HN
Harriet Nelson

Harriet Nelson

In 1941 Harriet and Ozzie made the first of several low-budget musicals, but had greater success appearing together on Joe Penner's and Red Skelton's radio programs. Three years later Nelson and Nelson (Hilliard had begun using her husband's surname professionally) premiered their own radio show, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (1944-52). A great success, the show added on the Nelsons' sons David and Ricky in 1949, and in 1952, the entire family made not only a blandly agreeable feature bow ("Here Come the Nelsons") but began an immensely impressive 15-year series run on ABC-TV.As TV, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" was hardly adventurous, with family debates over homemade vs. store-bought pancake batter not always managing to deliver a half-hour of unmitigated sitcom thrills. The show did, however, percolate along quite pleasantly at its best: Ozzie's ideas would frequently fail to pan out, Harriet was on hand to dispense wisdom and the welcome wry remark, and the boys were undeniably cute. As a genre prototype, the show practically created what was later called "the family sitcom"; as cultural barometer, the program gently presented a fairytale postwar nuclear family ideal that never was.Once the show had run its course, Ozzie and Harriet did some enjoyable guest stints on TV and tried a later series ("Ozzie's Girls" 1973-74), Ricky continued the string of hit songs which began in 1956, and David moved into TV production. After her husband's death from cancer in 1975, Nelson acted with some regularity in TV-movies and miniseries including "Once an Eagle" (1976) and "The First Time" (1982). Ricky Nelson's death in a plane crash in 1985 again brought tragedy into Nelson's life, but for the most part she was able to bask in the company of a successful entertainment dynasty including actor-granddaughter Tracy Nelson and grandsons Matthew and Gunnar (the pop duo Nelson); she was also fondly remembered for a legacy of light, genial TV entertainment very much of its time.
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