1 9 5 2 – 1 9 6 6 (USA)
435 x 25 minute episodes
This show originated on CBS Radio between 1944 and 1954, where it was originally known as The Ozzie Nelson – Harriet Hilliard Show.
On the original radio show the kids were played by actors as opposed to Ozzie and Harriet’s real kids who appeared in the TV series.
Transferring to the new medium of television, The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet was basically the real-life Nelson family, with all the little adventures that an active middle-class American family might have.
Even the house in the series – 822 Sycamore Road, Hillsdale – was modelled on the Nelsons’ real-life home in Hollywood and exterior shots were taken outside their real home in the Hills above Hollywood Boulevard.
Bandleader Nelson and his singer wife made their living with their music in the ’30s and ’40s, appearing on Red Skelton’s radio show and even filling in for him when Skelton was drafted.
They got their own slot and built a show that revolved around the family’s lives (the Nelson boys took over from the actors playing them in the original radio show) and the canny Nelson even talked ABC into a 10-year contract that paid whether his series was cancelled or not.
In the early episodes the stories revolved mainly around the four Nelsons, with only a few friends and neighbours, most notably Thorny Thornberry, who regularly offered Ozzie bits of ill-timed advice. Later, as the boys began to date, a succession of girlfriends began to appear.
In time, both David and Ricky got married and both their real-life wives (June & Kris) then appeared on the show also.
David emerged from college as a lawyer and joined a law office, in which Ricky became a part-time clerk.
Their boss was Mr. Kelley and their secretary was Miss Edwards. Ozzie was a perfectionist who insisted on high production values and his efforts paid off in the show’s remarkable popularity.
That launched a music career that included such hits as Fools Rush In, Hello, Mary Lou, Garden Party and Travellin’ Man.
At a time when Elvis Presley shocked the establishment with his sexual gyrations, Ricky Nelson was safe, pleasant and as middle-American as the street in Hillsdale (state never identified) where the Nelson’s lived.
Seven years after the show left the air, the elder Nelsons returned with the syndicated Ozzie’s Girls, in which Ozzie and Harriet took in two female college-student boarders. It didn’t last a season.
The final 26 episodes of The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet were filmed in colour.
Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash in 1985.
Eric “Ricky” Nelson
Mary Jane Croft
June (Mrs. David Nelson)
Kris (Mrs. Rick Nelson)