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Friday, December 24, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Don Defore, Ozzie Nelson's TV Neighbor

AP

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Actor Don DeFore, the flustered family man in "Hazel" and TV's quintessential next-door neighbor in "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," has died. He was 80.

Mr. DeFore died of cardiac arrest Wednesday evening at St. John's Hospital and Health Center, son Ron said yesterday.

A television, film and stage actor, Mr. DeFore also served as president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1954 and as a member in the 1980s of then-President Reagan's Peace Corps advisory council.

Reagan and Mr. DeFore acted together in the 1954 film "She's Working Her Way Through College." Mr. DeFore also was a GOP convention delegate for Reagan and for George Bush.

Mr. DeFore's best-known role was as lawyer-family man George Baxter in TV's "Hazel," a comedy about a headstrong maid (Shirley Booth) who dominated the Baxter household.

The series ran for four seasons, from 1961-65, on NBC, before moving to CBS in 1965-66 for one season without DeFore. In ABC's "Ozzie & Harriet," Mr. DeFore played opposite the Nelson family from 1952-58. As neighbor Thorny Thornberry, he regularly offered the easygoing Ozzie bits of ill-timed advice.

Thorny was one of the earliest of television's neighbor-sidekicks, a tradition that continues today.

Mr. DeFore also appeared in two dozen movies with such stars as John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Doris Day, Mickey Rooney and Rock Hudson.

Mr. DeFore's last television guest star roles were in the 1980s on episodes of "St. Elsewhere" and "Murder, She Wrote."

Mr. DeFore was born Aug. 25, 1913, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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