Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Leave It to Beaver (1960)

Today it is viewed as the quintessential quaint and naive 1950s situation comedy depicting an idealized world of wholesome family values and innocence that never really existed. Yet it has also remained one of the most popular television shows of all time despite the fact that during its 6-year run from 1957-1963 it never cracked the top 30 in the ratings. But the most surprising aspect of this All-American TV classic is how funny the show remains today, far superior to the contrived punch-line driven fare that passes for contemporary comedy. The credit for Beaver's still-fresh humor goes to the series' creators and principle writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, who wrote over 1500 scripts for the radio and later TV comedy Amos 'n' Andy. After a failed attempt on their own writing for a Ray Milland-led anthology series, the two decided to focus on what they knew--the everyday situations and language of their own children. They also took the novel approach of showing these situations from the children's point of view, with Connelly's 8-year-old son Ricky providing the model for the character of Beaver and his 14-year-old son Jay as the model for Wally. Connelly carried a notebook with him to record what his children said and did, and Mosher had two children of his own that sometimes provided material. This real-world observation helped Connelly and Mosher come up with dialogue and behavior that isolated television writers couldn't have dreamed up on their own, such as when Beaver brings home his friend Richard for the first time and introduces him to his parents by stating the obvious, "This is Richard. He's a kid." The dialogue of teenager Wally is also infused with more satire than one would expect from a wholesome, idealized comedy and gives the show unexpected zing decades later. 

The other criticism most often lobbed against Beaver is its sermonizing, in which each episode drives toward a life lesson, usually administered by one or both parents to one or both children. And while there are plenty of episodes that end with Ward Cleaver dispensing learned wisdom to Beaver or Wally after their misguided attempts, many other episodes show Ward and June being the recipients of a teachable moment, such as in "Tire Trouble" (January 2, 1960) when Beaver accidentally flattens one of the tires on Ward's car and he and Wally try to get it fixed before their father finds out. However, Ward inadvertently finds out what they are up to from Eddie Haskell, then asks why they didn't tell him about the flat. Wally replies that he was afraid Ward would call him stupid, causing Ward to apologize and explicitly say that when he talks to them he often learns more than they do. In "Wally's Election" (February 6, 1960), Ward pushes Wally to campaign hard for class president, after Fred Rutherford obnoxiously crows about his own son Lumpy, then has to apologize to Wally when his son loses the election because he pushed too hard. Ward admits that sometimes parents push their children to achieve things that they themselves failed at. And in "Ward's Baseball" (April 9, 1960), Ward is about to give in and let Beaver come down for dinner after sending him to his room for destroying an autographed baseball of Ward's that he was told not to play with. But Wally intervenes and says that when Ward had gone easy on him after he had told his friends he was grounded, he felt that his friends had lost some respect for his father. So Ward takes Wally's advice and lets Beaver serve out his punishment so that he will know his father isn't a push-over.

Another parenting topic that is depicted repeatedly is the use of corporal punishment. Though there are never any scenes showing spanking or hitting, Wally in particular makes frequent references to getting clobbered. In "Tire Trouble" he says he would prefer being hit to being called stupid. Eddie Haskell also frequently talks about being hit for misbehaving, and the plot of "Larry Hides Out" (January 9, 1960) revolves around Beaver's friend Larry Mondello running away from home to hide at the Cleavers after his mother catches him reading his sister's diary and tells him he is going to get it when his father gets home. Even Ward recounts that his father used a belt on him in "The Hypnotist" (March 12, 1960). The frequent references to physical punishment that never seems to materialize, along with frequent claims of parents yelling at their children when they rarely raise their voices, suggest the child's point of view in which such displays of anger have an outsized effect on the child's psyche. In some ways, the Cleavers' parenting philosophy bears some resemblance to the ideas of Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care had become enormously influential in new ways of child rearing since its publication in 1946. Rather than rigidly demanding that their children conform to adult-derived beliefs about behavior, they make a concerted effort to understand their children's problems while teaching them how to behave. They attempt to enforce consistent discipline but always with the explanation that it is done out of love for the children.

