Kristin Nelson Biography

(American Primitive Painter, Actress and Author)

Birthday: June 25, 1945 (Cancer)

Born In: Burbank, California, United States

Sharon Kristin Nelson was an American primitive painter, author and actress, also noted as the daughter of American football star Tom Harmon, and for her marriages with famous American actor, musician, singer-songwriter Ricky Nelson and American television producer and director Mark Tinker. She thrived in creating a niche with her brightly coloured painting that were conceived without perspective and included several figures. Her paintings found favour with many celebrities like Jacqueline Kennedy and Mia Farrow. Two of her noted paintings are The Day He Died and When the Kennedys Were in the White House. The latter was purchased by Kennedy. The coffee-table-sized autobiography of Kristin, Out of My Mind, includes her paintings that are supplemented with diary entries and poems and document her life story. Her acting pursuits, include starring in the television sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and the comedy film Love and Kisses with her first husband, Ricky, and featuring in other on-screen works, including the series Adam-12 and films The Resurrection of Broncho Billy and Liar's Moon.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Sharon Kristin Harmon

Died At Age: 72


Spouse/Ex-: Mark Tinker (m. 1988–2000), Ricky Nelson (m. 1963–1982

father: Tom Harmon

mother: Elyse Knox

siblings: Kelly Harmon, Mark Harmon

children: Gunnar Nelson, Matthew Nelson, Sam Nelson, Tracy Nelson

Born Country: United States

Writers Actresses

Died on: April 27, 2018

place of death: Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

U.S. State: California

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Childhood & Early Life

Sharon Kristin Harmon was born on June 25, 1945, in Burbank, California, as the eldest child of American football star, military pilot, sports broadcaster and actor Tom Harmon, and American actress, model, and fashion designer Elyse Knox. Actress Kelly Harmon is her sister, while television and film actor Mark Harmon is her brother.

Kristin studied at the independent, Catholic, all-girls, college-preparatory high school Marymount High School, Bel Air, along with children of several other celebrities. She became a close friend of Mia Farrow in the school.

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Painting Pursuits

Kristin began her painting career at 17. First one-woman art show of Kristin, whose work was in the primitive genre and comparable to that of American folk artist Grandma Moses, was held in 1967. Her brightly coloured primitive paintings featuring many figures and conceived without perspective found favour with several celebrities like Jacqueline Kennedy, Dwight Yoakam, Mia Farrow, and Tyne Daly. Oil paintings of Kristin sold for up to $5,000 during the 1970s.

One of her noted paintings When the Kennedys Were in the White House (1964) was purchased by Jacqueline Kennedy. This only boosted her rising painting career. Another remarkable painting of the artist The Day He Died (1990) was made as a memorial to her father. It was made on a window frame and featured a country church and rain clouds. Both the paintings and several others were later published in her coffee-table-sized autobiography Out of My Mind. The paintings in the book are supplemented with diary entries and poems and document the life story of the painter.

Showbiz Career

After marrying Ricky Nelson, one of the top teen idols of that time, Kristin started featuring in the real-life Nelson family starrer and ABC aired American television sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet with the October 9, 1963, broadcast episode, Rick's Wedding Ring. She appeared as a regular cast member in a total of 30 episodes on the show; the last one aired on March 5, 1966 (Rick’s Assistant).

Kristin also starred with Ricky in the 1965 American romantic comedy film Love and Kisses, which was based on the 1963 stage play of Anita Rowe Block bearing the same name. Ricky’s father, Ozzie Nelson, wrote the screenplay of the film and produced and directed it.

She starred with Johnny Crawford in the 1970 live action short Western film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy. Directed by James Rokos and narrated by Ricky and Ruth Hussey, the film marked one of the first works of John Carpenter and went on to win an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.

In 1975, she featured as Jean Reed, wife of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer Jim Reed, in three episodes of the American television police procedural drama Adam-12. She also guest featured on several other series.

