‘Ozzie and Harriet’s’ David Nelson dies

He was the last surviving cast member of iconic show

David Nelson, who grew up in front of America in “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” died Jan. 11 in Century City, Calif., of complications from colon cancer. He was 74.

Nelson was the last surviving member of the Nelsons TV family: actor-bandleader Ozzie; his singing wife, Harriet Hilliard; and his teen-idol younger brother, Rick. The show, which originated on radio in 1952 as “Here Come the Nelsons,” ran for 320 episodes from 1952 to 1966 as “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” on ABC. On the radio show, the boys were portrayed by pros, but they persuaded their parents to allow them to play themselves for the smallscreen.

In the show’s later years, David Nelson also directed some episodes. His film career included roles on 1957’s “Peyton Place,” 1959’s “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker,” “The Big Circus” (for which he won critical acclaim as a homicidal trapeze artist) and “Day of the Outlaw,” 1962’s “The Big Show,” l965’s “Love and Kisses,” 1978’s “Up in Smoke” and 1990’s “Cry-Baby.”

He also starred with Hilliard in 1976’s “Smash-Up on Interstate 5.”

Smallscreen roles included “The Love Boat,” “Hondo,” and telepics “A Family for Joe,” “Swing out Sweet Land” and “High School USA.”

Nelson also had a career as a director and a producer. Besides directing eps of “Ozzie and Harriet” he helmed episodes of “O.K. Crackerby,” “Adam-12” and “Ozzie’s Girls.” Feature credits included 1969’s “Childish Things,” 1982’s “Death Screams,” 1983’s “Last Plane Out” and 1984’s “A Rare Breed.”

He produced “Ozzie’s Girls,” “Last Plane Out” and “Easy to Be Free.”

In 2006, he was nommed for a TV Land Award for “Ozzie and Harriet” and received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Yvonne; four sons and a daughter; seven grandchildren; three nephews; Matthew, Gunnar and Sam; and a niece, Tracy.

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