Photo: Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson Papers.
Oswald George Nelson was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on March 20, 1906. He was the nation's youngest Eagle Scout at age 13 and an honor student and star quarterback at Rutgers University. While studying law at Rutgers in 1930, he organized a dance band to play the summer season at Glen Island Casino. The public's response was so enthusiastic that he decided to give up law and pursue music on a full-time basis. Soon "Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra" were playing the best clubs on the East Coast.
Harriet Hilliard joined the band as vocalist in 1932 and married Ozzie just three years later. The Nelson Orchestra made many recordings throughout the 1930s for labels such as Brunswick, Victor, and Bluebird. The band was featured on radio and in some motion pictures during the early 1940s.