From 1957 to 1963,
audiences everywhere were captivated by the sitcom
Leave it to Beaver. Originally aired on CBS, the show was quickly
dropped and reappeared less that a year later by ABC. Today, Leave it to
Beaver reruns are still shown on television and it has become a true
Leave it to Beaver
is centered on a young boy—Theodore “Beaver”
Cleaver—and his wild antics. The parts was played by Jerry Mathers. Also
in the show are older brother Wally Cleaver, played by Tony Dow, and
parents Ward and June Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont and Barbara
Rounding out the cast are Beaver’s many friends, including
Larry Mondello, played by Rusty Stevens and Gilbert Bates, played by
Stephen Talbot, as well as Miss Canfield, Miss Landers, and Mrs.
Rayburn, Beaver’s school teachers, and the fireman Gus.
Of course, every boy needs some archenemies, and Beaver was no
exception. Leave it to Beaver featured the boy’s problems with Judy Hensler, played by Jeri Weil, and
Eddie Haskell, played by Ken Osmond.
Eddie became one of the most popular “villains” on the show, as he was
the typical bad guy among his friends, but two-faced when adults entered
Beaver’s adventures all took place in the fictional town of Mayfield,
where Beaver went to Grant Avenue Grammar School. Every episode aimed at
teaching a lesson to children and adults alike, and the Cleaver family
is seen today as the model American family of this time period.
some critics believed that the show did not show an accurate view of the
problems that real American children faced in daily life and therefore,
the show was highly romanticized. Simply put, some believed that the
series held an unrealistic view about what a family should be.
After five years running on ABC and 234 episodes in total, Leave it to
Beaver was taken off the air. When this happened, the show was soon
added to CBS’s morning line-up and in the 1980s became part of the TBS
family. Since 1998, it has aired on TV Land, with NBC owning the
syndication rights and all else related to the series.
Following the series’ close in 1963, Jerry Mathers took a break from
acting for awhile to concentrate on receiving a good education. He
graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974 and also
served in the Vietnam War, but did not die there, as urban legends
He later starred in the 1983 spin-off television movie
Still the Beaver and a number of movies. Today, he is a speaker at
national conventions, where he talks about the state of the American
family and the sociological effects of television in America.
who played older brother Wally, went on to serve in the National Guard
and appeared in guest spots in 1960s television shows like Mr. Novak. He
became interested in behind-the-scenes work, and has become a successful
producer and director.
Still the Beaver featured the original cast except for Ward Cleaver,
because Beaumont had since died. Rather than replacing him, he was
simply included in the story in a number of flashback scenes using clips
from the original show. The movie dealt with a grown-up Beaver who was
struggling through a divorce and a widowed June Cleaver who was selling
their Mayfield home. It was widely praised by Leave it to Beaver fans
and critics, who saw it as dealing with a more realistic view of life.
Still the Beaver led to yet another spin-off, which appeared as a
made-for-cable series and was called The New Leave It to Beaver. It ran
in the late 1980s and showed Beaver living in the old Cleaver house,
with many of the same characters still in the neighborhood. The show was
a mild success, but the Leave It to Beaver movie in 1997, which featured
few of the original cast members, flopped.
This half-hour sitcom was nominated for and Emmy in 1958 for Best New
Program Series of the Year, and although it did not win, it has
definitely made its impact on American culture. It is still loved by the
millions who watch the reruns and fondly remember the show.
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