My 1958 TV Guide interview

 

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Here is my article from the 1958 issue of TV Guide!…

TV Guide, June 28th, 1958

Master Jerry Mathers who is 65 pounds dripping wet and is by his own admission, known a heckuva lot better as TV’s Beaver Theodore Cleaver, recently submitted to an interview on what it’s like to be 10 years old and the star of your own successful television show. The show of course is CBS’s Leave It To Beaver, a lively chronicle of doings in the slingshot set of the season’s surprise hit, but incidentally it moves to ABC next fall. The interview took place in the producer’s office.

The star showed up bright eyed, mother in tow, wearing powder blue cords, a spanking new leather motorcycle jacket with ivy league belt, two blue eyes, and a smile wrapped several times around his face. He stashed his mother outside the door and plunked himself down in the producer’s chair. Acting he said is, “OK for kids, real keen, it really is”, but he added, beginning to bounce, “when I grow up I want to be something really good – a court lawyer who tries murders and stuff like that.”

While we were busy ruminating on the happy fact that the real life Beaver was all boy and a yard wide, Jerry explained his plan to be a, “private eye first, ‘cause to be a lawyer, my Dad says you gotta know about the police and what they’re doing.”

Just then a press agent produced a note filling in some highlights of Mather’s career. Jerry was born June 2, 1948, in Soux City, Iowa. Jerry’s father came to California shortly thereafter to become special counselor at Birmingham General High School in the San Fernando Valley. Jerry’s career began at the age of two when his mother took to heart a well intention sales lady’s suggestion that he ought to be in television. Presto, he landed on the Ed Wynn Show. This led to more television and later to movies. The most recent being Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry and Bob Hope’s The Seven Little Boys. “’Course, I don’t remember much about that first show,” the Beaver was saying, “I did that when I was little.”

Beaver in real life has a sister named Susie who is 7, a brother named Jimmy who is 3, a cat named Tuffy and a dog named Ron Ton Ton. “We all watch The Beaver show together,” he explained. “My little brother gets up and marches around the room pointing at the TV set and yelling ‘Beaver Beaver Beaver’.” Sometimes he’s a pest. “My dog, his great great great great grandfather was Rin Tin Tin. Honest! And oh, yea, I got an ant farm too, you know, one of those glass things where you can watch the ants dig tunnels.”

We resisted the temptation to ask how the ants enjoyed the show and settled for a discussion on parents and little sisters. Beaver, most of his friends now call him Beaver instead of Jerry, said he could give almost unqualified approval of his parents. “Mine are real swell, really.” And of sisters? “Most of the time, except when they’re being pests and wanting to do something you don’t want to do.” On television, Beaver isn’t supposed to like girls but he, Jerry Mathers does. What girls? “I don’t think I’m going to tell you.

Jerry explained how he was an expert pitcher, little league aspirant, cub scout, and crack shot with a trusty air rifle. “Yesterday, I shot four nines and a bulls eye. And oh yeah, I’m a rockhound. That means I collect rocks” “What kind?” “Oh, different kinds. Say, if you see any, will you bring some back for me, huh?”

For some reason, this lead into a discussion of dramatic art, Beaver variety. The Beaver who reportedly earns a weekly $500 for said art, said he was never scared before a camera. “Mr. Tokar, he’s our director, shows me how to do it. If it’s a big dramatic scene, if it’s not a big dramatic scene – he shows me how to do it anyways.” Crying for the camera is duck soup to a man of the Beaver’s resources.

“I just think of something sad like what Beaver would be thinking of, like losing a dog if Ron Ton Ton was sick or something, then I can cry real good.” As for those scrapes the fictional Beaver keeps getting into, well, the real life Beaver confesses to a few doubts. Confidentially he says, squinting and bouncing up and down three times, “I don’t think any one body could get into all those messes. Six or seven maybe, but not 40 or 50 or a 100 messes. Then you take Tony Dow. He plays the Beaver’s older brother, Wally. He’s not really realistic. A bigger boy wouldn’t be so dumb as he is in our script. I mean, a bigger boy would find a way out of all those messes that works.”

“Of course,” he added reflectively, “most boys do get caught.” Beaver and 13 year old Tony Dow get along fine on the set in the studio school where they’re classmates. They read each other’s passages from the Beaver’s favorite book, Rip Van Winkle. “Everybody must read it,” the Beaver said. “It’s very educational. Real swell. Really.”

The Beaver rises at 6:30 a.m., rides in to the studio from Canoga Park, puts in a full day and gets home at 6:45 p.m. “I eat, study my lines, and it’s time for bed.” As for school, “Generally, well, adding is OK. I don’t like division though. Spelling depends on how much time they give you.”

