Nelson began his entertainment career in 1949 playing himself in the radio sitcom series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
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Nelson played clarinet and drums in his tweens and early teens, learned the rudimentary guitar chords, and vocally imitated his favorite Sun Records rockabilly artists in the bathroom at home or in the showers at the Los Angeles Tennis Club.
At age sixteen, he wanted to impress his girlfriend of two years, Diana Osborn(e), who was an Elvis Presley fan and, although he had no record contract at the time, told her that he, too, was going to make a record.
He placed 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 19 including "Poor Little Fool" in 1958, which holds the distinction of being the first #1 song on Billboard magazine's then-newly created Hot 100 chart.
He recorded 19 additional Top 10 hits and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987.
By 1960, the Ricky Nelson International Fan Club had 9,000 chapters around the world.
Perhaps the most embarrassing moment in my career was when six girls tried to fling themselves under my car, and shouted to me to run over them. – NME – May 1960 Nelson was the first teen idol to utilize television to promote hit records.
and six months after the purchase, moved with son David to Hollywood, where Ozzie and Harriet were slated to appear in the 1941–42 season of Red Skelton's The Raleigh Cigarette Hour; Ricky remained in Tenafly in the care of his paternal grandmother.
The Nelson boys were first played in the radio series by professional child actors until twelve-year-old Dave and eight-year-old Ricky joined the show on February 20, 1949, in the episode "Invitation to Dinner." In 1952, the Nelsons tested the waters for a television series with the theatrically released film Here Come the Nelsons.
In 1957 he began a long and successful career as a popular recording artist.
As one of the top "teen idols" of the 1950s his fame led to a motion picture role co-starring alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin in Howard Hawks's western feature film Rio Bravo (1959).
The film was a hit, and Ozzie was convinced the family could make the transition from radio's airwaves to television's small screen.