Leave It to Beaver - Wikipedia

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (1957-63)             236 EPISODES                    

For those of us who were around in the mid-fifties, Leave it to Beaver was the epitome of good, wholesome family entertainment. It seemed to have everything: a cute little kid named Theodore Cleaver (known as ‘the Beaver’ and portrayed by Jerry Mathers); his older brother Wally, played by likeable Tony Dow; ideal parents – Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) and his wife June (Barbara Billingsley), plus Wally’s best friend and all-round sleaze Eddie Haskell, memorably played by Ken Osmond. Most of my pals (and I) watched the show just to see what Eddie would do or say next to ingratiate himself to Mrs. Cleaver. Although the very personable Mathers played the lead character and seemed to get into trouble every episode, the inevitable outcome would see each situation resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, accompanied by a few stern, moralistic words of fatherly advice to ‘the Beaver’. Most of these troubling situations originated with Eddie Haskell in some way or another, but he always managed to avoid blame or responsibility. My mates and I thought he was the coolest indidual on the planet!

Leave It To Beaver'stars reunite for 60th anniversary of classic sitcom

Jerry Mathers & Tony Dow – then and now

By 1963 the series was still rating well, but both Mathers and Dow wanted to retire from acting to focus on their education. Consequently, production was halted and Leave it to Beaver became the first prime time American production to have a series finale. Later, Jerry served in the US Air Force National Guard during the Vietnam War, and was mistakenly reported to have been killed in action when a soldier with a similar name appeared on the ‘KIA’ list. In 1974, he earned a BA in Philosophy at Berkeley and worked in banking and real estate in the seventies. Barbara Billingsley took him under her wing when he was eight, and they remained close friends until her death fifty-three years later in 2010. She was ninety-four. As of September 2022, Jerry is the last surviving principle member of the cast.

Watch Leave it to Beaver, Season Three | Prime Video

Hugh Beaumont & Barbara Billingsley as Ward & June Cleaver

Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver) was born in Hollywood in 1945, three years before Jerry entered this world. As a youngster he was a Junior Olympics diving champion. Like Jerry, Tony’s acting mentor was Barbara Billingsley. He joined the US Army National Guard in 1965, and in the 1970s attended journalism school while working in contracting and construction.  During the nineties he was diagnosed with clinical depression, but it was cancer that took him in July 2022, at seventy-seven.

Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver) held a Master of Theology degree from USC. During the Second World War he did not serve. He was exempt by virtue of his status as a conscientious objector. A devout Methodist, he studied for the clergy before switching to acting, yet throughout his acting career he remained a lay minister. Hugh ultimately racked up 148 screen credits over thirty years in front of the cameras. Most of these credits were either TV appearances or in supporting roles on the big screen. Clearly, playing Ward Cleaver was the role that made him recognizable around the world.

Airplane! (1980)

Barbara speaking ‘jive’ in Airplane! (1980)

Lovely Barbara Billingsley modeled in New York City before landing a contract with MGM in 1945. She appeared in a few films in the forties and fifties (sometimes uncredited), but it was her switch to television in the mid-fifties that brought her worldwide recognition as June Cleaver. In 1980, she delighted movie audiences in the spoof comedy titled Airplane! (In Australia and some other countries it was known as Flying High). Playing against type, she portrayed a passenger capable of translating ‘jive’ talk, from two African-American passengers, for a confused white stewardess. As Mrs. Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver she personified the ludicrous Hollywood version of the ‘average American housewife’, as she vacuumed wearing high heels, a below the knee skirt or dress, and a string of gleaming white pearls around her neck! Only in Hollywood. In fairness to Barbara, the pearls were her idea; she needed to cover a surgical blemish on her neck with them.

21 "EDDIE HASKELL"- KEN OSMOND ideas | ken osmond, osmond, leave it to beaver

Ken Osmond as Eddie Haskell

Ken Osmond found acting jobs hard to come by after his stint as Eddie Haskell, the trouble-making truant in Leave it to Beaver, came to an end. So convincing was his portrayal, and so identified with the Eddie character had he become, other acting parts simply did not materialize. He had become the personification of the two-faced, brown-nosing buddy of Wally Cleaver. And it cost him his acting career. Unfortunately for Osmond, he was fourteen when the series began and twenty when it ended, so any thought of an Eddie Haskell ‘spin-off’ series was out of the question! He was just too old. Following a hitch in the US Army, he grew a moustache to disguise his identity, and joined the Los Angeles Police Force. As a long-time member of the vice squad he was shot and wounded three times in the line of duty, before retiring on a medical disability pension. Osmond’s real life journey was about as far removed from his Eddie Haskell character as could be imagined. He passed away less than three weeks before his seventy-seventh birthday in 2020.

Leave It To Beaver actor Ken Osmond is dead at age 76 | Daily Mail Online

Officer Osmond LAPD

A lesser-known member of the cast was Stanley Farfara who played a friend of ‘the Beaver’ named Whitey Whitney. Stanley appeared in fifty-seven episodes over the show’s six-year tenure. After its cancellation, he attended North Hollywood High School where he developed a liking for alcohol and learned how to play upon his fame on TV, albeit fleeting and minor as it was. He became friendly with the pop-rock band known as Paul Revere & the Raiders, and even moved in with them for a time. In the mid-sixties he discovered hard drugs.

Stanley Fafara Cause of Death, How did Stanley Fafara Die? - News

Stanley Fafara as Whitey Whitney

At the age of twenty-two he was briefly married in Los Angeles, but started supporting himself by dealing illegal drugs. Soon afterwards, he was convicted of breaking into pharmacies and sent to jail for a year. On his release he tried his hand as a roofer, waiter and janitor, but then descended into heroin use. In and out of rehab for years, he somehow managed to turn his life around by the mid-nineties. He finally conquered his addictions, only to find he had already contracted hepatitis C. He started a business designing web sites and kept in contact with other child actors who were in recovery, helping fellow addicts to stay clean and sober. In September 2003, however, he underwent surgery to repair a constricted intestine caused by a hernia and died from post-surgery complications. Some sites say acute hepatitis C was the cause of his death on his fifty-fourth birthday.


  1. It used to infuriate my brothers and me (as we watched the Beav every week without fail), that both brothers fretted endlessly about the dire parental reaction to any of their harebrained schemes, inevitably commencing with “dad hollering” and ending with some imagined lifetime domestic imprisonment, but in the end Ward NEVER “hollered”, and the punishment was, to our minds, NEVER sufficient.

  2. LITB is a wonderful family sitcom that has dated very well. I never thought Eddie Haskell as a cool guy at all. He was the resident blowhard jerk with a mean streak to him. Ken played the role marvelously. Eddie was needed because he provided the conflict that all drama must have. It was always rewarding to me to see Eddie put back in his place, not that he ever stayed there for long.
    Stephen Talbot (son of noted actor Lyle Talbot) played Beave’s friend Gilbert Gates. Gilbert was kind of Beav’s Eddie Haskell, except Gilbert could be even sneakier than Eddie but never quite as lousy as Eddie. Stephen went on to become an award winning documentary producer.

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