On weekends his dad frequently takes him out shooting with his air rifle or simply down to the Rifleman’s Association shooting range for a little target practice. His favorite Beaver shows he thinks are the episodes called The HaircutCaptain Jack, and Brotherly Love. We made careful note of this as being particularly significant until the Beaver went on to amend the list with 25 others that have been shot thus far as also being his favorites. By the end of that recital he was breathless and so were we.

72 Responses to My 1958 TV Guide interview

  • Mark says:

    I loved reading this interview. I still watch leave it to beaver everyday on netflix. I really wish we could go back to them days. Such a simpler time. Jerry have a wonderful 4th of july, be safe

  • Luis M. Pumariega says:

    Hi Jerry, I started watching first aired episodes of Leave it to Beaver in its last season since I came in 1962 as a kid of 6 to this great country with my family, fleeing from my native country Cuba’s communist dictatorship, which I am sad to say it’s still in power !
    I started to watch your show’s first 5 seasons as reruns on weekdays after school during the rest of the 1960’s! Today I still enjoy watching the Beaver in reruns on Me-TV ! Thanks for all the happiness you have given to my generation and all who have growned up watching the Beav !! All the best always, Luis

  • Russell Hancock says:

    Thanks for all the great entertainment. There should be More shows like Leave It To Beaver now. The world would be a better place.

  • Peter says:

    Interesting article…Would it contain the same type of questions and answers if done for today’s audiences?

  • Gary Clauss says:

    Hi Jerry,
    Thanks for sharing this gem of your personal history…doesn’t sound like the Beav was too different from the boy Jerry playing him…”a real swell guy!”
    Have a great 4th and thanks for many smiles over the years!

  • Vince Iuliano says:

    This is terrific. Thanks for sharing it! One Hollywood child actor who is STILL decent and grounded. Happy 4th~

  • Maureen Ball says:

    Happy 4th to you and your family. I think we still live in the greatest country in the world. I am happy we lived at a more simple time. My adult children and adult grandchildren laugh because I still watch Leave it to Beaver on my DVD’s. It just brings me so many happy memories. My brother is the same way. His wife laughs at him. Anyway, we still love you all!

  • Robin Howard says:

    Happy 4th Jerry. I love Leave it to Beaver. Watched season 3 disc 1 last night. My favorite episode on that disc is Beaver takes a bath. Beaver leaves the water running in the bathtub and it causes the kichen ceiling to leak. The article was great.

  • Christopher Chipps says:

    Happy 4th to you Jerry and your family. I want to say that my favorite episode of “Leave it to Beaver” is “The Party Spoiler” I think that is what it is called. Beaver didn’t know that Wally changed his mind and decided to let the Beav come to his party, so he sabotaged the party. My favoite part in the episode was when Lumpy was mocking one of the girls for saying, Hmm, yummy candy” He said, “You girls kill me, fancy fancy, hmm yummy candy” and then he took a bite of candy that the Beaver put soap or something in and the look on his face made me fall off my couch laughing. I’m 50 years old and still love the show.

  • cheryl vega says:

    Adorable! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Have a fun and safe day! Love ya

  • lana lyons robinson says:

    one of my most favorite childhood shows i remember raceing down the driveway to get home and watch the beave lol still see it ever now and then still love it thanks jerry your show made my childhood better

  • John Arbogast says:

    Great interview Jerry. When I was reading it, it sounded the way your character would have answered the questions.. “Beaver” was all over that interview. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ruth Harper says:

    I hope your fourth is good for you and your family. I saw you in when you were in Denver at the convention center. I watched you faithfully after we got a TV when I was 12. I am glad you shared your life with us at the convention center, and it encouraged me to do more exercises to reduce our diabetes. I got up to 190 pounds, mostly cause by a thyroid problem, but I have since then lost 35 pounds.

  • Tom Wright says:

    Happy Independence Day Jerry, to you and yours. Thanks for sharing so much with us. I have been watching you for over 50 years and I still love the show. God Bless You & God Bless America!

  • Robin Springer says:

    What a little doll, all of you are 🙂 Thank you Jerry for cool memories & lots of laughs. One line I recall that got me on a laughing jig a couple weeks ago, was with Wally’s junk car; you & him was in the kitchen, and Wally goes “I never saw him that mad before. He was so mad he couldn’t even yell at us!” (Laughing now) Blessings to you & all you love!

  • ruth krems says:

    I had to laugh when I saw the headline at the top of the TV guide that asked “Are you paying too much for TV service?”because my husband and I just dropped cable due to answering that question . We watch Netflix every night now and watch “Leave It To Beaver” every night!! We wish shows on TV today would show life’s little lessons as they did on “Beaver” back then.

