Today is actor Jerry Mathers’ 63rd birthday! Best known for his role as Beaver Cleaver on the classic series Leave it to Beaver (and The New Leave it to Beaver), he also appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock feature, The Trouble with Harry.
Jerry Mathers talked about his start as a child model from the age of two, which led to his acting career in “live” television in the early 1950s. He described such appearances as a western sketch on All Star Revue with Ed Wynn, in which he wore a diaper and six shooters and sidled up to the bar to recite his line: “I’m the toughest hombre in these here parts.” In feature films, he related how he was cast by Alfred Hitchcock for The Trouble With Harry and described how, in a real-life fire stunt gone wrong, Bob Hope saved him from the smoke and flames while shooting a scene in The Seven Little Foys. Mathers then spoke in great detail about the role and series for which he is most identified, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver. He discussed the premise of the show and the significance of its child’s point-of-view. He talked about each of the principal cast members and outlined their careers leading up to and following Leave It to Beaver. He recalled the plots and production of several classic episodes of the series, including “Captain Jack,” in which Wally and Beaver secretly keep a pet alligator; “A Horse Named Nick,” in which Wally and Beaver accept a horse in payment for work they did at a traveling circus; and “In the Soup,” in which Beaver falls into a billboard’s soup bowl display. Mathers described his post-Leave It to Beaver years in which he left show business to earn his degree, served in the National Guard, and worked in banking and real estate. He then described his return to full-time acting when he went on tour in the stage production “So Long, Stanley,” co-starring Tony Dow. Mathers discussed his return to the role of “Beaver” Cleaver in the 1980s in the made-for-television movie Still the Beaver and the subsequent series The New Leave It to Beaver. Lastly, Mathers talked about his charitable interests and current projects. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski.
Additionally, the Archive has an interview with popular TV mom, Barbara Billingsley— Leave it to Beaver’s “June Cleaver”; click here to watch her interview.
Richard Lewis was interviewed for five hours in Somers, NY. Lewis discussed his early career as a director and later show creator in radio. He talked about his transition to television as a producer (which included Blind Date) and his role in the creation of the popular and long-running western series Wagon Train as well as his work on the acclaimed anthology series Alcoa Premiere. He also discussed producing several successful pilots for such series as Leave It To Beaver, Bachelor Father, and McHale’s Navy. He talked about becoming the Vice President of MCA’s Revue Television, which later became Universal Television. He detailed producing one of the first television movies, The Borgia Stick, and his becoming an independent producer of feature films shortly thereafter.
Here’s a note we received from Archive interviewee Jerry Mathers regarding Leave it to Beaver’s 50th Anniversary — which is October 4th!
From Jerry Mathers:
Leave it to Beaver is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary on October 4th! Please
join me in watching Tom Bergeron interview my tv family and friends, Barbara Billingsley, Tony Dow, Ken Osmond, Frank Bank and of course me, on Good Morning America (Ch. 7) on Thursday, October 4th at 7:00 am.
And, we are also scheduled to be on the
KTLA Morning News “live” (Ch. 5) on Friday, October 5th between 8 and 10 am.TV Land will be hosting a 24 hour LITB marathon beginning on Saturday, October 6th at 8:00pm ET/PT concluding on Sunday, October 7th at 8:00pm ET/PT. The marathon includes the rarely seen 1957 pilot entitled “It’s a Small World.”