But perhaps one of the more justified criticisms of the show is the way in which the Cleaver household is portrayed as the ideal when compared to any others its family members encounter. The Rutherfords are headed by obnoxious, overconfident Fred and his lethargic son Lumpy. The Mondellos have an absent father and overwhelmed mother. Eddie Haskell often talks about the ways he outsmarts or cons his father. In "Beaver's House Guest" (October 8, 1960), Beaver has his friend Chopper come and stay with him, but we learn that Chopper's parents are divorced and use him to get at each other. And in "Beaver and Kenneth" (December 17, 1960), Beaver is befriended by a boy who steals things from his classmates and gives them to Beaver to win his friendship. When Ward takes Beaver over to Kenneth's house to tell his father, the father is easily duped by Kenneth into standing behind his lies. Even members of the Cleavers' extended family, such as Ward's "Uncle Billy" (December 31, 1960) fail to live up to the nuclear Cleavers' standards for honesty.

The pilot for Leave It to Beaver, "It's a Small World," appeared as an episode on the anthology series Heinz Studio 57 on April 23, 1957, with Casey Adams cast in the role of Ward Cleaver and Paul Sullivan as Wally. Those two actors were replaced with Hugh Beaumont and Tony Dow when the show was picked up as a regular series, debuting on October 4, 1957 on CBS. After its first season, the show was dropped by CBS but was then picked up for five more seasons on ABC. Reportedly Tony Dow said that the reason for switching networks was because the sponsor got a better deal with ABC. As noted above, the show was never a top ratings winner, though it had a steady following and was still popular when it was finally canceled because Jerry Mathers wanted to attend high school as a regular kid.

The music associated with the show is its sprightly instrumental opening theme, "The Toy Parade," composed by David Kahn, Melvyn Leonard, and Mort Greene. In its final season, the theme song was given a jazzy makeover by Pete Rugolo. Incidental music for individual episodes was largely precorded library music not created specifically for the show. Though earlier seasons of the show included teaser scenes from the episode and narration by Hugh Beaumont, by calendar year 1960 (seasons 3 and 4), each episode began with the same sequence of scenes, though these opening sequences were changed each season. For season 3, the opening sequence shows Ward and June coming up to the boys' bedroom to wake them up in the morning. For season 4, the opening sequence shows Ward and June coming out of the front door to see the boys off to school, handing them jackets and sack lunches much like the opening sequence for The Donna Reed Show. Another notable difference in these sequences is the tone of announcer Bob LeMond, whose cheery up-beat delivery in season 3 is replaced with a much more deadpan, toned-down delivery in season 4.

The complete series has been issued on DVD by Shout!Factory. Two hundred of the show's 234 episodes are also available online at imdb.com.

The Actors

Barbara Billingsley

Barbara Lillian Combes  was born in Los Angeles in 1915. Her parents divorced when she was 4, and her father went on to be of the assistant Chief of Police while her mother became a factory worker. After  graduating high school and a single year of college, she moved to New York when the play Straw Hat was brought to Broadway, though it lasted there for only 5 performances. Later she found work as a model and a card balancer for a magician. Her work in film began with several uncredited appearances beginning in 1945, with her first credited role coming three years later in The Argyle Secret. Her TV appearances began in 1952 and she starred as a doctor's wife in the short-lived series Professional Father in 1955. She also had 5 appearances as the character Barbara on The Brothers in 1956-57 before landing the role of June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver. Though it is often cited as an example of the show's artificiality, Billingsley later revealed that the reason she wore pearls even when cleaning house on the show was to hide a surgical scar.

After playing such an iconic role, she had difficulty finding any roles other than June Cleaver or a character playing off that role, such as the jive translator in the movie Airplane! She, Tony Dow, and Jerry Mathers reprised their Leave It to Beaver roles on the 1983 TV movie Still the Beaver, which was then spun into a cable television series that ran from 1984-1989. However, she did provide the voice of the Nanny on Muppet Babies from 1984-1991. She took her acting surname Billingsley from her first husband Glenn Billingsley, nephew of the owner of New York's famous nightspot The Stork Club. Through Billingsley she is also related to actor Peter Billingsley, who played the central character Ralphie in the movie A Christmas Story. She died October 16, 2010 at the age of 94.

Hugh Beaumont

Born in Lawrence, Kansas, Beaumont's father was a traveling salesman, causing the family to move quite a bit. He graduated from high school in Chattanooga, TN and attended the University of Chattanooga but left when his position on the football team was changed. Later he attended and graduated from USC with a degree in theology and became an ordained lay Methodist minister. He began in show business in 1931, making appearances in nightclubs, in theaters, and on the radio, then moved over into film acting in 1940. A conscientious objector in World War II, he found steady work in films such as the noir classic The Blue Dahlia and took over the role of detective Michael Shayne from Lloyd Nolan in films such as Murder Is My Business. His work in television began in 1952, most notably as the narrator on Racket Squad and he had multiple appearances on show like The Public Defender and The Loretta Young Show as well as occasional film appearances in movies such as The Mole People before landing his career-defining role as Ward Cleaver.