  • Sylvia says:

    Jerry – I still watch Leave It To Beaver each night on Netflix. I absolutely love it, thank you for your great talent! Happy 4th.

  • Fred Wood says:

    “Leave it to Beaver”,..an excellent show featuring a truly nice man, even to this day!
    Thanks, Jerry!

  • Andrea Henne says:

    Happy 4th of July, Jerry! You have always been one of my TV faves! Thank you for the humor, the love, and the memories of Leave It To Beaver!

  • Lori Pfeifer says:

    Leave it to Beaver is one of the classics I can’t get enough of….always funny no matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes. I’ll admit, my favorites are the earlier ones with Larry Mondello–love the playing hooky from school one! Loved the article..although they did make a typo–it should have been “Seven Little Foys” and not “Seven Little Boys.” 🙂

  • Odima Uhura says:

    Happy 4th: watch almost daily; favorite episode: cup o soup-memory wise; wife and I watched a VHS tape of several episodes and laughed all night; thanks for one of my best memories ever.

  • Daniel White says:

    Thanks for sharing! The photo is very appropriate for July 4th. You and the other actors have left a remarkable legacy for future generations to enjoy.

  • Donna Jordan says:

    Hi Jerry . My childhood was not perfect and really sad , but I escapeded watching shows like yours and I would always think how lucky you were to live the way you did . But I’m happy say my life is much better now , but how much I enjoyed watching your show …

  • Jerry, I still watch Beaver every morning at 7am
    and don’t care what episode it is, I never get tired of watching. I was born in 1953 so I have been watching u on and off all my life. Thank u so much for the memories and the wonders of a much better and safer time. Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July !!!

  • Ralph Russo says:

    Just really enjoy walking down memory lane Jerry! I soooo think about and miss those days. They remind me of me and my brother and the simple pleasures of the day; the pleasures of not everything being “automatic”, “instantaneous”, and more frustratingly, “impersona” l like today. Social media like this is both a blessing and a curse. Gee Beav…tell Wally I miss him too!

  • Mickey Vee says:

    The goofiest “Beaver” story was when he was KIA in Viet Nam. The story broke late in ’69 or early ’70. The Defense Department had to elaborate that it was not Jerry, but someone with a very similar name. Talk about sitcoms!

  • Carol Jean Krause says:

    Happy 4th of July to you Jerry! I am 4 years younger than you but always watched “Leave it to Beaver” when I was younger. It was my favorite show and still is today on ME-TV channel. You are the best!

  • Carol Jean Krause says:

    Happy 4th of July to you Jerry. I am 4 years younger than you and have always loved your “Leave it to Beaver” show when I was younger and now on ME-TV. You are the best!

  • Janie Poole-Wilson says:

    This was so great for me!I really enjoyed it.
    I still watch the show as much as I can.I was a young child when it was on the network broadcasts & we rarely had a tv set,s I still watch many older shows.
    Jerry,I love animals & my father’s name was Jerry also.I really admire you for playing this charming & lovable character & for being so open & friendly with your fans.
    Happy 4th & God bless you & yours.

  • Diana Scarberry says:

    Thanks for posting this article. I have enjoyed my holiday which means of course Leave it to Beaver. You will always be my brother!

  • Steve Press says:

    Jerry,

    Watch LITB all the time on Netflix. One of the best shows ever and it sounds like a lot of us long for a time when life was simpler. Loved when you were trapped in a coffee cup. Who thought up “Rat Rat Rat Rat”? 🙂

  • Lynn Bryant says:

    Great interview, Beave….I mean …. Jerry! By the way, who spoke the opening credits of Leave It To Beaver?

  • Faith says:

    Hey Jerry! This was very neat! Today actually I had to band solos, and I play the clarinet. So my friend gave me a picture of you when you were 15- my age- and signed it I believe in you love beaver cleaver (even though you probably never would’ve done that at the age of 15- it’d be “creepy”) She did it one because I absolutely love Beaver Cleaver and in one episode you played the clarinet too! So I had you’re picture in my pocket and I did quite swell!! Now it’s just gonna sit in the front of my school binder and I show everyone (:

  • Kathy Thompson says:

    Jerry, I grew up with you (well, I’m actually about 6 months older. I loved — and still love “Leave It To Beaver.” Perhaps it is not of today’s world, but I thought the writing was on par with the early “Andy Griffith” shows. I loved your character, and indeed the entire cast. Thanks for such wonderful growing-up and now looking-back memories!

