David Nelson of 'Ozzie and Harriet' Was First Reality Star

A family spokesperson confirmed that actor David Nelson, who starred on his parents' popular television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, has died at age 74. Nelson passed away at his home in Los Angeles after battling complications of colon cancer.

Surviving David are his wife, five children, and seven grandkids.

David was the last living member of the Nelsons TV family that also included his parents, Ozzie and Harriet, and younger brother and future music/film star Ricky. David also directed and produced several episodes of the show, which was shot in the family's Hollywood Hills home.

Back before there was such a thing as reality TV, Nelson was one of the first true reality stars. The show has since been lampooned over the years for depicting a family that was almost too perfect—a sharp contrast to today's reality shows, wouldn't you say?


The original version of the sitcom started on the radio in 1949, before making the transition to television in 1952. It was a program Time said "blurred the line between fact and fiction," with David and Ricky's actual wives being brought on to play their fictional spouses. Another show twist had David's character going to college and joining a fraternity at the same time he did those things in real life.

David Nelson also appeared in such films as Peyton Place, The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker, Day of the Outlaw, and others, plus TV shows like The Love Boat, Up in Smoke, and A Family for Joe. He's been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His nephew said in a statement issued today that the death was "a great loss to the Nelson family...We will all miss Uncle Dave's laughter and evolved sense of humor."

Did you ever see the Ozzie and Harriet show?

Image via IMDB

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