Gus the Fireman (Burton Mustin) Happy Birthday!

What many people don’t know is that the character Gus (Burton Mustin) began his professional acting career at the age of 67 after director William Wyler cast him in the 1951 film Detective Story.  And, did you know that  he spent most of his early working years as an insurance salesman and he also had a degree in Engineering?  Burt played Gus the Fireman on our show Leave it to Beaver and he was one of my favorite supporting characters.

Known in the entertainment business for his dependability and versatility, Burt was a well-known character actor and worked extensively in film and television from the 1950s to the 1970s.

In 1957, he made his first appearance as “Gus the Fireman” on Leave It to Beaver.  He continued in the role until 1962 making a total of 15 appearances on our show. In 1960, he made his first guest appearance on The Andy Griffith Show as Jud Fletcher.   Burt appeared in the role until 1966. He also portrayed “Old Uncle Joe” on two episodes of The Lucy Show in 1967. The following year, Mustin guest starred as “Grandpa Jenson” on Petticoat Junction in three episodes.

During the 1970s, Burt continued with guest roles on Love, American StyleAdam-12, and Emergency!.  Known for his quick wit and song-and-dance abilities, Mustin was a frequent closing act on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during the 1970s. From 1971 to 1976, he had a recurring role as “Justin Quigley” in five episodes of All in the Family

Burt was a very kind and gracious man and I enjoyed working with him very much.  On January 28, 1977, he died in Glendale, California at the age of 94.

103 Responses to Gus the Fireman (Burton Mustin) Happy Birthday!

    • Mary House says:

      Happy Birthday Gus! Jerry I loved watching Leave It To Beaver! Such a great cast! I have so much fun watching it with my Grandson! My son always enjoyed watching it too! Our fav was when you were in the soup bowl on the billboard sign! LOl! There are 3 generations of you fans in my family! God bless you and your Family!

  • Jeff Barna says:

    It’s always good to hear that someone you thought was probably nice…really was! Thanks for the memories, Jerry. Enjoy sunny Californ-i-a. We’re digging out here in the northeast!

  • D. Walker says:

    I always looked forward to seeing Burt Mustin on t.v. shows. Used to wish we had a Gus the Fireman on our block.

  • Joe Pesetski says:

    Burt Mustin also appeared in the 1960’s version of Dragnet, playing several different roles.
    The last time I

  • Diana Ross says:

    Wow! What a treasure it must have been, for you to have known and worked with him:) I’ll bet he made a huge impression on you, at such a young age, and we don’t realize how blessed we are to meet angels like that until later in life:) I really enjoyed watching all the episodes of Gus the Fireman on Beaver!

  • Diane Morgan says:

    wow that’s amazing that he would be that old! I love all your posts Jerry, I love watching the shows. Great memories from my childhood. Thank you…….

  • Joe Pesetski says:

    Burt Mustin also appeared in the 1960’s version of Dragnet, playing several different roles.
    The last time I saw him was on an episode of Phyllis.

  • Kellard Walker says:

    Jerry, if I did not feel up in my years before I read this article, I certainly do now.It seems as though it was just yesterday. You take care, Kelly

  • Dan Brown says:

    Thanks Jerry. I have always enjoyed seeing Burt Mustin on television. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy playing the multiple characters he portrayed throughout the years. Thank you for letting all of us know that he really was a kind person. I have no doubt that he enjoyed working with you also.

  • Richard says:

    Love the character of Gus…He was a nice friend to the Beav…Thought he might have been in Vaudeville…

  • Ed Gamble says:

    Gus was just another warm character in a show filled with warm characters. When they produced Leave it to Beaver they threw away the mold. Thanks for the memories.

  • Ken says:

    Great memories and thanks for the info Jerry. I just watched “The Trouble with Harry” yesterday for the first time (!). You were so little-do you rember much about shooting the movie?

  • Brian E. says:

    I saw Gus on many of his TV episodes. Along with enjoying Gus the fireman, I also enjoyed his character on Dragnet as a retired police chief helping Friday & Gannon solve a case when they thought he was a suspect.
    Hope all is well with you Beav.


  • Rich Tyner says:

    I seem to recall that on one of your last LITB episodes you went to the fire station to visit Gus. A nostalgic moment when you visited with him as a teenager and reminisced about old times when you were a younger child! What a fabulous wholesome show! Thanks for sharing about Gus (Burt)!

