Ricky Nelson's launch as a rock star on this series is an interesting tale. He was already musically talented, having inherited his ability from his parents. As rock-n-roll was starting to grow and Ricky's interest in the music grew, he kept asking father Ozzie Nelson to let him play on the show. Initially, Ozzie resisted until he realized that it was an opportunity to take advantage of Ricky's growth as a "teen idol" and would thereby help the show's popularity. Ricky first sang a cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walking" on the episode "Ricky the Drummer" and soon afterward more episodes were tailored around showcasing Ricky's talents. However, not everyone was pleased with his foray into Rock-n-Roll. Most parents in America were still concerned that rock would be a bad influence on their children and many wrote letters to Ozzie and Harriet Hilliard protesting their allowing their son to take part in the music. The Nelsons dealt with the furor by injecting moments in the episodes in which Ozzie and/or Harriet would offer a sound and practical reasoning for supporting their son's music. With that, the furor died down and Ricky went on to become a major rocker with hits like "It's Late", "Traveling Man" and "Hello, Mary Lou". See more »
Not exactly the Beav, but still a piece of television history
I remember watching "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" back in the late 50's and early 60's. This was just one of those family sitcoms that spanned the decade, the others being Donna Reed, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver. When I was around 6 years old, I couldn't wait to see these programs. Ozzie and Harriet, to the best of my knowledge, is not even syndicated anymore. Leave it to Beaver, though, is the quintessential family sitcom from this era. I think that the latter outshines the former for a couple of reasons. First of all, the cast on Leave it to Beaver stayed fairly static; there was very little change in the makeup of the cast; one could expect the likes of Eddie Haskell to appear in every show and everyone loved it.
The fluidity of Ozzie and Harriet's cast in it's final years is compared with My Three Son's cast; both added wives to the cast, but by the mid 60's, this signaled an end to both of these shows. Also, Skip Young was sort of too old to play a fraternity brother of the Nelson brothers (by 1963 he was "only" 33 years old... kind of too old for an undergrad, but, perhaps, could have been cast at the very least as an associate Professor). By contrast, Leave it to Beaver didn't suffer this flaw; the cast remained the same; Lumpy Rutherford stayed as Lumpy Rutherford and was a contemporary of Wally's. Same deal with Gilbert, Toohey, et al with the Beav.
Secondly, Ward Cleaver's homespun wisdom far outshone that of Ozzie. In fact, Ozzie always looked sort of stilted on camera, so he wasn't as believable as Hugh Beaumont, Fred MacMurray or Robert Young.
However, I am partial here. Leave it to Beaver is by far my favorite family sitcom from this era. Ozzie pales to the likes of the Beav. Sorry.
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