Today is Ozzie Nelson's birthday. Ozzie Nelson was a bandleader and the father on a popular tv sitcom back in the 50s and the 60s, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet". "Ozzie and Harriet" was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid.
This was a real family that played a family on TV. Yup, Ozzie practiced nepotism and developed a show that starred his wife and his two sons, David and Ricky. Now, you may know Ricky. He was a teen idol in the 50s/60s and sang hits like "Hello, Mary Lou", "Travelin' Man", "Lonesome Town", "Teenage Idol" and, later in his career, "Garden Party".
Originally Ozzie and Harriet was a radio show that Ozzie developed to spend more time with his family. How much more of a father can you be? At first his sons were played by actors but in 1949 Ozzie decided his sons were old enough and brought them on board for the television series.
Because the show ran from 1952 to 1966 America watched Ozzie and Harriet raise their two sons, first in black and white, then later in color. We watched "the irrepressible Ricky" go from a gawky smart aleck to a gorgeous pop star and we saw David turn from a little bit of a geek into a younger version of his father.
Harriet played a much more realistic version of a TV mom than her contemporaries and did it with a quiet sense of humor and a long suffering cog around which the three men of the family revolved. Ozzie embodied the picture of an ideal dad to many of us in that era, laid back, affable and, boy, did he have a great collection of sweaters.
Of all the family sitcoms of that generation, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" was the one where we got to see a real family interact and I think that might have been the cornerstone of the show's success.
BTW, did you know that Ricky Nelson's real name was Eric?
Here's Ricky Nelson singing "Lonesome Town" on the show: