The Adventures of Ozzie Nelson

The Life and Career of America’s Favorite Pop

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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

John R. Holmes has been teaching Medieval literature at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio since 1985 and has written two dozen articles on J.R.R. Tolkien.

Bibliographic Details

John R. Holmes
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 426
Bibliographic Info: 48 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8358-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4369-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
1. Young America’s Favorite (1906–1931) 5
2. Hello, Peggy Lou (1909–1933) 20
3. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson (1934–1935) 36
4. Seeing Stars (1936–1938) 50
5. Vaudeville and Movies (1938–1941) 64
6. Ozzie, Red, and Junior’s Mom (1941–1944) 79
7. Adventures Take One: Musical Comedy (1944–1945) 94
8. Adventures Take Two: The Show About Nothing (1946–1951) 108
9. Here Come the Nelsons (1952) 122
10. Ozzie’s Calendar (1953) 135
11. Producer Ozzie (1953–1954) 147
12. European Vacation (1954–1955) 160
13. Fraternity and a Tenor Guitar (1955–1957) 172
14. “Old Posse” / Rock & Roll (1957–1958) 185
15. ­Six-Shooters and Trapezes (1958–1959) 198
16. I’m Not a Lawyer, but I Play One on TV (1959–1960) 211
17. … and on Tonight’s Episode, Here’s June (1961–1962) 223
18. … and on Tonight’s Episode, Here’s Kris (1963–1964) 235
19. Adventures’ End (1964–1966) 248
20. Ozzie’s Girls (1967–1974) 260
Epilogue: The Nelson Legacy 275
Appendix 1: Discography 281
Appendix 2: Ozzie Nelson Orchestra Personnel 292
Appendix 3: Ozzie Nelson Radio Log, 1930–1954 294
Appendix 4: Radio Episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet 347
Appendix 5: Television Episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet 361
Appendix 6: Ozzie Nelson’s College Football Record 380
Appendix 7: Ozzie Nelson Chart Stats 381
Chapter Notes 385
Bibliography 389
Index 403