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Kris and Rick Nelson, 1964.
|Born||Sharon Kristin Harmon
June 25, 1945
|Other names||Kristin Nelson Tinker|
|Occupation||Actress and artist|
|Spouse(s)||Ricky Nelson (1963-1982)
Mark Tinker (1988-2000)
|Children||Tracy Nelson (daughter)
Matthew Nelson (son)
Gunnar Nelson (son)
Sam Nelson (son)
|Parents||Tom Harmon (1919-1990)
Elyse Knox (1917-2012)
|Relatives||Mark Harmon (brother)
Kelly Harmon (sister)
The daughter of the American football star Tom Harmon and the actress Elyse Knox, she married Nelson in 1963 and joined their family television show. The couple had four children, but their extravagant lifestyle forced Nelson to tour for long periods, placing great pressure on the marriage. A long-fought divorce was finally granted before Nelson's death in an air-crash in 1985.
In 1988, she married Mark Tinker, who encouraged her to paint. Her brightly coloured primitives found favour with Jacqueline Kennedy and Mia Farrow, among other celebrities, and they form the basis of her coffee-table autobiography Out of My Mind.
Following her marriage to Nelson in 1963, Harmon joined the Nelson family television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as a regular cast member, first appearing in the episode, "Rick's Wedding Ring".
In 1965, she co-starred with Nelson in the romantic comedy, Love and Kisses, in which they demonstrate the troubles of a young couple of school age who get married — an "inspired casting", according to one critic.
Subsequently, she played Officer Jim Reed's wife Jean on Adam-12, guest-starred on other series and appeared in a few theatrical films, including The Resurrection of Broncho Billy, which won an Academy Award for best live action short film.
She retired from acting in 1982 following Liar's Moon.
She made her living as an artist, receiving a career boost when Jacqueline Kennedy purchased one of her paintings. She became a favorite of several Hollywood collectors including Mia Farrow, Tyne Daly and Dwight Yoakam. Her work, which is "widely acclaimed", is in the primitive genre, and has been likened to that of Grandma Moses. 
Her paintings are conceived without perspective and are brightly colored with many figures included. Judy Blundell said, "Any symbolism is straightforward and honest. As an artist she is not concerned with being clever or elusive; she is simply using her talent as a means of true visual documentation."
Subjects include When the Kennedys Were in the White House (1964) and The Day He Died (1990), a memorial to her father which is painted on a window frame and depicts a country church and clouds raining. In 1999, Nelson's paintings were published in a coffee-table-sized autobiography, Out of My Mind. The paintings document her life story and are supplemented with diary entries and poems.
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Marriage to Rick Nelson
On December 25, 1961, Harmon began dating Ricky Nelson. The Nelson and Harmon families had long been friends and the young couple had much in common: quiet dispositions, Hollywood upbringings and high-powered, domineering fathers.
During the winter holiday season of 1962-63, the couple announced their engagement, and were married on April 20, 1963, in St. Martin of Tours Church in Hollywood before 400 guests in a 30-minute Catholic ceremony. Harmon was pregnant, and Nelson later described the union as a "shotgun wedding". Nelson, a non-practicing Protestant, received instruction in Catholicism at the insistence of the bride's parents, and signed a pledge to have any children of the union baptized in the Catholic faith. The newlyweds honeymooned in the Bahamas.
In 1975, the Nelsons were on the verge of breaking up but Harmon would have had no parental support; the devoutly Catholic Harmons strongly disapproved of divorce. Nelson and Harmon each had affairs outside the marriage. Nelson engaged in one night stands on the road and Harmon's closer-to-home liaisons included athletes and musicians. In 1976, Harmon and 17-year-old Ronald Reagan, Jr. were discovered having sex in his parents' bed by Secret Service agents. When Nelson returned from a tour in 1977, he discovered Harmon had moved him out of their home and into a rented house. In less than a month, she found him there with two Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders. Nelson later said that she set him up to use the incident against him in court.
In October 1977, Harmon filed for divorce and asked for alimony, custody of their four children and a portion of community property. The couple temporarily resolved their differences but Harmon retained her attorney to pursue a permanent break. Both spent enormous sums of money — Harmon on parties, Nelson on renting a private Lear jet.
In April 1980, they bought Errol Flynn's 1941 Mulholland Drive estate for $750,000. Harmon wanted Nelson to give up music, spend more time at home, and focus on acting, but the family enjoyed a recklessly expensive lifestyle, and Harmon's extravagant spending forced Nelson to tour relentlessly. The impasse over Nelson's career created unpleasantness at home. Nelson toured as often as possible. Harmon began drinking heavily and left the children in the care of household help.
