When Ozzie Nelson died in 1975, he was no longer a household name. For a guy who had created the longest-running TV sitcom in history, invented the rock video, and fronted one of the most successful big bands of the 1930s, it’s baffling that Nelson has faded so far from American media memory. Larger than life offscreen—an attorney, college football star, cartoonist, songwriter, major band leader—Ozzie created a smaller-than-life TV persona, the bumbling average Dad who became known to the rock generation (which included his teen idol son Rick Nelson) as the essence of blandness. But America also saw Ozzie as their iconic Dad: not a “father knows best,” since his pontifications usually proved flawed by the end of each episode, but the father who tried his best.
This book is the only full-length biography of Ozzie Nelson since he published his memoirs in 1973. It treats the big band and early TV icon with affection and hints that American pop culture may owe more to Ozzie than is generally acknowledged.