She played a prostitute in the 1982 American romantic drama Liar’s Moon. The film also starred Matt Dillon and Cindy Fisher. Kristin took retirement from acting thereafter.

Life with Ricky Nelson

Kristin met Ricky Nelson for the first time as "just another 12-year-old fan" of the rock & roll star, and started dating him from December 25, 1961. The two had a lot in common, including their quiet dispositions and upbringings as star kids and as families of the two had long been friends, the couple’s union only came as a nice surprise.

Kristin Nelson got engaged to Ricky in 1962 and married him at just 17 years of age in a Catholic ceremony at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Los Angeles on April 20, 1963. Kristin was pregnant at that time and the marriage was later described by Ricky as a shotgun wedding. Ricky was a non-practicing Protestant and received instruction in Catholicism after Kristin’s parents insisted. He signed a pledge that one of the couple’s children would be raised in the Catholic faith.

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The couple’s first child, Tracy, was born at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, on October 25, 1963. They had three more children together, twin sons Gunnar Eric Nelson and Matthew Gray Nelson, born on September 20, 1967, and youngest son, Sam Hilliard Nelson, born on August 29, 1974.

The lavish lifestyle of the family led Ricky to tour for long periods which took a toll on the couple’s relationship. Their marriage hit the rocks by 1975 and was on the verge of breaking.

In 1977, after returning from a tour, Ricky found that Kristin had moved him out of their house into a rented house. In less than a month’s time, Kristin found Ricky with two Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders in the rented house. According to claims made by Ricky, Kristin had set up the whole incident to use it against him in court. In October that year, Kristin Nelson filed for divorce and asked for the custody of their four children, divorce alimony payments and a portion of community property. The couple, however, resolved their differences temporarily.

Kristin and Rick purchased the 1941 Mulholland Drive estate of Errol Flynn for $750,000 in April 1980. Kristin insisted Ricky to spend more time at home and wanted him to concentrate on his acting career and end his music career, but Ricky continued with the latter and toured relentlessly. This disagreement over Ricky’s career only deteriorated the already strained relationship leading Kristin to file another divorce application in October 1980.

Meanwhile, Kristin Nelson became an alcoholic and left her four children in the care of household help. What followed was a very public and controversial divorce case, which was extensively covered by the media. Kristin received temporary custody of the children apart from $3,600 in spousal support in February 1981, and Ricky was asked to pay certain family expenses, including school tuition, medical bills, and property taxes. The divorce, which was financially devastating for Ricky, was finalised on December 27, 1982.

Tracy lived with her father at the Mulholland Drive house during her parents' marital difficulties. She became an actress, dancer, and writer. Gunnar Eric and Matthew Gray shifted to their father’s place after turning 18. They became singer/songwriters and formed the American rock band Nelson.

Sam Hilliard was initially taken care of by his aunt Kelly during his parents' divorce battle. He was then placed in the care of his maternal grandparents, before he went on to live with Kristin’s brother Mark Harmon and his wife, Pam Dawber. Kristin and Mark went into a custody battle of Sam in 1987, while Kristin was undergoing drug rehabilitation. Mark later dropped the custody petition when Kristin alleged Pam of using cocaine. Kristin retained custody of Sam, while Mark was granted visitation rights. Sam works in the music business. Meanwhile, Ricky died in a plane crash on December 31, 1985, and his estate was bequeathed to his four children.

Second Marriage & Later Life

Kristin Nelson married American television producer and director Mark Tinker on April 16, 1988. Her second marriage also culminated into divorce on May 25, 2000, following which she relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As confirmed by Tracy on Facebook on May 1, 2018, Kristin Nelson succumbed to a heart attack on April 27, 2018, at her Santa Fe, New Mexico home.

Kristin Nelson Movies

1. Love and Kisses (1965)

  (Romance, Comedy, Music)

2. Sonic Boom (1974)

  (Comedy, Short)

3. The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970)

  (Short, Western)

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