Ricky Nelson, or Rick Nelson, was an American singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and actor. He placed fifty-three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1973, including nineteen top-ten hits, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987.
Nelson began his entertainment career in 1949 playing himself in the radio sitcom series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and, in 1952, appeared in his first feature film, Here Come the Nelsons. In 1957, he recorded his first single, debuted as a singer on the television version of the sitcom, and recorded a number one album, Ricky. In 1958, Nelson recorded his first number one single, “Poor Little Fool”, and, in 1959, received a Golden Globe Most Promising Male Newcomer nomination after starring in the western film, Rio Bravo. A few films followed, and, when the television series was cancelled in 1966, Nelson made occasional appearances as a guest star on various television programs.
Nelson and Sharon Kristin Harmon were married on April 20, 1963, and divorced in December 1982. They had four children: Tracy Kristine, twin sons Gunnar Eric and Matthew Gray, and Sam Hilliard. On February 14, 1981, a son was born to Nelson and Georgeann Crewe. A blood test in 1985 confirmed Nelson was the child’s father. Nelson was engaged to Helen Blair at the time of his death in an airplane crash on December 31, 1985.
Ricky Nelson was born the second son of big band leader Ozzie Nelson who was of Swedish descent and his wife, big band vocalist Harriet Hilliard Nelson, on May 8, 1940 at 1:25 p.m. at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey. Harriett remained in Englewood, New Jersey with her newborn and her older son, David while Ozzie toured the nation with the Nelson Orchestra. The Nelsons bought a two-story Colonial in Tenafly, New Jersey, and, six months after the purchase, moved with son David to Hollywood, California where Ozzie and Harriet were slated to appear in the 1941-42 season of Red Skelton’s The Raleigh Cigarette Hour; Ricky remained in Tenafly in the care of his paternal grandmother. In November 1941, the Nelsons bought what would become their permanent home: a green and white, two-story, Cape Cod Colonial at 1822 Camino Palmero in Los Angeles. Ricky joined his parents and brother in Los Angeles in 1942.