Home > 50’s Western TV series about Gambling Brothers

50's Western TV series about Gambling Brothers

In 1951, a Western TV series about Gambling Brothers was aired on the ABC network: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. It lasted for 12 years until its cancellation in 1963.

It was one of the most popular television programs in the 1950s: it ranked at #11 on U.S. Nielsen ratings, being surpassed only by “I Love Lucy” (at #8), “Dragnet” (at #6) and two other television series about gambling: “The Red Skelton Show” and “You Bet Your Life”.

In the early 1950s, Ozzie Nelson was approached by representatives of a radio syndicator who wanted to expand his show to television. Nelson agreed and, in 1952, “Ozzie’s Boys” debuted on CBS-TV as a summer replacement replacing “Broadway Television Theatre”, which was produced by Fred Coe.

The original plotline had Ozzie and his wife having sons aged 12 and 10 years. Ricky (Richard Keith) would have played the saxophone and acted as an offstage foil for his father’s comedy.

However, the sons were not interested in acting, and only Rick agreed to participate in the show. Thus, Ozzie Nelson re-wrote the story as a vehicle for Rick, even though he originally intended it to be a program on domestic topics such as cooking and decorating.

Rick was original to be portrayed as Ozzie’s real son. Still, the producers could not convince Rick to abandon his musical career, which would have required moving from Los Angeles (where he lived) to New York City (where the show was being produced).

Thus, for a series about a family band to work on television, Nelson decided that Rick would be portrayed as his adopted son. The Nelsons’ real sons were too young to appear on the show. It was realised that Ozzie could not be a travelling salesman because he had no actual occupation (it was explained in the series that Ozzie retired after selling his business).

Thus, it became a virtual re-run of “Blondie”, the famous long-running radio program, which featured the adventures of Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead as they struggled through poverty.
Let’s move on and take a look at the top 10 best fun facts from the 50’s Western TV series about Gambling Brothers:

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Top 10 Fun Facts About the 50's Western TV series about Gambling Brothers

These top 10 fun facts will change the way you think about this TV show. If you are a fan of this show, We guarantee that these fun facts will help you understand the program better. If you are new to this, we recommend reading and sharing these ten fun facts with your friends.

1. Originally filmed in Black and White

TV Western drama “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” was initially filmed in black and white, to be broadcast on ABC Television in 1952. It began airing as a regular colour television program on August 15, 1954. In fact, up until 1955, when the show went into a half-hour format, the first-year episodes were filmed in a one hour format.

2. Real-Life Family

In the series, Ozzie Nelson portrayed himself and his wife as played by Joan Camden. In real life, they were married from 1928 until she died in 1962. Their three sons (and their wives) appeared as their TV counterparts: David and Marie, Rick and Pamela, and Bobbie (a female character). The couple’s fourth son was born after the series ended.

3. First TV Western to focus on a Blacksmith Shop

“The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” is believed to be the first TV western drama to focus on a blacksmith shop, as well as one of the very first sitcoms set in contemporary times. The popularity of the TV show led to the phrase “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” being used to describe any situation involving a father, mother and their children.

4. Ricky's real-life band appearances were edited out for syndication

Ricky Nelson appeared on screen with his real-life band, The Rick Nelson Combo (later known as The Stone Canyon Band), in 28 episodes. In those early days of television, the networks demanded that all music be removed from live TV programs, so these performances were edited out for syndication.

5. The top 10 best episodes as voted by fans on IMDB (ranked by critics):

1- The First Baby (Season 2, Episode 14)
2- New Neighbor (Season 5, Episode 8)
3- Ozzie’s Driving Test (Season 2, Episode 18)
4- The Cookout (Season 6, Episode 11)
5- Ozzie the Hero (Season 1, Episode 15)
6- Christmas Gift for Rick (Season 3, Episode 12)
7- The First Vacation (Season 2, Episode 16)
8- Pamela’s Promise (Season 3, Episode 4)
9- Rick Runs Away From Home (Season 4, Episode 13)

6. The show was filmed at Desilu Studios in Culver City, California

Sunset Gower Studios from 1937 to 1962. Desilu Productions purchased the studio in 1958 and filmed “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” there for its entire run. The Culver City location later became Sony Pictures Studios. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

7. Ozzie and Harriet produced a pilot for a comedy called "The Abbott Family."

Ozzie Nelson, one of the producers on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” previously worked as a bandleader in Chicago during the late 1920s. He was offered the chance to perform as part of an orchestra on a New Year’s Eve radio program. During the broadcast, Nelson was asked to make a brief welcoming speech. Although nervous and unaccustomed to public speaking, he performed well enough for CBS officials to invite him to audition for their new radio show, “The Kate Smith Show”.

8. Ozzie made several appearances on The Jack Benny Show

Ozzie Nelson, a friend of Jack Benny and whose sons hung out with the other guest musicians on Benny’s show, made several appearances on “The Jack Benny Show” as Ricky’s drummer. When Ricky started going to school in 1951, Ozzie was often asked about his guitar-playing son. This led to the development of the sitcom, originally titled “Good Old Days”, in which Ozzie portrayed himself and his wife was played by actress Joan Camden. In 1952, Nelson appeared as a guest on Benny’s radio show and sang two songs with The Sportsmen Quartet (“The Isle of Innisfree” and “Trade Winds”).

9. David appeared with his dad on an episode of I Love Lucy

David Nelson had a small uncredited role in the 1956 episode “Ricky’s European Booking”. In that episode, Ricky (played by Desi Arnaz) performs and is told he has to talk for six minutes when Bing Crosby cannot appear. As Ricky’s band, Jerry and David Nelson are supposed to fill in for Ricky and talk about the places they have been when Ricky is unable to do so. The episode was written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis (a daughter-in-law of Lucille Ball) as a favour for Lucy’s ex, Desi Arnaz, who wanted to include some of his real-life children in the show.

10. The series spawned a variety television program in 1958

The “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” became so popular; it was natural that CBS would want to capitalise on this success by having Nelson sing and play guitar as part of a weekly variety show. To appease his band members who did not like the idea of their pay being cut in half (since they would be working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights for CBS), Ozzie promised them he would only do it for a year. That series became “The Red Skelton Hour”, famous as the time when Red Skelton first began to wear his “conical” straw hats. The pilot episode of this series, which was shown as an instalment of CBS’s “The Walter Winchell File”, featured a guest appearance by the Nelson family (with Ozzie singing and playing the guitar). This came about when Ricky appeared on Harry von Zell’s program in September 1957 to promote his book, “Ricky Nelson’s Story”. Ozzie and Harriet were in the audience, along with Red Skelton.

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