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David Nelson, last of TV's 'Ozzie and Harriet,' is dead

By Alan Duke, CNN
David Nelson's funeral and interment are planned for noon Thursday in Los Angeles.
David Nelson's funeral and interment are planned for noon Thursday in Los Angeles.
  • Nelson died Tuesday of colon cancer complications
  • He co-starred with his parents and brother in the 1950s show
  • He acted in movies and TV, but he also directed and produced

Los Angeles (CNN) -- David Nelson, the older brother in TV's Ozzie and Harriet Nelson family, died Tuesday after a battle with colon cancer, publicist Dale Olson said Wednesday. Nelson was 74.

Nelson died at his Century City, California, home with his wife of 36 years, Yvonne, at his side, Olson said.

He was 16 in 1952 when he joined his parents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and younger brother Rick on the radio show "Here Come the Nelsons," which soon became television's "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

The TV show was shot in the family's real Hollywood Hills home and was based on the real family.

The sons' roles were originally played by actors when the radio show began, but David and Rick persuaded their parents to let them join the cast in its first year.

David Nelson directed and produced several episodes of the series during its 16-year run, Olson said.

While the show made Rick a teen idol and launch his music career, David became a successful director and producer.

Nelson was born in New York on October 24, 1936, but his father, actor-bandleader Ozzie Nelson, and mother, singer Harriet Hilliard, moved the family to Los Angeles.

He attended Hollywood High and the University of Southern California.

Rick Nelson died in a plane crash on December 31, 1985. His father died in 1975 and his mother's death came in 1994.

Along with his wife, David Nelson is survived by sons John, Eric, James and Danny, and daughter Teri.

His acting credits included movies roles between 1957 and 1965 in films such as "Peyton Place," "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker," and "The Big Circus," in which he won critical acclaim as a homicidal trapeze artist, according to a biography released by his publicist. He also acted in "Day of the Outlaw," "-30-," "The Big Show," "Love and Kisses," "Hondo" and "Swing Out." He co-starred with his mother in the 1976 film "Smash-Up on Interstate 5."

Nelson's television roles included "Up in Smoke," "The Love Boat," "High School USA," "A Family for Joe" and guest starring roles in series of that period, his biography says.

Along with his directorial work on his family's TV series, Nelson directed "O.K. Crackerby," "Childish Things," "Easy to be Free," "Ozzie's Girls," "Death Screams," "Last Plane Out," "Goodnight, Beantown," and "A Rare Breed," it said.

Nelson's funeral and interment are planned for noon Thursday at Pierce Brothers Westwood Mortuary in Los Angeles, his publicist said.

CNN's Jack Hannah and Denise Quan contributed to this report.