June Blair, who portrayed the wife of her real-life husband, David Nelson, on the reality-bending ABC family comedy The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, has died. She was 90.
Blair died Monday of natural causes at her home in Sherman Oaks, her daughter-in-law Susan Nelson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Shortly after posing as Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month in January 1957, the redheaded Blair starred as a woman mixed up in a complex theft of narcotics in the film noir Hell Bound (1957), starring John Russell.
Then, in 1959 releases, she portrayed a vulnerable secretary at a construction firm in The Rabbit Trap, starring Ernest Borgnine, and was one of three daughters of a nuclear scientist (future Batman butler Alan Napier) — Venetia Stevenson and Diane Jergens were the others — in Island of Lost Women.
Blair had just come off a turn as a saloonkeeper on the syndicated series Two Faces West when she and Nelson became engaged in April 1961. They married a month later at Forest Lawn cemetery’s Church of the Hills, with his younger brother, Ricky Nelson, serving as best man.
Blair, who had appeared on two episodes of Ozzie and Harriet in 1960 as other characters, was abruptly introduced as Mrs. June Nelson on “The Newlyweds Get Settled,” which aired on Oct. 12, 1961, as the third episode of the show’s 10th season.
Viewers had to be confused — a week earlier, David was still dating Roberta (Roberta Shore)! Of course, the popular series always blurred the line between fiction and reality, with Ozzie and Harriet Nelson as the parents of David and Ricky onscreen and off. (Ricky would marry Kristin Harmon in 1963, and she joined the show, too.)
Blair remained on the comedy (with a year off to care for her firstborn) through its 14th and final season, which concluded in March 1966.
“I’ve always been an independent girl,” she said in a 1963 interview. “I was afraid the Nelsons might try to absorb me, as it were, but they haven’t. The way it’s worked out, they’re there if I need them, and they’re not there when I don’t.”
She and Nelson had two sons, Daniel and James, before they divorced in June 1975.
Margaret June Blair was born in San Francisco on Oct. 30, 1932. Abandoned by her father at eight months and by her mother at age 3, she became a ward of the State of California and grew up with at least eight families.
Blair modeled and attended four high schools in Los Angeles before she made her onscreen debut as a “Miss Lonelyhearts” columnist on CBS’ Our Miss Brooks in 1956, leading to a contract at 20th Century Fox.
In addition to Hell Bound, she appeared in the films Man of a Thousand Faces, My Man Godfrey, Top Secret Affair and This Could Be the Night and on episodes of Conflict and Bachelor Father in 1957.
After being engaged to musician Nino Temple — she was the inspiration for his song “Loonie ‘Bout Junie” — and reportedly dating the likes of Bobby Darin, Dick Sargent and Lindsay Crosby, son of Bing Crosby, Blair married Nelson.
Before they were wed, Blair played a woman who drew the admiration of both Nelson boys on Ozzie and Harriet and then another woman whom David hires to replace a vacationing secretary.
Blair’s résumé also included turns on Hawaiian Eye, Sea Hunt and Bat Masterson and The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) and A Fever in the Blood (1961) on the big screen. Her last onscreen credit came with Ozzie and Harriet.
David Nelson died in 2011 of colon cancer at age 74.
In addition to her sons, survivors include her granddaughter, Paige. “She loved being a grandmother,” her daughter-in-law said.