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Ricky Nelson Net Worth | Celebrity Net Worth

What was Ricky Nelson’s Net Worth?

Ricky Nelson was an American actor, musician, and singer-songwriter who had a net worth of $500 thousand at the time of his death in 1985. Ricky Nelson rose to fame as a child star on the radio and television sitcom “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” on which he starred alongside his family. He went on to have a successful career as a recording artist with such hit songs as “Poor Little Fool,” “Believe What You Say,” “Stood Up,” “Travelin’ Man,” and “A Teenager’s Romance.” As an actor, Nelson had notable roles in the films “Rio Bravo” and “The Wackiest Ship in the Army,” among others.

As a singer Nelson had more than 50 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from 1957 to 1973. His song “Poor Little Fool” was the first #1 song on the newly created Billboard Hot 100 chart. Nelson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1515 Vine Street.

Ricky Nelson died on December 31, 1985 at 45 years old in a plane crash.

Estate Value

At the time of his death, Ricky’s estate was a mess thanks to divorce, debts and a number of other factors. It took several years to straighten the legalities out, but his estate was eventually turned around from a reported $1 million in debt to a much more solvent and profitable level.

Early Life

Ricky Nelson was born as Eric Hilliard Nelson on May 8, 1940 in Teaneck, New Jersey to entertainer parents Ozzie and Harriet. He had an older brother named David. When his family moved to Los Angeles, California to star in the second season of Red Skelton’s “The Raleigh Cigarette Hour,” Nelson stayed in New Jersey under the care of his grandmother. He eventually joined his family in Los Angeles in 1942. Growing up, Nelson was a timid and introspective child who had severe asthma. For his education, he went to Gardner Street Public School, Bancroft Junior High, and Hollywood High School, playing football and tennis at the latter. Nelson did not attend college due to the fact that he was already a successful, wealthy actor by the age of 18.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Nelson rose to stardom on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” which began as a radio sitcom created for his parents in 1944. The semi-autobiographical series, written by Ozzie, initially featured other actors in the roles of the Nelson brothers. Eventually, when they were old enough, the brothers joined the show in 1949. A few years later, the family starred together in the film “Here Come the Nelsons,” which soon resulted in the television sitcom “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” A huge hit, the program ran on ABC for 14 seasons from 1952 to 1966, becoming at the time the longest-running American television sitcom in history.

Recording Career in the 50s and 60s

While he was still on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” in the late 50s, Nelson signed a record deal with Verve Records. He subsequently recorded the singles “I’m Walkin’,” “A Teenager’s Romance,” and “You’re My One and Only Love.” Nelson performed the first of those songs in a 1957 episode of “Ozzie and Harriet” entitled “Ricky, the Drummer,” turning him into a teen idol. Not long after this, Nelson left Verve over royalty disputes and signed a five-year contract with Imperial Records. He went on to have instant success with his single “Be-Bop Baby” and his number-one debut album “Ricky.” Unhappy performing with older session musicians, Nelson soon assembled his own band consisting of James Burton, James Kirkland, Richie Frost, and Gene Garf. The group’s first recording was “Believe What You Say.”

Nelson released his self-titled second album in 1958; a significant hit, it launched the smash single “Poor Little Fool,” which reached number one on the newly created Billboard Hot 100. Nelson went on to have numerous Top 10 hit singles in the years after this, including “I Got a Feeling”; “Hello Mary Lou”; “Stood Up”; “Just a Little Too Much”; “Lonesome Town”; “Young World”; “Sweeter Than You”; and “Teen Age Idol.” Following this success, Nelson signed a 20-year deal with Decca Records and recorded the hit song “For You.” However, his career was soon hampered by the arrival of the British Invasion. In response, Nelson started transitioning to a more country-rock sound.

Ricky Nelson

Ricky Nelson/ Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Recording Career in the 70s

After struggling commercially for the latter half of the 60s, Nelson returned to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 with his 1970 single “She Belongs to Me.” He made it to the Top 40 one final time in 1972 with “Garden Party,” which hit number six. After being transferred to MCA Records in 1973, Nelson released the album “Windfall,” but failed to find success with it. He was eventually dropped from the label.

Acting Career

Nelson appeared in several television and film roles beyond “Ozzie and Harriet.” On the small screen, he guest-starred on such series as “McCloud,” “Hondo,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Petrocelli,” “The Love Boat,” and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.” Meanwhile, on the big screen, Nelson had an early role in the anthology romance film “The Story of Three Loves,” released in 1953. A bigger role came at the end of the decade in the Howard Hawks Western “Rio Bravo,” in which Nelson played gunslinger Colorado Ryan opposite John Wayne and Dean Martin. Nelson next starred opposite Jack Lemmon in the 1960 war comedy “The Wackiest Ship in the Army.” He had another leading role five years later in the comedy “Love and Kisses,” based on the eponymous stage play by Anita Rowe Block. Among his later credits, Nelson appeared in the television films “The Over-the-Hill Gang,” “Three on a Date,” and “High School U.S.A.”

Personal Life and Death

While on “Ozzie and Harriet” in 1957, Nelson fell for actress Marianne Gaba, who played his girlfriend in a few episodes of the show. The following year, he fell for singer Lorrie Collins, who played another of his girlfriends on the show. However, Nelson’s mother did not approve of either of these relationships. Nelson later started dating actress and painter Kristin Harmon, of whom his mother did approve. The pair married in 1963 in a shotgun wedding. Nelson and Harmon had a daughter named Tracy, a son named Sam, and twin sons named Gunnar and Matthew. By 1975, the marriage had fallen apart. After many years of heated legal proceedings and intense press scrutiny, Nelson and Harmon finally divorced in late 1982. Nelson went on to date model and animal trainer Helen Blair, who also served as his personal assistant.

On New Year’s Eve in 1985, while traveling on his comeback tour, Nelson was killed in a plane crash along with Blair and five other passengers en route to Dallas, Texas.

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