Beaumont apparently felt that after Leave It to Beaver he had been typecast and his acting career was limited to occasional guest appearances on shows like Petticoat Junction, The Virginian, and Mannix through the late 60s and early 70s. When he retired from acting, he became a Christmas tree farmer on Balgillo Island, Minnesota, which he owned. However, he suffered a life-threatening stroke in 1972 and was told he would never walk or talk again. But he did recover enough to do some directing in community theatre. He died from a heart attack on May 14, 1982 while visiting his son Hunter, a psychology professor living in Munich, Germany.

Tony Dow

Born in Hollywood, Dow's mother, Muriel Montrose, was a stuntwoman in early westerns, Clara Bow's movie double, and a Mack Sennett bathing beauty. Dow himself was a Junior Olympics diving champion before answering a casting call and being cast as Wally Cleaver with little prior acting experience.
He graduated from high school in 1963, the year Leave It to Beaver finished its 6-year run and had occasional guest appearances on other shows before joining the National Guard from 1965 to 1968. After that, he resumed acting but also studied construction and would later design luxury condominiums, became an amateur abstract sculptor, representing the U.S. at an exhibit at the Louvre in 2008, and ventured into directing episodes of Coach, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He was also visual effects supervisor on Babylon 5. In the 1990s he admitted to suffering from clinical depression and has appeared in videos on the subject. He currently lives in the mountains of Santa Monica with his second wife Lauren Schulkind.

Jerry Mathers

Gerald Patrick Mathers was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of a high school principal, and began appearing in commercials at the age of 2. He had already appeared in four feature-length films before being cast as Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, a role he won because he told the casting director that he would rather be at his cub scout meeting than at the audition. He was the first child actor to receive royalties from tie-in merchandise, which is still being produced today. At the end of the show's run in 1962, he recorded a single for Atlantic Records, "Don't 'Cha Cry" b/w "Wind-Up Toy," and formed a band called Beaver and the Trappers that continued recording for Atlantic after the TV show ended. One of their singles, "Happiness Is Havin'," became a #1 hit in Hawaii and Alaska.

Mathers wanted to leave Leave It to Beaver to attend high school as a normal kid, and after graduating from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA in 1967, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy. From 1966 to 1969 he was a member of the Air National Guard. In the 1970s he used his earnings from TV to get into real estate development and banking, serving as a loan officer for several years. He also ran his own catering company in the late 1990s called Cleaver's Catering. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996, and after taking corrective action and losing 55 pounds, he became a leading lecturer about the disease, even testifying before Congress on the topic. He has also been a spokesman for the National Psoriasis Foundation. He published his autobiography, And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver in 1998. In 2007, he replaced Jere Burns in the Broadway production of Hairspray. He remarried, to Teresa Modnick, in January 2011.

Ken Osmond

Osmond was born in Glendale, CA, the son of a carpenter and a homemaker with show business dreams for her boys Kenneth and Dayton. She had them take acting lessons, as well as lessons in diction, dialects, martial arts, and equestrian riding. Osmond began appearing in commercials at age 4 and his first film appearance was as a child extra in the Spencer Tracy film Plymouth Adventure. He had a few other appearances in film and TV shows like Fury, Annie Oakley, and Lassie before being cast as Wally's best friend, the two-faced troublemaker Eddie Haskell. Originally, the role was supposed to be a one-shot affair, but the producers were so impressed with Osmond's performance that he became a regular on the series and a cultural icon, so much so that, like most of the other actors from the series, he had trouble finding other work once Beaver ended.

After the occasional appearance on The Munsters and Petticoat Junction, Osmond gave up acting and joined the Los Angeles police force, growing a mustache to disguise his identity and working in vice and narcotics. He once was shot three times while pursuing a suspected car thief, though two of the bullets hit his bullet-proof vest and the third ricocheted off his belt buckle. He retired from the force in 1988 and took up managing rental properties in the Los Angeles area. He reprised his role as Eddie Haskell on all the subsequent Beaver  TV shows and movies, including the 1997 feature Leave It to Beaver.

