Thursday, January 13, 2011

Half Nelson

Well, the last of the Nelsons has left us.  David Nelson, older brother of Ricky, and first son of Ozzie and Harriet, died Tuesday at 74. Colon Cancer. 

David Nelson (1936-2011)
If you remember "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," the family sitcom that ran for 14 years (320 half-hour episodes) from 1952 - 1966, you might join me in wondering just where were the "adventures."  It was a show about the nuclear family before that concept was blown to bits, but for a show with the word "adventures" in the title, they sure as heck didn't do much.  I don't think they even went anywhere. That's why I liked their show so doggone much, and wished that I had been named "Ozzie" and could just hang around the backyard all day, being all Ozzied up. Papa Ozzie didn't seem to have a job other than hanging around the house wearing a sweater and yukking it up with his neighbor Thorny Thornbury.  Mom Harriet was always baking cookies or lunching with her ladies club.  Older brother David went to school and nodded a lot, and of course his brother, "the irrepressible" Ricky, was a huge rock and roll star.  But that stardom didn't really figure into the show; most of the time, Ricky was seen going to school (high school, then college) and hanging around the malt shop with his buddies, including a guy named Wally, who giggled and dated Ginger.  

Imagine, though, how it was to be David Nelson.  His younger brother was, by all accounts, the more handsome son, and it was Ricky who became the rock 'n' roll star, with hit records and all that.  The younger child of two always seems to be the one who goes way afield in order to get all the attention, a theory which my older sister and lone sibling will verify any time you ask.  The story goes that young Rick was on a date with a girl who was all infatuated with Elvis, and Rick said, "Well, so what? I'm making a rock 'n' roll record!" and he mentioned it to his father, a former bandleader and recording star, and there we were.  "I'm Walkin' "! "Poor Little Fool"!  "Stood Up"! "Travelin' Man"! Ricky in the Top 10 many times!   Girls chasing him, tearing off his cardigan sweater, vying for his autograph and locks of his hair...and David, the older, quieter, steadier brother. It must have been interesting to be around all this Hollywood hysteria, as in the episode from Rick's real life, according to a biography of Rick cited in this Wikipedia article, when Secret Service agents caught Rick's wife Kris having sex with Ronald Reagan, Jr.  That had to hurt. Or Rick's wasteful, wasted life, which involved wasting his fortune and gulping every drug he could get his hands on, and which ended in a plane crash on New Year's Eve, 1985.

Maybe it wasn't all that bad, being David Nelson.  Slow and steady won the race again.  Farewell to another part of our Golden Era, and may Godspeed.

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