The New Leave it to Beaver
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!
Leave it to Beaver 50th Anniversary – 2007 – Good Morning America
Happy anniversary Leave it to Beaver! Our very first episode aired on October 4, 1957 and we then shot 235 episodes. The last first-run was in June of 1963. The show then went into re-runs and is still airing today…the longest running scripted show in television history!
Leave it to Beaver has had a great run and it is still relevant and humorous. I am glad to have had the privilege of being a part of this iconic television phenomenon which has made me friends all over the world. I truly treasure all my memories of the cast, crew and fans, many of whom are lifelong friends. When I look back, all of this has contributed to a great life!
Here’s is my chance to wish my good friend former LAPD motorcycle officer Ken Osmond aka Edward Haskell, a happy 70th birthday. Ken, I know what a terrific actor you are. You brought to life a mischievous villain that is so much NOT like you that it’s hard for me to believe that you could play such a great character so different from the real you. Who would have thought that the name “Eddie Haskell” would become synonymous with all the things that Ken Osmond isn’t!
What many people don’t know is that Kenny also had other great acting roles including the film Pilgrim Adventure with Spencer Tracy and Gene Tierney, Lassie, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Fury, Petticoat Junction, and The Munsters to name just a few.
Kenny then changed professions and in 1970 he joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He was an active member of the force until he was shot in the line of duty on September 20, 1980. His bulletproof vest and belt buckle saved his life. He eventually retired from the LAPD in 1988. Because of this he was able to join the cast of The New Leave it to Beaver and reprise his role as the two-faced protagonist to Beaver and the Cleaver clan.
To a great guy on his 70th birthday — it doesn’t sound so bad being that old because I just hit 65 on June 2nd and it didn’t hurt a bit. Happy birthday Ken!
Richard played “Richard Rickover” in Leave it to Beaver. He was not only a character on the show, but my best friend growing up.
We spent many weekends at each other’s houses getting into mischief…typical adolescent pranks!
After Richard graduated from high school and while he was at USC’s film school, he worked extensively with the Harold Lloyd estate.
Richard has had an incredible career as a top Hollywood television director, producer and writer. Some of his credits include Family Matters, Full House, Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Perfect Strangers to name only a few. He wrote episodes for Happy Days early in his career.
Richard has always been a very good friend and I look forward to sharing many more birthdays with him!