  • Denyse M Robinon says:

    Thank you for sharing about Gus. Your relationship on the screen was very sweet and special. It is interesting that he started performing later in life. Encourages those who dreams have yet been fulfilled. Jerry, I do not think I watched LITB much when I was young but I do enjoy it now and I, too, am a baby boomer.

  • Dave says:

    He certainly seemed to be one of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of actors. A really nice guy !!!!!

  • Tom says:

    I think I saw him on The Outer Limits (1963). He escaped a house where people did not age until they stepped out of a gate. The people were held captive by a monster made out of jelly.

  • Corrina says:

    Really! Thanks for sharing this information! My Dad (who doesn’t have internet) would be interested in Burton. I thought I had seen him on Andy Griffith! 🙂

  • Larry, Linda and Angela Fischer says:

    Thank Jerry for the Gus info it was very intersting and inforative I liked how you told the whole story about Gus his background and how old he was when he passed away. Thank you vey much!!

  • Bob Black says:

    Burt sounds like he was a very nice man. I really liked his character… I also remember seeing him on an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show.

    • Greg Williams says:

      Burt Mustin appeared as Donald Lucas Parker, alongside Madge Blake as Dodo, in “Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice,” from season 3 of The Dick Van Dyke Show. The show aired on October 16, 1963.

  • Terry Kelly says:

    This was a great read! I always loved Burt in Gus the Firemans role. A real friend to the Beaver and his buddies growing up. So nice to know he was good a guy in real life as he was in that role. Thanks so much Jerry, you and cast of ” Leave it to Beaver” became our friends, and lived the childhood we all wanted. Mine was very different of course. ( I never had a Dad for instance) But we could always escape to your world for that 30 minute visit. I still do when ever I can!

  • Ella dee says:

    Thank you for the post, and for taking time for you fans. For only 15 episodes he’s remembered as major part of the show. ,I am enjoying Leave it to Beaver on Ch 5.2 in Los Angeles. On Friday Feb 15,8a and 830a season 6 Episode 39 and season 1 Episode 1 will be shown…I really like watching the Episodes in order.

  • Richard Bennett says:

    I loved Gus the fireman. My favorite episode in which he appears was the one where Beaver and Wally worked at a circus, were paid with a horse instead of money, the horse got sick and Gus went to the Cleavers’ to figure out what was wrong with the horse.

    Also, 131 lit candles on a birthday cake could cause a fire…..

  • Kathy says:

    I loved Burt – it was nice to see that a kid could have an older person as a friend and confidant. I just loved this show. Thanks Jerry

  • Leonidas says:

    I specifically recall this old guy on Johnny Carson I quote… “When I was a little boy in the nineties” then Carson lipped “in the 90’s” he seemed like a guy from another epoch… His recollection was amazing of things from his childhood.. Cool guy….

  • Susan says:

    Funny. I just saw him on an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” the other day. I asked my husband if “that man was ever young?” He was always older in EVERYTHING I saw him in. Now I know why. It’s amazing that he would now be 131 years old! WOW! He was born BEFORE my great grandfather, who would now be 118 if he were still living. Thank you for the information!

  • LyndaLou Smart says:

    I Loved you talking to Gus, he give good advice to you and this was good for all who watched the show. He was some one you could go to any time and even wake him up . He looks like the bank watch man on the Andy Griffin show. ? I loved that show too. Love ya in the Heart of Texas

  • Glenn says:

    Burt Mustin was a great character actor. One of his memorable roles that I enjoy was in a Twilight Zone episode called “Night of the Meek” broadcast during the 1960 Christmas season. He was great on “All in the Family” in the 1970s and on “The Andy Griffith Show in the 60s. But of all these shows, Gus the Fireman was my favorite role of his. I love the episode where the fire dog “Chief” is with him in the fire house and Beav pays him a visit. Good, clean, wholesome family fun replete with wisdom, morality, and values. All the things that are lacking in most TV shows today.

  • Tony says:

    don’t forget the Brady Bunch episode when Bobby was fascinated with Jesse James.He killed Gus’s dad during a train robbery.

  • christie says:

    LOVED Gus + all the characters of Beaver…. I was just 6 then + did not realize how much I appreciate that show. Every morning here in New York , Beaver is on daily!!