Frank Bank

Besides playing the lethargic Lumpy Rutherford, Wally's classmate on Leave It to Beaver, Bank's film career is brief. He appeared as the child version of Will Rogers in The Story of Will Rogers in 1952 and had a single appearance on Father KnowsBest in 1956 before making 50 appearances on Beaver starting in 1958. During the show's run he had occasional work on Cimarron City, 87th Precinct, and Bachelor Father, as well as playing the title role in the 1962 TV movie and pilot about comic book character Archie Andrews, Life With Archie, which was not picked up for production. Like the other Beaver actors, Bank could not find work in acting after the series and became a successful municipal bonds trader in Southern California. He appeared in the 1980s TV movie and series as an adult Lumpy, and in 2002 published his autobiography Call Me Lumpy: My Leave It To Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life in which he claimed to have bedded over 1000 women and engaged in other escapades completely at odds with his TV character.

Rusty Stevens

Born Christmas Day 1948, Stevens played Beaver Cleaver's friend Larry Mondello in 68 episodes of Leave It to Beaver from 1957 till 1960, at which point his family left Burbank, CA for Philadelphia and effectively quashed his acting career. Prior to Beaver, Stevens had but a single appearance on the TV show Telephone Time, but during the show's run he had single appearances on 77 Sunset Strip, Shirley Temple Theatre, and Angel, as well as an uncredited appearance in the film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
After his family movied to Philadelphia, Stevens was able to make a few appearances on other TV show in the 1960s, including My Three Sons, Perry Mason, and Wagon Train. He later worked as an insurance salesman in New Jersey, and a detective had to be hired to track him down for his appearance in Still the Beaver and 3 episodes of The New Leave It to Beaver.

Stanley Fafara

Born in San Francisco, Fafara (whose older brother Tiger also appeared on Leave It to Beaver as Tooey Brown), Fafara had only a couple of acting appearances before being cast as Beaver's friend Whitey Whitney, though he had been appearing in commercials since the age of 4. He also had single appearances on The Millionaire, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and Man Without a Gun during Beaver's 6-year run. After the show ended, however, Fafara not only left acting but soon descended into a world of alcohol and drug abuse, even living with the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders for a while. He started using hard drugs in the mid-60s and then began dealing, eventually being arrested for breaking into pharmacies and sentenced to a year in jail. He tried working as a roofer, waiter, and janitor before succumbing to drugs again, but he finally became sober in 1995 and remained so for the last 8 years of his life. However, by this time he had contracted hepatitis C and would die from it September 23, 2003 at the age of 54.

Sue Randall

Marion Burnside Randall was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of an internationally known real estate consultant. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York , she began appearing on TV at age 20 in 1955. She made her only feature-length film appearance in the Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn vehicle Desk Set two years later, then made 4-6 TV guest appearances per year until first appearing as Beaver's teacher Miss Landers on Leave It to Beaver in 1958. She made 28 appearances on the series and continued with occasional guest appearances on other shows like Perry Mason, Bonanza, and The Fugitive until 1971. A heavy smoker all her life, she died of lung cancer at the age of 49 on October 26, 1984.

Notable Guest Stars

Season 3, Episode 14, "Tire Trouble": Richard Deacon (shown on the right, played Sherman Hall on The Charles Farrell Show, Roger Finley on Date With the Angels, Uncle Archie on Walt Disney Presents: Annette, Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Roger Buell on The Mothers-in-Law) plays Ward's business colleague Fred Rutherford.

Season 3, Episode 15, "Larry Hides Out": Madge Blake (shown on the left, played Mrs. Barnes on The Joey Bishop Show, Flora MacMichael on The Real McCoys, Tillie the Fan Club President on The Jack Benny Show, and Aunt Harriet Cooper on Batman) plays Beaver's friend Larry's mother Mrs. Mondello.
Season 3, Episode 16, "Pet Fair": Tim Graham (Homer on National Velvet) plays pet store owner Mr. Allen.