  • Beth Martin says:

    What an insightful interview for a 10 year old. Thanks for sharing this. Made me smile.

  • Frances Retes says:

    What and adorable interview. How I love to watch Leave it to Beaver. I watch with my 18th month old grandson. A new generation watching watching.

  • Frances Retes says:

    What and adorable interview. How I love to watch Leave it to Beaver. I watch with my 18th month old grandson. A new generation watching.

  • Rae Davis-Smith says:

    Still watch your show. .I am a year younger than you and watched it with my parents when it first aired years ago.

  • Ken says:

    Thanks for the kind message and link to your 1958 (!) interview. Fond memories of your show as I was growing up! “Put your foot on the lady’s thumb!” still resonates with me today.

  • Debora Dickinson says:

    Jerry, you are just one of the best if not the best child actor ever. You were such a natural all the time. I never felt you were “acting”. You helped to make my childhood a wonderful time. Your show was the highlight of my week! I had the honor of meeting you and Eddie once at a convention. You were so gracious. Enjoy your July 4th!!
    A fan-from Chicago.

  • Valerie Giugliano says:

    Thanks for posting the article. It was fun to read about the real Beaver Cleaver. Who thought up that name anyway? Lol I watched the Leave it to Beaver show for most of my childhood.I was born in 1954 so we saw some years of the show then I watched the re runs into Jr. High school. I am so glad you were able to grow up with a good life and come out of the Hollywood scene in a decent manner. God Bless you!

  • Melissa Welch says:

    I have a lot of favorites but..I loved it though that when ANYONE in the family was refering to Beaver’s friend, Whitey Whitney.It was always the full name.Whitey Whitney. There was an episode that the name was stated many times by Mom,Dad,Wally,Beav..Whitey Whitney.That seemed so realistic to me.It may be a family’ joke’ because it’s fun to say or the full name caught on for everyone for whatever other reason.2 Beaver was at the dinner table with his family one night and was talking about a different friend of his and Ward was having a hard time trying to place the kid in his head.Wally could see that and looked at his Dad and said ‘You know the one with the eye’.It’s perfect..

  • Cheryl Mercer says:

    I love Leave It to Beaver. It was my favorite show growing up and I still love it. Great job Beav

  • Joann says:

    I am 65 years old & I watch LITB every day on Antenna TV. It is the highlight of my day. Who would think that there are so many Beaver fans in this day & age. You were a wonderful actor & little boy that has grown up to be a fine gentleman! That was a great interview you gave.Do You ever really get to still hang out with any of the guys from the show? Wishing you a Happy Fourth of Jul.y

  • Jeff says:

    Hands down, leave it to beaver ranks up there with my other favorite shows like Gunsmoke, all in the family, Raymond, Andy Griffith and I love Lucy. I’ve seen every episode dozens of times buty favorites are when the beav is just a little tike. Heard netflix is taking it off after July. Why? Big mistake!

  • Jerry, always watched Leave It To Beaver growing up. We are just about the same age, so I related well to all the episodes. Loved the show then and still love watching the reruns today . That show, you, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsly and Hugh Beaumont are truly embedded into the babyboomers psyche as true “American Treasures”!!!

  • Cindy says:

    Happy 4th Jerry. I watch Beaver almost everyday on Netflix. I watched four episodes last night. The whole cast was great.

  • erry, always watched Leave It To Beaver growing up. We are just about the same age, so I related well to all the episodes. Loved the show then and still love watching the reruns today . That show, you, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsly and Hugh Beaumont are truly embedded into the babyboomers psyche as true “American Treasures”!!!

  • Harold Salch says:

    Interesting article. It is like I am there back then learning about the real you even though I was not born till ’61! Are you currently performing in any fasion these days? You have so many fans. Respond if you can. Great to have this opportunity to chat!

  • David madden says:

    Bev I remember watching leave it to never when I was a child,I watched all the episodes,I even missed school just to watch them.

  • lola says:

    Beaver love your episodes that you made, been watching them since i was a little girl Just love them to death they made me laugh I still watch them today and always will . Love you Beaver Cleaver.

  • Bill Cassidy says:

    You were all great people who were on the Leave it to Beaver show! Ken Osmond, and Tony Dow, and the rest of the family who stared on your show. My wife ,and I met Ken Osmond at the American Legion Post in Sun Valley California last Feb.,and we would like to stop there again one day.we will take you all out to lunch! The people in Maryland still love you guys! After all those years! We were telling people about Ken Osmond, and the books he wrote! Eddie, and Above and beyond! The LAPD, and how he helps the families of Veterans etc. Bill Cassidy

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