Leave it to Beaver 60th Anniversary Memories
It’s hard to believe that our television show Leave it to Beaver has now been continuously airing since its premier on October 4th, 1957. For me, it has always been a great adventure. At the young age of 8 years old, I was starting on a life’s journey that has not only enriched me, but has brought me countless fans and friends all over the world. Who would have thought that such a simple tv show titled Leave it to Beaver about a boy and his brother growing up in a small town in mid- America in the 50’s and 60’s would ultimately become the longest continuously running show in television history.
As I look back over these last 60 years, the greatest gift that this wonderful program has always given me is all of the friends, fans and acquaintances that I have made who were a direct outcome of such a simple show. The Leave it to Beaver story lines were taken from real life and the situations that occurred then are still relevant and happening to children and families today. Lifestyles and fashions may have changed but the perspective of a child’s view of the adult world while growing up, is still relevant, relate-able and fun to watch. I wish to thank all of my many fans over these 60 years for enjoying the show along with me and hope that the family values of Leave it to Beaver will continue to be relevant and timeless.
The Twist (1960) by the great Chubby Checker. Video includes dance clips from the early 60’s along with movie and television scenes.
Is this twisted or what? Take a look at the dude with the moves at time code 1:10!
I actually worked with Hugh Beaumont even before we started shooting Leave it to Beaver. I was cast with him in a promotional film for Rose Hills Memorial Park. One thing I remember is that during a scene, I was supposed to cry on cue. Hugh asked me if I had ever done that before and I told him, no. He said, “Put your face into your hands and laugh really hard. It’s an old actor’s trick because the sound of laughter and crying are very closely related. Sure enough, I tried it and it worked! Here is the Rose Hills film: http://www.jerrymathers.com/hugh-beaumont-and-jerry-mathers-rose-hills-memorial-park-commercial/
When we shot the pilot of Leave it to Beaver, Hugh was not the original father. But, when they re-cast the role for the series, Hugh was one of several people brought in for an audition. My mother actually suggested for him to go in for the interview! When I saw him, I was so happy because he was the nice man that I worked with on the Rose Hills shoot. So, when we read a short scene together, we had a good chemistry and Hugh got the part of Ward Cleaver. I was very glad that he was picked for the role and we had a wonderful friendship for his entire life until he passed away in 1982 from a heart attack. Hugh and my dad had become friends and he occasionally came to our house to play cards with my father and some of his friends.
What most people don’t know is that Hugh was an ordained minister before Leave it to Beaver. He graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946 from the University of Southern California (USC). Hugh had a long and illustrious career and did many films and television series in addition to Leave it to Beaver. One of his most famous characters was Michael Shayne who he played in 5 films. He was a hard drinking, heavy cigarette smoking detective in this part, in the style of Mickey Spillane. I think he was much more comfortable as Ward Cleaver because it fit his ‘real life” personality so much better!
As I mentioned above, here are some of my mother’s cherished memories of Hugh and how she was so instrumental in having him cast as Ward Cleaver!
Here is my interview about my audition for Leave it to Beaver. This was produced for the Archive of American Television by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Here’s my interview with Ashley Dvorkin for their Fox News “Throwback Thursday” segment!
Had a great time on the set!
Here is a wonderful tribute by Bobby Hay to the child actors we grew up with, many who are my real life friends. How many do you recognize?
Frank Wilcox Film Festival
March 21-22, 2014 in De Soto, Missouri
Frank Wilcox was an American character actor who made appearances in more than 150 films and nearly 200 episodes of television programs. I remember him as a very kind man when he worked with us on three episodes of Leave it to Beaver which included:
The State Versus Beaver (1958) … District Court Judge
The Tooth (1959) … Dr. Frederick W. Harrison, DDS
Eddie Quits School (1962) … Mr. Farmer
Frank’s best known television role was that of the oil executive John Brewster in the first season of the CBS sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies. He also played many other memorable characters in The Donna Reed Show, The Real McCoys, I Love Lucy, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Perry Mason, The Untouchables, The Munsters, and The Lone Ranger, to name only a few!
Some of Frank’s most famous film roles include They Died with Their Boots On, Santa Fe Trail, and The Greatest Show on Earth starring Charlton Heston.
The second-annul Frank Wilcox Film Festival will kick off on March 21-22, 2014, in De Soto, Missouri which was Frank’s birth place. Come join us!
Hollywood Christmas Parade 2013!
The City of Los Angeles will once again be presenting The Hollywood Christmas Parade! This year is the 82nd anniversary of the parade, and it will be the best year yet!
Please come out to see Tony Dow, Ken Osmond and me (Jerry Mathers) on December 1st! We will be riding together in the “Leave it to Beaver” car! The parade will include Grand Marshall Buzz Aldrin, celebrities, marching bands, floats, giant balloons, lots of great entertainment and surprises!
Sunday, December 1st, at 5:00 PM
From the Heart of Hollywood! Starting on Hollywood Blvd at Orange, the U-shaped parade route will travel east to Vine, south on Vine to Sunset Boulevard and west on Sunset, back to Orange.