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Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra


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Oswald George “Ozzie” Nelson (March 20, 1906 - June 3, 1975) was an American entertainer who originated and starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet radio and television series with his wife and two sons.

The second son of Swedish parents, George Waldemar and Ethel Irene (Orr) Nelson, he was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and raised in the affluent suburb of Ridgefield Park, where the street of Ridgefield Park High School, where he attended and starred on the football team, is now named after him. He became an Eagle Scout at 13 and in adult life a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[1] He graduated from Rutgers University, where he played football despite his slight build, was a member of Cap and Skull,[2] and entered law school. In college, he played saxophone in a small band and coached football to earn money, but faced with the Depression, he turned to music as a full-time career.

Ozzie started his entertainment career as a band leader. He formed and led the Ozzie Nelson Band, and had some initial limited success. He made his own ‘big break’ in 1930. The New York Daily Mirror ran a poll of its readers to determine their favorite band. He knew that news vendors got credit from the newspaper for unsold copies by returning the front page and discarding the rest of the issue. Gathering hundreds of discarded newspapers, the band filled out ballots in their favor. They edged out Paul Whiteman and were pronounced the winners. From 1930 through the 1940s Nelson’s band recorded prolifically—first on Brunswick, then Vocalion and finally Bluebird.

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