Season 3, Episode 17, "Wally's Test": Frank Albertson (shown on the right, starred in Alice Adams, Man Made Monster, and It's a Wonderful Life and played Mr. Cooper on Bringing Up Buddy) plays Wally's teacher Mr. Gannon.
Season 3, Episode 19, "Wally's Election": Ross Elliott (Freddie the director on The Jack Benny Show and Sheriff Abbott on The Virginian) plays Wally's teacher Mr. Hyatt. Cindy Carol (starred in Gidget Goes to Rome and played Binkie Massey on The New Loretta Young Show) plays Wally's classmate Alma Hanson. Ann Barnes (Cookie Bumstead on Blondie) plays Wally's classmate Frances Hobbs. Richard Deacon (see "Tire Trouble" above) returns as Fred Rutherford.
Season 3, Episode 21, "Beaver's Dance": Katherine Warren (starred in The Lady Pays Off, The Glenn Miller Story, and The Caine Mutiny) plays dance club hostess Mrs. Prescott. Karen Sue Trent (later played Penny Woods on Leave It to Beaver) plays a young girl at the dance. Madge Blake (see "Larry Hides Out" above) returns as Mrs. Mondello.
Season 3, Episode 25, "Wally and Alma": Jean Vander Pyl (shown on the left, the voice of Wilma Flintstone on The Flintstones, Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons, Ma and Floral Rugg on The Atom Ant Show, and The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, and Marge Huddles on Where's Huddles?) plays Alma's mother Mrs. Hanson. Cindy Carol (see "Wally's Election" above) returns as Alma Hanson. Barry Curtis (Ricky North on The Adventures of Champion and Court Whitney on Walt Disney Presents: Annette) plays Wally's classmate Harry Myers.
Season 3, Episode 26, "Beaver's Bike": Paul Bryar (Sheriff Harve Anders on The Long, Hot Summer) plays police Sgt. Peterson.
Season 3, Episode 27, "Wally's Orchid": Pamela Baird (Hildy Broeberg on My Friend Flicka, Nancy on Bachelor Father, and Mary Ellen Rogers on five other episodes of Leave It to Beaver) plays Wally's date Myra. Doris Packer (Mrs. Sohmers on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Clara Mason on Happy, and Clarice Osborne on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays Beaver's principal Mrs. Rayburn.
Season 3, Episode 28, "Ward's Baseball": Richard Deacon (see "Tire Trouble" above) returns as Fred Rutherford.
Season 3, Episode 29, "Beaver's Monkey": Norman Leavitt (Ralph on Trackdown) plays a veterinarian.
Season 3, Episode 30, "Beaver Finds a Wallet": Valerie Allen (shown on the right, appeared in The Joker Is Wild, The Five Pennies, Bells Are Ringing, and Pillow Talk, and played Verna Mason on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Anne Banner on The Texan) plays the woman who lost the wallet, Miss Tomkins. Jess Kirkpatrick (Frank Teeters on Gunsmoke) plays an unnamed police sergeant.
Season 3, Episode 31, "Mother's Day Composition": Doris Packer (see "Wally's Orchid" above) returns as Mrs. Rayburn. Bill Baldwin (announcer on The Bob Cummings Show, the narrator on Bat Masterson, and played a variety of announcers, newsmen, and emcees on a host of programs including Mister Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Addams Family) plays TV interviewer Frank.
Season 3, Episode 32, "Beaver and Violet": Veronica Cartwright (shown on the left, older sister of Angela Cartwright, starred in The Birds, The Children's Hour, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Alien, The Right Stuff, and The Witches of Eastwick and played Jemima Boone on Daniel Boone, Molly Hark on Tanner '88, A.D.A. Margaret Flanagan on L.A. Law, Cassandra Spender on The X-Files, Valerie Shenkman on Invasion, and Bun Waverly on Eastwick) plays Fred Rutherford's daughter Violet. Majel Barrett (Nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek, the voice of the computer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, and played Julianne Belman on Earth: The Final Conflict) plays Fred's wife Gwen. Richard Deacon (see "Tire Trouble" above) returns as Fred Rutherford.
Season 3, Episode 34, "Beaver the Model": Bartlett Robinson (Frank Caldwell on Mona McCluskey) plays Ward's lawyer friend George Compton. Aline Towne (Joan Gilbert on Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe) plays Compton's secretary.
Season 3, Episode 35, "Wally the Businessman": Ann Jillian (shown on the right, starred in Babes in Toyland, Gypsy, and Mr. Mom and played Milly on Hazel, Jennifer Farrell on Jennifer Slept Here, Cassie Cranston on It's a Living, and Ann McNeil on Ann Jillian) plays one of Wally's ice cream customers.
Season 3, Episode 35, "Wally's Play": Tommy Ivo (Herbie Bailey on The Donna Reed Show and Haywood Botts on Margie) plays Wally's fraternity brother Duke Hathaway.

