipedia says:

 

Quote

Nelson attended Gardner Street Public School,[21] Bancroft Junior High,[22] and, between 1954 and 1958, Hollywood High School, from which he graduated with a B average.[23][24] He played football at Hollywood High[23][24] and represented the school in interscholastic tennis matches.[25] Twenty-five years later, Nelson told the Los Angeles Weekly he hated school because it "smelled of pencils" and he was forced to rise early in the morning to attend.[23]

Ozzie Nelson was a Rutgers alumnus and keen on college education,[26] but eighteen-year-old Ricky was already in the 93 percent income-tax bracket and saw no reason to attend.[24] At age thirteen, Ricky was making over $100,000 per annum, and at sixteen he had a personal fortune of $500,000.[27] Nelson's wealth was astutely managed by his parents, who channeled his earnings into trust funds.

I wouldn't have gone to college, either. Even if he had wanted to go, Ricky was a teen idol by this point and it would have been a complete circus. David Nelson not only managed to combine university and the TV show, but also made several movies at the same time, including Peyton Place.

Incidentally, Ronnie Burns, the adopted son of George Burns and Gracie Allen, and a regular on their show, was about a year older than David Nelson and also attended USC while keeping up a supporting role on his parents' show.

Edited by Shadow Wave

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OK, in the short run, it may not have been practical had Rick gone to college at that time. 

 

However; considering how he (and his onetime wife Kris) wound up burning through his funds in very short order and he wound up touring almost nonstop to keep from sinking into debt; it may not have hurt him in the longrun to have gone to college to learn other skills to cope with life and its turns. 

Thankfully, Ozzie didn't live to see the latter part of his younger son's life (much less his horrific death).

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Interestingly enough, Lindsay Crosby wound up having a bit of an impact of David's life at least on two occasions.

 The first was when  his then-friend Lindsay and his brother Gary guested on the original radio version of AoOH alongside their crooner father Bing in 1948 and this was enough to convince David and Ricky to successfully lobby their parents to let their own parts rather than having other performers do so. 

In 1961, 25-year-old David married the statuesque, fetching blonde former  Playmate 28-year-old June Blair- Lindsay's onetime fiancee. 

I have no idea whether David and Lindsay were still friends by that point, but he and June would have two sons together before divorcing in either late 1974 or in 1975  (2 days before Ozzie's death) depending on the source. While David would remarry   Yvonne O'Connor Houston adopting her three children later in 1975, June Blair has never married but is  85[!]today, October 20th and, along with Connie Harper Nelson ( Ozzie's onetime sister-in-law), are now the only surviving regular adult cast members with Kris Harmon Nelson's death. 

Edited by Blergh · Reason: adult clarification

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Since I already mentioned his onetime wife (and sons' mother) June Blair's birthday, it seems even more apt that I mention that today would have been David Ozzie Nelson's 82nd Birthday had he not been fated to die from complications of colon cancer in January,2011 at age 74. Others may have laughed with  his parents or been charmed by his younger bro but I can't imagine the show could have really survived without his quiet yet strong input- to say nothing of the Real Life Nelsons.

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One thing I've never seen addressed but am hoping someone here might have some insight is this: how did Ozzie not go to war in World War II  when he was within the age range for a US man to have done so. I mean, Frank Sinatra had a perforated ear drum via the usage of forceps at birth that kept HIM out but I've never heard of Ozzie having any kind of physical impediment that would have prevented him from serving (and he was surprisingly athletic well into late middle age despite his slighter height and physique compared to his sons).  And, his widowed mother had two other sons, so I doubt that that could have been a reason to have kept him out. Lastly, Harriet had been self-supporting and supportive of her own mother from her teen years so, had he been drafted, she more  likely could have found the means to provide for their family more readily than many other wives and mothers who had never worked outside the home before their husbands' service.  I'm not condemning him but it just seems atypical that he was able to work in radio, movies,etc. and conduct an orchestra without having any interruption due to service from 1941 to 1946.

Edited by Blergh · Reason: 6

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OK, what I am about to put forth here is pure conjecture on my part since I've never seen it confirmed/denied by any family members but, if the data checks out, it somewhat confirms my beliefs. I looked up Harriet Nelson's family as best I could a site rhyming with 'Wind- uh- Knave'  which lists obits and final resting places and what I discovered is that Mrs. Nelson's mother Hazel had been born in May, 1888 and she had a sister named Harriett (with two 't's) born that same year. Anyway, due to that month being somewhat in the middle of a calendar year, it makes it almost a certainty that Harriett had been Hazel's twin sister. Alas, Harriett McNutt  died in 1911 at either 22 or 23 years of age -evidently having never married or having had any offspring.  Her niece was two at the time so I'm wondering if it's possible that her surviving sister Hazel decided to rename her daughter for her late twin and had no problems in discarding the original Peggy Lou (and her husband Roy may not have been able to win any arguments against it).  Nowhere else have I seen an explanation given as to WHY Peggy Lou became Harriet so this may be a reason.

  Oh, for what it's worth Roy Hilliard Snyder was living in Hollywood at the time of his death in 1953  but was touring in Des Moines when he had his fatal heart attack. Now, whether he and Hazel had by this point finally divorced, were still informally separated or even reconciled, I'm not sure but he WAS buried in Forest Lawn though in a plot somewhat removed from where his onetime wife, daughter and grandson Rick (who are all buried rather close together) would later be buried  (and despite his son-in-law Ozzie's claim in his bio's that he'd 'changed his surname to Hilliard when he was twenty , he was buried under the name of Snyder). I'm also not sure what if any kind of dealings he may have had with his grown daughter, son-in-law or grandsons by the close of his life when they'd all become famous. 

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