b. Peggy Lou Snyder, 18 July 1909, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, d. 2 October 1994, Laguna Beach, California, USA. Born into a showbusiness family Hilliard started out as a singer and in the early 30s was hired by popular band leader, and future husband, Ozzie Nelson. Although she had appeared in a 1932 film, The Campus Mystery, it was in the mid-30s that she began a parallel career in Hollywood, often in musicals, that continued into the mid-40s. Her films in these years included Follow The Fleet (1936, singing Irving Berlin’s ‘Get Thee Behind Me Satan’ and Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson’s ‘Where Are You?’), New Faces Of 1937 and The Life Of The Party (both 1937, the latter with a screenplay by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Viola Brothers Shore), Cocoanut Grove (1938, co-starring with Fred MacMurray), Juke Box Jenny (1942), and Swingtime Johnny (1944).
During these same years she also appeared in a number of dramas. With her husband, Hilliard (now using her married name) became very popular on radio from 1944 with their Ozzie And Harriet Show. In 1952 they made a film, Here Come The Nelsons, which was based on the radio show and also featured their real-life sons, David and Ricky. After the film, they started up the same format as a television situation comedy, The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet, which ran for 14 years. In 1957, during one episode of the show son Ricky sang a song that went into the hit parade and helped launch his independent career as rock singer Rick Nelson. In 1973, Harriet and her husband starred in a short-lived situation comedy, Ozzie’s Girls, directed by Ozzie and David Nelson, in which, their sons having moved on, the couple take in two female lodgers. From the 50s onwards, she had also appeared on television, as either herself or in acting roles, in shows such as The Love Boat (in a 1977 episode), Fantasy Island (a 1978 episode) and Happy Days (a 1982 episode).