Season 4, Episode 1, "Beaver Won't Eat": Hal Smith (shown second from left, played Charlie Henderson on I Married Joan, Hickey on Jefferson Drum, Otis Campbell on The AndyGriffith Show, Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, and did voicework on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, The Fantastic Four, The Dukes, and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) plays a restaurant manager. Bea Silvern (Etta Bormann on Secrets of Midland Heights) plays a waitress.

Season 4, Episode 2, "Beaver's House Guest": Barry Gordon (shown on the right, played Dennis Whitehead on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Charlie Harrison on Fish, Gary Rabinowitz on Archie Bunker's Place, Roger Hightower on A Family for Joe, and the voice of Donatello on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) plays Beaver's friend Chopper. Clark Howat (Dr. John Petrie on The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu) plays Chopper's "Uncle Dave."
Season 4, Episode 4, "Wally the Lifeguard": John Hiestand (Mr. Jason on Room for One More and the radio announcer's voice on The Waltons) plays Friend's Lake manager Mr. Burton. Dick Gering (Johnny Green on Margie) plays a lifeguard. Cindy Carol (see "Wally's Election" above) returns as Alma Hanson. Pamela Baird (see "Wally's Orchid" above) plays Mary Ellen Rogers.
Season 4, Episode 6, "Beaver's Contest": Burt Mustin (shown on the left, played Foley on The Great Gildersleeve, Mr. Finley on Date With the Angels, Jud Fletcher on The Andy Griffith Show, and Justin Quigley on All in the Family) plays Gus the fireman. Mark Allen (Matt Kissel on The Travels of Jamie McPheeters and Sam Evans on Dark Shadows) plays a traffic cop.
Season 4, Episode 8, "Eddie's Double-Cross": Reba Waters (Francesca on Peck's Bad Girl) plays Eddie's girlfriend Caroline Shuster. Cindy Carol (see "Wally's Election" above) returns as Alma Hanson.
Season 4, Episode 9, "Beaver's I.Q.": Doris Packer (see "Wally's Orchid" above) returns as Mrs. Rayburn. Karen Sue Trent (see "Beaver's Dance" above) plays Beaver's classmate Penny Woods.
Season 4, Episode 10, "Wally's Glamour Girl": Bernadette Withers (shown on the right, played Ginger on Bachelor Father) plays Wally's date Kitty Bannerman.
Season 4, Episode 11, "Chuckie's Shoes": Marjorie Reynolds (Peg Riley on The Life of Riley) plays the Cleavers' neighbor Mrs. Murdock. Jess Kirkpatrick (see "Beaver Finds a Wallet" above) plays a department store shoe salesman.  
Season 4, Episode 12, "Beaver and Kenneth": Jean Vander Pyl (see "Wally and Alma" above) plays mother's day school committee head Mrs. Thompson. William Bakewell (starred in The Iron Mask, Playing Around, Guilty Hands, and The Fabulous Dorseys) plays Kenneth's father Mr. Purcell. 
Season 4, Episode 13, "Beaver's Accordion": John Hoyt (shown on the left, starred in My Favorite Brunette, The Lady Gambles, and Blackboard Jungle and played Grandpa Stanley Kanisky on Gimme a Break!) plays music company collector Mr. Franklin.

Season 4, Episode 14, "Uncle Billy": Edgar Buchanan (shown on the right, played Uncle Joe Carson on The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction, Red Connors on Hopalong Cassidy, Judge Roy Bean on Judge Roy Bean, and J.J. Jackson on Cade's County) plays Ward's Uncle Billy. Henry Hunter (Doctor Summerfield on Hazel) plays a sporting goods store clerk.


  1. Great stuff. One of my favorite TV shows of all time. But I was surprised you didn't include Jeri Weil as "Judy Hensler." Beaver's antagonist. She was on the show several times. Another great anti-hero like Eddie Haskell.

  2. Hey admin,
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  3. Barry Gordon also stared in a really great 1965 movie opposite Jason Robards and Martin Balsam Thousand Clowns. He's been in a whole lot of things and has kept working through the years which most child actors from the late 50s and 60s didn't.

  4. I always had a "thing" for Sue Randall, who also played a lot of roles on such programs of the era as "Sea Hunt" and "Perry Mason", among others. Another "Beaver" alumnus I had an attraction to was Cheryl Holdridge (Julie Foster). Ironically, both of the above actresses died of the same insidious disease, lung cancer. Care to smoke, anyone?