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Leave It To Beaver ......Classic Comedy.....Ordinary Family????

Leave It To Beaver

Category: Sitcom

Created by: Bob Mosher, and Joe Connelly

Stars: Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, and Jerry Mathers.

Number of Episodes: 234 (excluding pilot)

Original Channel: CBS (Season 1), ABC (Seasons 2-6)

Original Run: October 4, 1957 to June 20, 1963

Leave It to Beaver is an iconic American television situation comedy about an idealized American family of the mid-late 1950s and early 1960s. It stars Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as archetypal suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver with Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers as their sons, Wally and Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. Leave It to Beaver was notable for being the first prime time sitcom series told from a child's point-of-view. CBS first broadcast the show on October 4, 1957, but dropped it after one season. ABC picked it up and ran it for another five years, from October 2, 1958, to June 20, 1963. In his memoirs, Jerry Mathers states the move was the decision of the sponsor, Ralston Purina, who arranged a better deal with ABC than with CBS.

Leave It To Beaver proved to be a scheduling challenge for both networks, airing on four different evenings (Wednesday through Saturday) during the series' run. It was produced by Gomalco Productions (1957-1961) and by Kayro Productions (1961-1963), filmed at Revue Studios and distributed by MCA Television.

Although the later seasons of the series were filmed during a period when television shows were transitioning from black and white to color, Leave It to Beaver was filmed entirely in black and white. Leave It to Beaver was also the first prime time sitcom to have a final episode written expressly as a series finale.

The critics were favorable to Leave It to Beaver but the show never broke into the Nielsen Ratings top 30 in its six-season run; however, it proved to be much more popular in reruns. It also led to a reunion telemovie, Still the Beaver (1983), and a sequel series The New Leave It to Beaver (also known as Still the Beaver) that ran from 1985 to 1989. In 1997, a movie version was released to moderate acclaim. The first two seasons have been released to DVD. 

Leave It To Beaver



Jerry Mathers as Beaver in the premiere episode, "Beaver Gets 'Spelled", 1957.

Tony Dow as Wally Cleaver in "Beaver Gets 'Spelled", 1957.

June supervises the boys and their friends, Tooey and Eddie.

Doris Packer as school principal Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn.

Eddie, Wally, and Beaver go to the movies.

Martha Bronson buys Beaver a short-pants suit.

Leave It to Beaver follows the adventures of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, a good-natured, happy-go-lucky boy of average abilities, talents, and intelligence who's the youngest son of Ward and June Cleaver, an archetypal suburban couple living in the fictional community of Mayfield during the mid-late 50s and the early 60s. June and Ward are the parents not only of Beaver but of another son, Wally, who is Beaver's senior by five years.

Wally is a good student, a good athlete, and a popular boy with everyone. Episodes generally follow a simple formula: Beaver or Wally, (or both boys in cahoots with one another), get into trouble and then face their father for a moral lecture regarding their misbehavior. Mom is usually at hand to offer sympathy and nutritious meals.

Leave It To Beaver

Beaver attends Grant Avenue Grammar School, and Wally, Mayfield High School (after graduating from Grant Avenue in season one). Ward is a white collar, brief case-toting, office worker (though his profession is never disclosed) and June is a traditional 1950s-style full-time housewife. Ward's Uncle Billy and June's Aunt Martha are occasionally houseguests.

Beaver's friends include the perpetually apple-munching Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens) in the early seasons, and, later, Gilbert Bates (Stephen Talbot), as well as the old fireman, Gus (Burt Mustin). His sweet-natured-but-no-nonsense elementary school teachers are Miss Canfield (to whom Beaver declares his love in the episode entitled "Beaver's Crush") (Diane Brewster), Miss Alice Landers (Sue Randall) and Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn (Doris Packer), also the school's principal. Beaver's female nemeses in class are Judy Hensler (Jeri Weil) and later Penny Woods (Karen Sue Trent) while his first girlfriend is classmate Linda Dennison.

Beaver's brother Wally is popular with both peers and adults, getting into trouble much less frequently. He letters in three sports. He has little difficulty attracting girlfriends, among them Mary Ellen Rogers (Pamela Baird) and Julie Foster (Cheryl Holdridge). His pals include the awkward Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford (Frank Bank) and smart aleck Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), the archetype of the two-faced wise guy, a braggart among his peers and an obsequious yes man to the adults he mocks behind their backs. Wally comes down hard on both Lumpy and Eddie when they pick on Beaver.

The earliest seasons focus on Beaver's escapades at home, in the neighborhood, and at school. The writers were very inventive in creating diverse plots and situations that were appropriate, uncontrived, and natural for a young boy. Jerry Mathers' unaffected, deadpan delivery of his lines enhanced the naturalness of the situations. As the show entered its later seasons, Beaver took a back seat to Wally as episodes focused more and more on the concerns of a youth in his mid-late teens. Stories about Wally's dates, his after school jobs, and his car proliferated. The show's focus was consistently upon the two boys with no episodes featuring the marital concerns, problems, or interests of their parents. June and Ward were tirelessly depicted as loving spouses, conscientious parents, and upstanding citizens.

