Jerry Mather’s was the show’s namesake, but his first audition for the show was about as nontraditional as it gets. He arrived to the audition in his Cub Scout uniform because he was in a hurry to make it his groups meeting that night. Mather’s young innocence is what won the hearts of the producers that day and he was offered the role as the show’s main character, Theodore Cleaver.
Wally was the stud of the show. The cool big brother who was always there to help out the Beaver. “Wally'” was actor Tony Dow, who apparently had no prior acting experience when he auditioned for the show. There was a different TV show that Dow had auditioned for, but was cancelled after just one episode. The producers liked his style and called him later for his role on “Leave it to Beaver.”
The amazing mom on the show was played perfectly by Barbara Billingsley. As June Cleaver, Billingsley portrayed the mom that everyone wish they had. Fun fact: June Cleaver wore pearls every episode because she wanted to hide her neck’s indent.
Why The Heels?
Billingsley used to wear flat shoes in early episodes but later, she switched to heels as her onscreen sons began experiencing growth. In order to maintain her height gap with them, she used heels to gain extra height. Very clever June.
So where the hell did the Cleavers live? Speculation has been made for years that the family may have lived in Wisconsin, but that got thrown out the window when the Beaver wanted to buy a surfboard in later episodes. Regardless of speculation, producers later revealed that the location was just a fictitious town of Mayfield, with no particular state in mind.
One episode shows some pulled back footage of the Cleavers’ hometown, filled with diners and a church steeple, making viewers wonder where it was. That scene was shot in Skokie, Illinois, for all of you that have ever wondered.
The Many Faces of Eddie Haskell
We all have had a friend like Eddie Haskell in our lives. That one friend who is just a full on suck up to the parents, all the while getting us in boatloads of trouble because of their bad decisions. The real actor who played Eddie Haskell became a Los Angeles police officer. Rumors that he changed his persona and became the famous rocker, Alice Cooper, gained popularity but Eddie, actor Ken Osmond, joined the Los Angeles Police Department and stayed on the force for 18 years.
As we mentioned in the previous slide, Eddie Haskell (a.k.a. Ken Osmond) was a Los Angeles Police officer for 18 years. In 1980, Ken Osmond was chasing down a suspect in a foot chase when he was ambushed and shot three times. Luckily, the Eddie Haskell actor was saved by his bulletproof vest and the suspect was soon apprehended.
Ward Cleaver Had a Ministry
Ward Cleaver, played by actor Hugh Beaumont, was the dad we all wished for. Understanding, nurturing, and always there for his family, setting good moral examples for his sons. In his real life, Hugh Beaumont was a minister of the Methodist Church. Acting became his job later in life but never as important as his ministry.
No Rear Windshield?
I never noticed this till researching this post. If you look closely when Ward drives the family in his classy car, there is no rear windshield?Why would they do that? It was removed by the production crew due because many shots caught an unwanted glare so they decided to just take it out. Problem solved!
This One is Odd
Did you know that one episode of Leave it to Beaver was censored by the FCC? You know why? Because a scene showed a toilet. Yeah, crazy right? It was the episode where Wally and the Beaver tried to keep a baby alligator. Somehow in those early days of TV, it was unacceptable to show a toilet bowl. It’s hard to imagine in the world we live in today where cussing and graphic violence and nudity are part of network television.
Funny, But Not Too Funny
While the show had canned laughter, the producers were careful to try to keep the laughs to a minimum. The production staff didn’t want the show to be an over-the-top comedy because of the nature of a family with growing kids. If a line ever got too many laughs, they removed it from the script.
My Two Dads
So wait…there were two Ward Cleavers? Yep! The original pilot episode had casted Max Showalter as awesome father, Ward Cleaver. When that episode aired it got ok reviews and was almost 6 months before the main series debuted. When it did get a full production run, Hugh Beaumont replaced Showalter and we all got the dad we really needed.
The Beaver Makes a Record
Jerry Mathers, much like todays Disney kids, was multi-talented and being the mega-star that he was during his era, thought it would be a good idea to release an album. You know, strike while the iron’s hot. His network had the actor record a single, titled ‘Don’t ‘Cha Cry.’ Have you ever heard of it? Probably not. After its release, rumors spread at just how terrible it was and that was the last we ever heard of the singing Beaver.
We all fell in love with the Wally we had seen over the years, but did you know there was another actor who played the role in the series pilot? The young actor was named Paul Sullivan. His role was replaced by Tony Dow – the only real Wally in my book – when the series began production.
Dad Didn’t Really Like The Show
Hugh Beaumont was a church going man and was always professional on the set and friendly to the kids. Later in life he revealed that he harbored a deep sadness in his life and confessed that he blamed it on the show. Beaumont said that it was because left his family in Minnesota when he went to California to be in the show. Here’s the twist: Hugh’s daily routine was to drive his wife and her mother around. Since he was gone, his son, Hunter, drove them in his absence. On one of those drives Hunter lost control of the car, killing Beaumont’s mother-in-law in the crash.
It Was Almost Called Something Else
The show was supposed to be originally titled “Wally and the Beaver.” However, there were worries that viewers may misunderstand what the concept of the show would actually consist of. To avoid confusion, they decided on the title “It’s a Small World” for the pilot episode. Glad that didn’t stick!
Dad is the Director?
Not only was Hugh Beaumont the lovable dad who was also a minister, he jumped into the director’s chair as well! If you look back on the credits, you will see that in addition to directing, he also did some writing as well. That is one heck of a good hire!
The Best Brat
The character Eddie Haskell is everyones favorite smarty-pants and that helped to rank that character as #2 all-time in TV Guide’s list of “TV’s 10 Biggest Brats” on its March 27, 2005 issue.
Time to Part Ways
All good things come to an end eventually and Leave It To Beaver was no exception to the rule. While some shows run out of gas and get cancelled due to low ratings, Beaver was still enjoying fair ratings when it aired its last episode. The biggest reason the show came to its end was that Jerry Mathers resigned when he started high school. After a long series of talks with the studio, it was decided that the show would not be the same without him and that was the end of the series.
A TV First
Millions tuned in to say goodbye to their favorite family. When the show aired its last episode, it was the very first American program to have its own series finale. Something that is now a celebrated tradition of all TV series finales.