David Nelson, Last Surviving Member of Ozzie and Harriet's 'Fantasy Family,' Dies

David Nelson, who starred alongside his parents Ozzie and Harriet and his teen idol brother Ricky Nelson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, died Tuesday at age 74 after a battle with colon cancer. One of the TV's most treasured sitcoms, Ozzie and Harriet ran for 14 years and aired over 400 episodes. Storylines were loosely based on the Nelsons' actual lives, and the show became famous for its idyllic portrayal of the nuclear family.

In a 1971 Esquire article titled "The Happy, Happy, Happy Nelsons," David acknowledged the pressures of keeping up the facade of America's fantasy family:

"We would keep up the front of this totally problemless, happy-go-lucky group," he said. "There might have been a tremendous battle in our home, but if someone from outside came in, it would be as if the director yelled, 'Roll 'em,' We'd fall right into our stage roles.

"It's an awfully big load to carry, to be everyone's fantasy family."


Full episodes of the series—which may have launched the "actors playing themselves" trend—are available on YouTube, and are fantastic time capsules of classic television (commercials that aired during the show are uploaded as well). Here is Part One of "The Boys' Paper Route":



Read the full story at The LA Times.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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