Click here for a great Leave It To Beaver video clip

Leave It To Beaver


Main Cast

Ward and June Cleaver in "Beaver Gets 'Spelled".

Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers in the season-one episode, "Beaver's Guest".

Jerry Mathers plays the show's title character, Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. When the show opens, Beaver is seven years old ("almost eight") and is in the second grade at Grant Avenue Grammar School. The casting directors noticed that Mathers was uneasy at the auditions and asked him where he'd rather be. Mathers replied that he'd rather be at his Cub Scout den meeting, where he was going after the audition. That boyish innocence got Mathers the part of Beaver.

Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver. Ward works in a white collar office job though his work is never specified. Before he made Ward Cleaver his acting trademark, Beaumont sometimes played villains in film and television. He directed a number of Leave It to Beaver episodes in the last two seasons, including the final, retrospective "Family Scrapbook." Ward was portrayed by Max Showalter (credited as Casey Adams) in the pilot episode, "It's a Small World".

Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver. June is a fulltime housewife when the series opens. Her outside interests include social events and her sons' school programs. Purportedly, Billingsley consistently wore a pearl necklace throughout the series' run to hide a hollow (caused by a surgical scar) in her neck which would have caused shadows and high-heeled shoes were employed to offset the boys' growing height.

Tony Dow as Wally Cleaver. In the show's third episode, Ward says Wally is thirteen. Wally is popular with his peers, is in the eighth grade at Grant Avenue Grammar School, and pursues athletics. Wally was portrayed by Paul Sullivan in the pilot episode.

Leave It To Beaver

Supporting Roles

Larry Mondello and his mother, Margaret (Rusty Stevens and Madge Blake), 1957.

Ken Osmond as Eddie Haskell in "Cat Out of the Bag", 1957.

Jeri Weil as Judy Hensler, 1957.

Richard Deacon as Fred Rutherford.

Madge Kennedy as Martha Bronson in "Beaver's Short Pants", 1957.

Pamela Baird as Mary Ellen Rogers, 1958.

Ken Osmond as Eddie Haskell (November 1, 1957 — June 6, 1963 air dates). Eddie is a wise-cracking, smart-alec boy who plays up to the adults when they're present but mocks them once they leave the room. Eddie calls Beaver "young Theodore" in front of June and Ward but addresses the boy as "squirt" or "shrimp" when they're not about.

Diane Brewster as Miss Canfield (October 4, 1957 — March 21, 1958). Beaver's first-season teacher at Grant Avenue Grammar School. Brewster also played Miss Simms in the pilot episode.

Sue Randall as Miss Alice Landers (October 16, 1958 — June 6, 1963). Beaver's teacher, replacing Miss Canfield in the second season.

Doris Packer as Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn (October 4, 1957 — June 13, 1963). Beaver's first teacher and, later, the principal of Grant Avenue. Grammar School.

Leave It To Beaver

Stephen Talbot as Gilbert Bates. (March 19, 1959 — June 6, 1963) Before settling in Mayfield, the Bates family traveled a lot due to Gilbert's father's work, and "Gil," as his father John Bates[5] calls him, tends to make up stories about his family in order to get his classmates to accept him. Stephen Talbots's real-life father, Lyle Talbot, appeared in two episodes of the show as Mr. Dennison, father of Beaver's classmate, Linda Dennison. Linda was sweet on Beaver and invited him to her all-girl birthday party where he suffered miserably until he retreated unseen to Mr. Dennison's den. Lyle Talbot had no scenes with his son.

Rusty Stevens as Larry Mondello. (November 22, 1957 — June 6, 1963)

Richard Correll as Richard Rickover. (April 30, 1960 — October 18, 1962)

Stanley Fafara as Hubert "Whitey" Whitney. (October 4, 1957 — June 6, 1963)

Tiger Fafara as Tooey Brown. (November 15, 1957 — May 28, 1960)

Jeri Weil as Judy Hensler. (October 4, 1957 — October 15, 1960) Judy is Beaver's snitching, tattle tale nemesis on the show. It is Judy who provides the first lines in the series proper, when she is standing up in class and reading from a book in "Beaver Gets 'Spelled".

Karen Sue Trent as Penny Woods. (February 20, 1960 — January 20, 1962)

Burt Mustin as Gus the fireman, head of Auxiliary Firehouse No. 7 (October 4, 1957 — February 24, 1962). Beaver could always rely on Gus for sympathy and good advice in times of trouble. Gus works alongside Pete, who appears in the episode "Child Care".

Frank Bank as Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford (January 24, 1958 — May 30, 1963). Mutual school friend of Wally and Eddie.

Veronica Cartwright as Violet Rutherford, Lumpy's younger sister (February 19, 1959 — May 2, 1963). Cartwright also played Peggy MacIntosh in the episode "Don Juan Beaver".

Leave It To Beaver

Richard Deacon as Fred Rutherford (October 18, 1957 — May 23, 1963). Lumpy's pompous, demanding father and Ward Cleaver's co-worker.