In October 1980, Harmon moved into an upstairs room at the Mulholland Drive house, and again filed for divorce. She was determined to take everything she possibly could and leave Nelson ruined. Attempts to negotiate a preliminary settlement agreement were unsuccessful. In January 1981, Harmon's attorney noted that Nelson's assets were insufficient to warrant lengthy proceedings, and recommended a quick settlement. Harmon replaced her lawyer with a more aggressive attorney. In February 1981, Harmon was temporarily granted custody of the children and $3,600 in spousal support. Nelson was required to pay a number of family expenses such as property taxes, doctor bills, and school tuitions. Harmon and her lawyers believed Nelson had a hidden cache of wealth, but such a thing did not exist. Nelson was almost broke. Accusations of drug and alcohol use and poor parenting were exchanged between the Nelsons and, after two years of acrimony, they were divorced in December 1982. The divorce was financially devastating for Nelson with attorneys and accountants taking over $1 million.
Harmon and Nelson had four children. Their first, daughter Tracy Kristine Nelson, was born six months after the wedding on October 25, 1963, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. She weighed four pounds, one ounce, and was slightly premature. As a pre-schooler, she appeared in Yours, Mine, and Ours with Lucille Ball. In her teens, she attended the exclusive Westlake School for Girls. During her parents' marital difficulties, she did not get along with her mother and stayed with her father in the Flynn house despite the temporary divorce agreement. In 1982, she told People her parents had been too young when they started a family. She recalled dressing up like a mermaid for an entire week as a child in an attempt to attract their attention. Nelson left his estate to his four children.
Their fourth child, Sam Hilliard Nelson, was born August 29, 1974. At six years, he was placed in the care of his maternal grandparents, Tom and Elyse Harmon of Brentwood, because of Harmon's alcohol abuse, unpredictable behavior and sporadic suicidal tendencies. Sam came to call his grandfather "Pop".
In 1987, two years after Nelson's death, Harmon was undergoing drug rehabilitation when her brother Mark Harmon and his wife Pam Dawber petitioned for custody of Kristin's youngest son Sam, on the grounds that Kristin was incapable of good parenting. Sam's psychiatrist testified that the thirteen-year-old boy depicted his mother as a dragon and complained about her mood swings and how she prevented him from being with his siblings.
Mark Harmon dropped his custody bid when Kristin's lawyer insinuated that witnesses could be produced who had snorted cocaine with Dawber. Kristin was given custody, with Mark Harmon being granted visitation rights. The two siblings and Sam entered family counseling.
Marriage to Mark Tinker
She married Mark Tinker in 1988; they divorced in 2000.
- Nash, Eric P. "Books in Brief: Nonfiction; California Dreamin' ", The New York Times, November 16, 1997. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
- Bashe 145
- Selvin 150
- "Nelsons combine teenage fun romance in 'Love and Kisses'", The Dispatch, Lexington, p. 34, September 14, 1965
- ""Life after 'Ozzie' and 'Harriet'", The Blade, Toledo, September 28, 1997, p. 86
- Scott, Vernon (1999). "Dynastic Hollywood Family". UPI Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- "Kristin and Rick Nelson", Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1974. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
- Gale Group. Contemporary Authors, Volume 171, p. 410, Gale/Cengage Learning, ISBN 0-7876-2677-5, ISBN 978-0-7876-2677-8. Snippet view on Google Books
- Blundell, Judy. "Naive art draws on artist’s desire to tell story", Taylor Daily Press, February 1, 2009. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
- Nelson Tinker, Kristin (1999), Out of My Mind, Abrams, ISBN 0-8109-3691-7, http://books.google.com.au/books?id=TCJ8QgAACAAJ&dq=Nelson+%22Out+of+My+Mind%22&cd=6
- Bashe, Philip (1992). Teenage Idol, Travelin' Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson, pp. 138,140-1, Hyperion: New York. ISBN 1-56282-969-6
- Selvin, Joel (1990). Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation, p. 140, Contemporary Books, Inc.: Chicago. ISBN 0-8092-4187-0
- Bashe 139
- Bashe 140
- Bashe 142
- Selvin 149
- Bashe 144
- Selvin 137,149
- Selvin pp. 184-5
- Bashe p. 206
- Selvin p. 267
- Selvin p. 230
- Bashe p. 207
- Selvin pp. 236, 238
- Bashe pp. 214-5
- Selvin p. 246
- It remained Nelson's home until his death in 1985 (Selvin p. 246).
- Selvin p. 251
- Bashe p. 218
- Bashe p. 219
- Selvin p. 252
- Bashe p. 220
- Selvin p. 254
- Selvin p. 259
- Selvin p. 260
- Bashe p. 221
- Bashe pp. 144, 225
- Selvin p. 151
- Bashe p. 250
- Selvin p. 171
- Bashe p. 224
- Selvin p. 255
- Bashe p. 225
- Bashe p. 271
- Bashe p. 158
- Selvin p. 173
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- Bashe p. 187
- Selvin p. 217
- Bashe p. 249
- Bashe p. 282
- Selvin pp. 296-9
- Darrach, Brad (September 7, 1987). "Life After Ozzie & Harriet". People. p. 41. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
- Official website
- Filmography for Kristin Nelson at The New York Times
- Kristin Harmon Nelson at the Internet Movie Database
- "Broncho Billy" (1970) short film