The last remaining member of a family that was an American institution on radio and television in the 1950s and 1960s has died. David Nelson (pictured top right) passed away yesterday from complications from colon cancer. He died in his Century City, California home and was 74 years old.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet began in 1944 on radio and revolved around fictionalized versions of Ozzie and Harriet (Hillard) Nelson. He was a bandleader and she was a singer. In the beginning, their children David and Ricky were played by child actors. In February 1949, the real-life Nelson boys, who’d long accompanied their parents to broadcasts, took over the roles themselves. After learning that their friend, Lindsay Crosby (son of Bing) was going to make an appearance with his dad, the boys pleaded to take part. The boys showed such talent that their parents eventually agreed.
In October 1952, the program moved to television on the four-year old ABC network. The series ran for 435 episodes before leaving primetime in 1966. All but the final season were produced in black and white. It remains the longest-running live-action sitcom in TV history.