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Ricky Nelson (May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985)

Eric Hilliard Nelson was an American actor, musician, singer/songwriter born in Teaneck, New
Jersey. He was the second son of band leader Ozzie Nelson. Ricky starred alongside his family in the TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet from 1952 to 1966. In 1959 Ricky starred alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin in the western film Rio Bravo. Between 1957 and 1973 Ricky had 53 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, including its very first #1 hit, Poor Little Fool, when the Hot 100 chart debuted on August 1, 1958. Ricky was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987.

In 1963 he married artist and actress Sharon Kristin Harmon. They had four children and divorced in 1982. In 1981 he had another son from Georgeann Crewe. On December 31, 1985 Ricky’s plane crash landed northeast of Dallas in De Kalb, Texas. Ricky was to perform at a New Year’s Eve gig in Dallas that evening. Seven of the nine occupants of the plane perished; only the pilots survived as they were able to escape through the cockpit windows. Ricky’s funeral was delayed several days as his remains were misdirected via transit from Texas to California. Ricky left his entire estate to the four children he shared with Harmon, but not her, nor his illegitimate son with Crewe. A year-long investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said “a definite cause was still unknown, but the crash was probably due to a fire that was caused by the plane’s cabin heater ‘acting up.'”

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