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Iowa History Daily: July 18 - Harriett Nelson of Des Moines

Iowa History Daily: On July 18, 1909, Harriet Nelson (born Peggy Lou Snyder) of “Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” fame was born in Des Moines. The talented performer shined on the stage, across the radio waves, and on television over a long career.

After spending her earliest days in Iowa’s Polk County, the stage called to Nelson at an early age. By three years old she appeared in vaudeville productions, and her first appearance on Broadway came in her teens. Multitalented, Nelson dropped out of high school and joined the Corps de Ballet at the Capitol Theater.

In 1932, Harriet Nelson met a saxophone playing bandleader named Ozzie Nelson who added her first to his band and three years later as his wife. While playing in the band, Harriet Nelson’s film career took off while she starred aside the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the musical “Follow the Fleet.”

In 1944, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” debuted as a radio program to great success. Transitioning to television on ABC in 1952, the domestic comedy went on to become one of the most popular programs of the early television era. After a long and successful career, Nelson passed away in 1994. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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