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Ricky Nelson: Original Teen Idol (1999)

Not Rated | | TV Movie 22 August 1999
Biographical story of rock idol and TV star, Ricky Nelson is recalled from the view of Ricky in a discussion with a fan just hours before his death in a plane crash in 1985. Told in ... See full summary »




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricky Nelson
Ozzie Nelson
Harriet Nelson
David Nelson
Donna Fontana
Helen Blair
Bobby Neal
Lorrie Collins
Tara Rosling ...
Suzanne Fontana
June Blair
Chris Loane ...
James Burton
Rob Fenton ...
Lew Chudd


Biographical story of rock idol and TV star, Ricky Nelson is recalled from the view of Ricky in a discussion with a fan just hours before his death in a plane crash in 1985. Told in flashbacks, the film examines the Nelson's early life, their rise to TV stardom in the 50's, Ricky's struggles with his Dad to move into music and out of his Dad's control, and his own struggles with drugs and his star drop after his early teen successes. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

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Not Rated





Release Date:

22 August 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ricky Nelson  »

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References Maverick (1957) See more »

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Woefully inaccurate, miscast, soap-opera dribble.
29 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

Woefully inaccurate account of the Nelson family of TV's Ozzie & Harriet. Ozzie Nelson was a successful Orchestra leader during the Big Band era and Harriet a singer in his band. Their success led to popular radio appearances which brought them to Hollywood and a full length feature called HERE COME THE NELSONS which introduced the sons David and Ricky. Success of the film led to the long-running series which followed the boys from youth to adulthood and into marriage with the wives playing themselves. Unlike, a more recent Ozzie who found success by having his family filmed for TV, the Nelson's shows were scripted sitcom material not unlike Leave It To Beaver, leaving any reference to their musical roots behind. The acting was often wooden, the jokes stale, and the situations unremarkable, but the natural charm stemming from an actual family playing themselves shown through. Ozzie as producer and director was actually quite good. The Irrepressible Ricky (as he was billed) was given jokes and dialogue that would make him seem an egotistical brat, but he did have the best lines. In his teen years, and following somewhat in his parents footsteps, the show became a launching pad for him to sing a song or two on the air and the overwhelming frenzy that resulted changed the dynamics of the show forever. Ricky Nelson became a rock-and-roll sensation and like many a roller the road ahead was filled with both success and failure. His most famous concert was at a Rock-and-Roll Reunion show at Madison Square Garden where he was booed for trying to perform new material and immortalized the event in perhaps his best loved song GARDEN PARTY, which has become somewhat of a national anthem to rock and rollers everywhere. Drugs, womanizing, and non-stop parties would dominate the later part of his life and he would die, like so many other musicians who traveled by air to concerts, in a plane crash. Actress Traci Nelson and the pop duo THE NELSONS were family members that would continue the family tradition.

The film, sadly, does not tell this story well. The actors are miscast, capturing neither the looks nor spirit of their counterparts. The script is pure soap-opera dribble, so shallow that no character seems real, no character seems redeeming. It seems as if the producers knew that few who would watch the movie would remember the real life Nelsons and figured they could get away with anything. In light of the Jackson Family Movie I suppose the producers thought that dysfunctional family drama was necessary, they just ran out of dysfunctional families. Watch the film if you must, but remember, this is not the Nelsons. Just a bunch of actors who have stolen their names, and replaced fact with fiction. I recommend buying a Best of CD instead.

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