  • scott says:

    Burt was the commencement speaker at pmc colleges in 1972. He was pennsylvania military academy grad in the early 1900’s. We were the last cadet class

  • david says:

    hi everyone,i just seen him in gunsmoke id say 1964 1965 he was named uncle finney also victor french was his nephew in gunsmoke as well uncle finney was 103 in gunsmoke he was celerbrating his 104th birthday when james arness returned from abilene ,regards david leach nsw australia

  • Bill Pall says:

    Howdy Y’All. Loved the way Gus used to speak with Beaver. This possibly influenced my life’s work as a child psychiatric counselor. Have always admired this man and his manner. Peace.

    • Melvin Schlecht says:

      I remember he was in the episode of My Three Sons when Robbie and Katie went back to Robbie’s home town for a friends wedding.

  • Bob Garfinkel says:

    Jerry, I always enjoyed watching Burt in whatever role he played. He was very common, yet had that quiet wisdom about him. When he’d appear, it was like a breath of fresh air and like seeing a favorite uncle you have not seen for a long time. I am 67 and a huge Leave it to Beaver fan!!

  • hannibal says:

    I just saw him on an early 1965 episode of the Beverly Hillbillies – Hilarious. He plays Humphrey the driver. Humphrey takes an uncut portion of Granny’s tonic and becomes virile.

    Love those old shows!

  • Brenda says:

    WOW!!! Just found this site and enjoyed reading all of the posts wishing Mr. Burt a “happy birthday!” LITB never ever grows old and have watched it all my life. It’s currently on Antenna TV and it started with S1/E1 and just watched S4/E6, which starred Mr. Mustin, where Beaver was selling raffle tickets and won the $3500 sports car that Ward sold and deposited the money in his bank account, just as Eddie Haskell predicted! I recently turned my two young granddaughters onto LITB and they just love it! I currently have 103 episodes waiting to be watched, which we watch together when they spend the weekend with me. Always the first words out of their mouths, “gramma, can we go watch LITB – you betcha!” Many many thanks to the entire cast for such wonderful precious memories of life in the ’50s and early ’60s. I was there and LITB tells us like it was – if we could only go back and do it ALL AGAIN!!!

  • Lee Anderson says:

    Burt was for a long time the oldest living graduate of PMC college in Chester PA. He was commencement speaker at various times.PMC is now Widener Univetsity.

  • brad holland says:

    He was in Sanford And Son Episode Home Sweet Home For the Aged where he asked fred if he said how would you like a game of shuffleboard and fred says how would you like 5 across the lips

  • Hugh says:

    He told a joke that had the longest laugh on “The tonight show starring Johnny Carson” — the punchline was: “Keep your worms warm!” thanks Jerry for sharing this!!!

  • Bruce says:

    Thx so much for telling us the “Fireman Gus” story and about his life. His character in your show really portrayed the importance of peers—teachers,police,fireman,professional people etc–that take time to notice kids & talk to them.

  • Jim Lowen says:

    Thanks for sharing Jerry!
    I’ve seen him in many rolls, but to me he is always Gus the Fireman

  • Steven D. Light says:

    I have always liked Burt and noticed him in different shows. Thanks for giving us more info on this very interesting and likable gentleman.

  • Jim says:

    Wasn’t he on The Brady Bunch portraying the grandson of a man who was shot by Jesse James? I just recall that episode as a child.

  • Tim Moreau says:

    Beaver… Gus was also on the Brady Bunch..
    During the episode when Bobby had to do a report on Jesse James….Bobby made it seem as though James was a folk hero…. But; dad somehow got in touch with Burt and brought him to their home.. Burt explained to Bobby that his own relative was murdered by Jesse James gang…. Very good episode!!!

  • Peggy Buchanan says:

    So kind of you to remember your old friend on his birthday. It does sound as though he was a really nice man, not surprising, he always came across as one of the good guys on TV. Thanks for sharing this about Burt. =)

  • Kathryn Ortiz says:

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely tribute. He probably lived to 94 because he re-invented himself at age 66. Wow! What a great role model.

  • Gary Gentry says:

    I loved the Gus Charter he played he alway had something good to advise the Never with ,he see led relaxed and cofident in what he had toy about life the writers of Leave it to Beaver Surley kept him in mind when they wrote his script I loved him,even though I never knew him.

