Adventures of Ozzie &
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet aired on
ABC from October 3, 1952 to September 3, 1966, starring the
real life Nelson family. The series starred Ozzie Nelson and
his wife, singer Harriet Nelson, and their young sons, David
Nelson and Eric Nelson, better known as Ricky. Don DeFore
had a recurring role as the Nelsons' friendly neighbor
"Thorny". The series attracted large audiences, and although
it was never a top-ten hit, it became synonymous with the
1950s ideal American family life. It is the longest-running
"live-action"/non-animated sitcom in US TV history.
When Red Skelton was drafted in March 1944,
Ozzie Nelson was prompted to create his own family situation
comedy. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet launched on CBS on
October 8, 1944, making a mid-season switch to NBC in 1949. The
final years of the radio series were on ABC (the former NBC Blue
Network) from October 14, 1949 to June 18, 1954. In total 402
radio episodes were produced. In an arrangement that amplified
the growing pains of American broadcasting, as radio "grew up"
into television, the Nelsons' deal with ABC gave the network the
option to move their program to television. The struggling
network needed proven talent that was not about to defect to the
more established and wealthier networks like CBS or NBC.
Before the show aired, Ozzie Nelson persuaded
ABC to agree to a 10-year contract that paid whether the series
was canceled or not. The unprecedented contract and Ozzie's
insistence for perfection in the show's production paid off in
the show's remarkable popularity.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet premiered on ABC on October
10, 1952, staying until September 3, 1966. The show strove for
realism and featured exterior shots of the Nelsons' actual
southern California home as the fictional Nelsons' home.
Interior shots were filmed on a sound stage recreated to look
like the real interior of the Nelsons' home. Like its radio
predecessor, the series focused mainly on the Nelson family at
home, dealing with run-of-the-mill problems. As the series
progressed and the boys grew up, storylines involving various
characters were introduced. Many of the series storylines were
taken from the Nelsons' real life. When the real David and Rick
got married, to June Blair and Kristin Harmon respectively,
their wives joined the cast of Ozzie and Harriet, and the
marriages were written into the series.