Buddy Hart as Chester Anderson (November 8, 1957 — May 28, 1960). Buddy's father, John Hart, the star of the syndicated 50s television series, Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, appeared in one episode on the show as a scoutmaster. Though his son appeared in the same episode, the two had no scenes together.

Pamela Baird as Mary Ellen Rogers (April 16, 1958 — June 6, 1963), Wally's first girlfriend. Wally and Mary Ellen are a married couple in the show's spinoffs.

Cheryl Holdridge as Julie Foster (January 7, 1961 — April 11, 1963), another of Wally's girlfriends.

Madge Blake as Mrs. Mondello (June 25 1958 — February 27 1960). Larry's mother, Mrs. Mondello is a nervous woman who finds her son's misadventures exasperating.

Madge Kennedy as "Aunt" Martha Bronson (December 13, 1957 — March 28, 1963), June's aunt. Martha is a proper old maid who wants Beaver to wear a short pants suit and attend a prep school on the east coast.

Edgar Buchanan as Uncle Billy (December 30, 1960 — March 21, 1963), Ward's uncle. Billy is a fancyfree world traveller whom June does not trust completely because he fills her sons' heads with tales of irresponsible lifestyles.

Leave It To Beaver

The Name "Beaver"

In the final episode, "Family Scrapbook" (June 1963), the viewer learns that when "Beaver" was a baby, his older brother Wally mispronounced "Theodore" as "Tweedor." Ward and June felt "Beaver" sounded better and the name stuck. Theodore was known everafter as Beaver.

Purportedly, the writers chose the name because it suggested a perky, toothy, happy-go-lucky boy. Conversely, Mathers has said that the real reason for the name "Beaver" is that one of the show’s writers, Joe Connelly, had a shipmate called "The Beaver" in World War II. And, from that, came both Beaver's name and the family's name, "Cleaver."

Leave It To Beaver Theme Music

The show's theme, "The Toy Parade", was composed by David Kahn, Melvyn Leonard, and Mort Greene. For the final season, the song was given a jazz-like arrangement by veteran composer/arranger Pete Rugolo. An instrumental arrangement was used for the show's entire run though lyrics apparently existed with the original composition.

Leave It To Beaver


The show received two Emmy nominations in 1958 for Best New Program Series of the Year and Best Teleplay Writing - Half Hour or Less (Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher) for the premiere episode, "Beaver Gets 'Spelled".

In 1985, Jerry Mathers won a Young Artists Former Child Star Special Award. In 1988, Ken Osmond and Tony Dow were nominated for Young Artists Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Awards. In 2003, Diane Brewster was nominated for TV Land's Classic TV Teacher of the Year Award while, in 2005, Ken Osmond was nominated for TV Land's Character Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout Award.

Leave It To Beaver placed on Time's "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-Time" list.

Leave It To Beaver

Cultural Influence

Leave It to Beaver often aimed toward a moral lesson and is referenced even now as an emblem of simpler American times. Ward stated that his father "had a fine sense of values," and if Ward himself sometimes seemed possessed of the gentility of a man of the cloth, it may have come from Beaumont's own background: he had become an ordained minister before he took up an acting career. June, likewise, became a model of the archetypal suburban 1950s mother who wanted nothing more than to stay at home and take care of the family.

The show strongly promoted the importance of family. The recurring themes expounded parental expectations for children, while the moral messages stressed the importance of teaching children proper behavior. Proper parenting techniques and methods for resolving problems and achieving consensus were demonstrated.

The series was inventive in the sense that it portrayed the world through the eyes of a young boy and sometimes dealt with somewhat controversial subjects, such as alcoholism and divorce.

Leave It To Beaver

Urban Legends

In the mid 1970s, Mathers appeared on The Tomorrow Show hosted by Tom Snyder. Snyder pointed out that he hadn't worked for a long time and that there was rumor going around that he had been killed "in the war in Southeast Asia". Mathers replied that he had heard that rumor and that he had no idea how it got started.

The earliest appearance of the story in print was in a student newspaper at the University of Kansas in 1972. The author later admitted that she had only heard the story from someone who had heard it a party in Omaha, Nebraska earlier that year. The paper printed a retraction, but by then the story had spread throughout the U.S. The story was later attributed to a member of a defunct Omaha comedy improv group whose hobby was concocting outrageous stories and then convincing people they were true. "Beaver died in Vietnam" was a classic urban legend, memorable for its juxtaposition of idyllic 1950s imagery with the chaos and violence of the late 1960s.

Another urban legend was that actor Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) became porn star John Holmes. Holmes took Osmond's name and did several movies satirically under the name "Eddie Haskell". It started because there was some facial resemblance between the two men, which porn distributors exploited by using the name Eddie Haskell in advertising Holmes's films. Osmond brought a $25 million defamation suit against porn houses, producers and distributors. The California Supreme Court ruled for Mr. Holmes, saying the name was protected as a satire. This case set a precedent in the matter, and is still referred to in other cases in California today.






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