  • Janet says:

    Thanks for sharing! Gus was a favorite of mine too. He was like a familiar face that I never actually met. There was something just comfortable and relatable to me as a young child.

  • Randy Shipp says:

    Didn’t he also have a role on “Phyllis” as the boyfriend who then married Phyllis’s step-grandmother (or some other convoluted relationship)?

  • Bruce Backlund says:

    Jerry, I well remember Gus and your interactions with him at the firehouse in the late 50’s and early 60’s on LITB. Great time to grow up in! I am in my 60’s now, but what a TIME it was back then!

  • Jack Jones says:

    He also played on an episode of The Brady Bunch the one where Bobby was infatuated with Jesse James…. thanks for the memories Jerry

  • Bobby Hay says:

    Always loved Burt’s appearances, especially on Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

  • Dave says:

    Happy Birthday Burt. I remember you as Gus the fireman on Leave it to Beaver and I remember you in an episode of the Brady Bunch “Jessie James” episode!

  • Mike says:

    Thanks Jerry, Burt also did an episode on The Twilight Zone and The Brady Bunch. Very talented actor .

  • Ariam Ramos says:

    I remember seeing him in Leave it to beaver and All in the Family, plus i only saw one appearance in Sandford and Son.
    But never knew he started his acting career so late in life. anyway he was a fine actor.

  • jim Karwoski says:

    What a great inspiration Burt is. He started acting at age 67. I’m. Only 57. That means I still have a chance!

  • donna thomas says:

    I remember him in so many shows, but I would always say, “Look, there’s Gus the fireman from Leave it to Beaver”. I’m sure he is smiling, having you (Jerry), honor him with such kind words. Thanks for sharing these facts with us.

  • Wendell Bricker says:

    Thanks Jerry… 59 you almost forget some of the great character actors that came by the by…..I appreciate the reminder and the great memories that came with. You see when you pointed out the shows he was on…..I remembered watching those shows as a kid with my family….especially my brother Bill who just passed away……thanks again and keep up the good work……

  • LynnRizzo says:

    Let me just say that, I have always admired you and all the characters on your shows.
    Lynn Rizzo

  • Anthony Bilotta Jr says:

    Burt also was in an episode of Sanford and Son When Fred was put in a nursing home by Lamont and Fred had an encounter With Burt

  • Jeff Cole says:

    Hello Jerry! It’s nice to have a conduit directly to you! Although your show was just a bit before my time, I grew up watching and learning life lessons from your show! I credit all of my good nature and values to your character and show! And these are same values and morals that I my kid are raised with, and they have turned out to be GREAT kids! So thank you!

    Also. I agree with all previous comments on Gus, it was always nice to see him and I wish him a grand birthday!

  • John says:

    Bert was also in a twilight zone with Art Carney where art Carney become Santa Claus and gives away gifts to Burt who was a homeless man at the time

  • Greg says:

    Burt was so wonderful, I fell in love with his charachter(Gus the fireman,)
    He was a truly perfect for Leave it to beaver,

  • Thomas Greer says:

    Thank you. I still to this day enjoy your show. We don’t have good clean shows like yours. God Bless.

  • Kathy Barber says:

    I always loved him. He was so good in whatever role he was in, but I must say that Gus was my favorite role that he portrayed. Thanks Jerry, this was very nice to find out some things that were not known about him.

  • Robert Boudreau says:

    Just watched an episode of “The Twilight Zone” and Gus was one of the elderly residents of an “old folks home”. Reading about Gus and his time on LITB brings back fond memories. Thanks, Jerry, for the wholesome show and its influence in my life!

  • Pat Lord says:

    Burt Mustin was a man of character who played men of character. Where are people like him these days?

    I wish, at age 57, my four children between 19 and 25 had seen role models such as him, and NOT the fake actors and musicians of today. “The Beav.” wasn’t a bad kid at all, and I do remember the reunion movie. He won with Wally’s help.

    Our parents raised us with values, respect and to care for others. Mr. Mustin was a classic role model.

    Jerry, I have also read the literature for another organisation representing something I inherited and passed on to three of the children. Research is giving us all hope. Hopefully you are doing as well as we are.

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