How the Funeral of Kristin Nelson, Actress and Painter, Revealed a Family Feud

Kristin Nelson, the sister of “NCIS” star Mark Harmon and the former wife of teen idol Ricky Nelson, died on April 27, 2018, at the age of 72 from a sudden heart attack. Her funeral, however, exposed a long-standing rift between her and her brother over drugs and custody issues.

A Troubled Marriage and Divorce

Kristin Nelson was born on June 25, 1945, in Burbank, California, to football star Tom Harmon and actress Elyse Knox. She had two younger siblings, Kelly and Mark, who also became actors. She met Ricky Nelson, the son of 1950s’ icons Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, when she was 12 years old and fell in love with him and his family. They married in 1963, when she was 18, and had four children: Tracy, Matthew, Gunnar and Sam.

Kristin Nelson joined her husband and his family on their sitcom “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” as a regular cast member. She also co-starred with him in the movie “Love and Kisses” in 1965. She later appeared in other TV shows and films, such as “Adam-12” and “The Resurrection of Broncho Billy”.

However, their marriage was plagued by drug and alcohol abuse, which led to their divorce in 1982. Kristin Nelson admitted that she tried to save their marriage by joining him on the road and getting involved in “road stuff that is really not good for anyone”. She also said that she sought therapy, but he did not. She claimed that her family denied that there was a drug problem and did not help her.

A Tragic Loss and a Bitter Custody Battle

In 1985, Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash along with his fiancée Helen Blair and five members of his band. He was 45 years old. Kristin Nelson was devastated by his death and struggled to cope with her grief and addiction. She also had to face a bitter custody battle with her brother Mark Harmon over her youngest son Sam.

Mark Harmon, who was a successful actor and producer, accused his sister of being an unfit mother and filed for temporary custody of Sam in 1987. He claimed that Sam was living in a drug-infested environment with his mother and was exposed to violence and neglect. He also said that he tried to help his sister by paying for her rehab and offering her a place to stay, but she refused.

Kristin Nelson denied the allegations and fought back. She said that Mark Harmon was trying to take away her son because he wanted to raise him as his own. She also said that he was motivated by money and fame. She accused him of being abusive and controlling towards her and her children.

The custody battle lasted for three years and ended with a settlement in 1990. Kristin Nelson retained custody of Sam, but Mark Harmon had visitation rights. The siblings did not speak to each other for years after the ordeal.

A New Life and a Sudden Death

Kristin Nelson remarried in 1988 to TV producer and director Mark Tinker, the stepson of Mary Tyler Moore. They divorced in 2000. She moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she pursued her passion for painting. She had her first art show in 1967 and sold her paintings to celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Mia Farrow, Tyne Daly and Dwight Yoakam. Her paintings were colorful and whimsical, depicting scenes from her life and memories.

On April 27, 2018, Kristin Nelson died of a heart attack at her home in Santa Fe. She was 72 years old. Her daughter Tracy confirmed her death on Facebook and said that she was “surrounded by love”. Her funeral was held on May 5 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

However, not all of her family members attended the funeral. Mark Harmon did not show up, nor did he send any condolences or flowers. He reportedly had not spoken to his sister since their custody dispute. His absence sparked rumors that he still harbored resentment towards her and did not forgive her.

Kristin Nelson’s death marked the end of a turbulent life that was filled with love, loss, fame, addiction and conflict. Her funeral revealed a family feud that had not been resolved before she passed away.

Doms Desk

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