cleavers

I have been laid up this past week with a terrible sinus infection, including a dreadful sore throat. While convelescing, I have been enjoying Netflix instant viewing, and got caught up in episodes of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

The main cast included:

ward

Hugh Beaumont, born in 1909, Lawrence, Kansas, died in 1992 at the age of 73. Once BEAVER ceased production, his career was pretty lousing and he was forced into community theatre productions.

mathers

Jerry Mathers is no longer in television, but has remained a familiar face on talk shows throughout the years. Jerry is also very involved in a number of issues:

Psoriasis

Mathers is a spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation to raise awareness of psoriasis, educate the public about new biologic therapies, and generate hope for people with this serious, lifelong disease.

Diabetes

Mathers was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. He took preventative action, lost 45 pounds and became one of the leading lecturers on living with and dealing with diabetes. Mathers has partnered with diverse organizations to bring awareness of this epidemic to the public and is currently the national spokesperson for Johnson and Johnson’s OneTouch Ultra2 System blood glucose monitoring system.

Other careers

Current

  • Frank Bank, who played Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the Beaver show, is now Mathers’s investment adviser.
  • Mathers, who is an FCC licensed broadcaster, often guest hosts on national talk-radio programs and is trained in radio satellite broadcasting.
  • Mathers has also had recurring spots on The Tonight Show with host Jay Leno.
  • He is currently a speaker at business conventions, where he addresses the emotional state of the American family and the effects of television on society today, using the fabled Cleavers from his early television career.

tony-dow-1-sized

Tony Dow, born 1945, has remained active in television and motion pictures.

Dow was born to John Stevens, a designer and general contractor, and Muriel Virginia Dow (nee Montrose), a stunt woman in early westerns and Clara Bow‘s movie double in Hollywood, California. In his youth, Dow was a Junior Olympics diving champion.  He won the role of Wally Cleaver in a casting call with almost no previous acting experience.

Dow remained on the series until it ended in 1963. After the run of Leave It to Beaver, he appeared on My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, Mr. Novak, and Never Too Young. In 1965, Dow briefly stopped acting and joined the National Guard. Dow left the National Guard in 1968[4] and returned to acting with guest starring roles in Adam-12, Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Hardy Boys, and Emergency!.

During the 1970s, he continued acting while working in the construction business and studying journalism and filmmaking. Dow’s most recent onscreen appearance was in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Dow also served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he provided visual effects for the FOX TVM Doctor Who.

In the 1990s, Dow revealed that he has struggled and was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. He has since starred in self-help videos chronicling his battle with depression.  He has been quite open about discussing it, even appearing in videos discussing his personal battle with depression, including Beating the Blues (1998), which Dow hosted and in which he talked about his personal struggle with depression.

Dow has become a serious, respected amateur sculptor, creating abstract bronze sculptures. In his artist statement, he says the following about his work: “The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them. I find the wood in the hills of Topanga Canyon and each piece evolves from my subconscious. I produce limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture.” One of his bronze pieces is on display in the backyard garden of Barbara Billingsley, who played his mother in Leave It to Beaver. Dow was chosen as one of three sculptors to show at the Societe Nationale Des Beaux Arts exhibition in the Louvre in Paris in December of 2008, representing the United States delegation comprising artists from the Karen Lynne Gallery. The sculpture that will be shown at the Louvre is titled “Unarmed Warrior,” which is a bronze figure of a woman holding a shield.

barbara-billingsley

Barbara Billingsley, born in 1915, has also kept an active career in motion pictures and television, often portraying her “June Cleaver” personna.

With a year at Los Angeles Junior College behind her, Billingsley traveled to Broadway when Straw Hat, a revue in which she was appearing, attracted enough attention to send it to New York. When, after five days, the show closed, she took an apartment on 57th Street and went to work as a $60-a-week fashion model.

As an actress on the silver screen, she had usually uncredited roles in major motion picture productions in the 1940s. These roles continued into the first half of the 1950s with The Bad and the Beautiful as well as the sci-fi story Invaders from Mars (1953). Her film experience led to roles on the sitcoms Professional Father and The Brothers and an appearance with David Niven on his anthology series Four Star Playhouse.

Billingsley became best known for her role in the 1950s and 1960s television series Leave It to Beaver as June Cleaver, wife of Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) and the mother of Wally (Tony Dow) and Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). The Cleaver household became iconic in its representation of an archetypal suburban lifestyle associated with 1950s America. In the show, Billingsley often could be seen doing household chores wearing pearls and earrings. The pearls were her idea. The actress had an unsightly surgical scar on her neck and thought that wearing a strand of pearls could cover it up for the cameras. In later seasons of the show she also started wearing high heels to compensate for the fact that the actors who played her sons were getting taller than her. [1] The sitcom show ran from 1957 to 1963 and proved to be very lucrative for Billingsley.

When production of the show ended in 1963, Billingsley became typecast as saccharine sweet and had trouble obtaining acting jobs for years. She traveled extensively abroad until the late 1970s. After an absence of 17 years from the public eye (other than appearing in two episodes of The F.B.I. in 1971), Billingsley spoofed her wholesome image with a brief appearance in the comedy Airplane! (1980), as a passenger who could “speak jive.”

She became the voice of “Nanny” and “The Little Train” on Muppet Babies from 1984 to 1991.

Billingsley appeared in a Leave It to Beaver reunion television movie entitled Still the Beaver in 1983, a year after her on-screen husband during the six-year original run of the series, Hugh Beaumont, died of a heart attack. She also appeared in the subsequent revival television series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985-1989). In the 1997 film version of Leave It to Beaver, Billingsley played the character “Aunt Martha”.

Now in her 90s, Billingsley recently completed a role on NBC’s sitcom My Name Is Earl.

On May 6, 2008, she was one of the panelists at the Academy Leonard Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, California, where the Academy of Television Arts & Science presented, “A Salute to TV Moms.” Besides Billingsley, other TV moms attended the party, such as: Marjorie Lord, Bonnie Franklin, Vicki Lawrence, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Diahann Carroll, Catherine Hicks and Meredith Baxter.

Billingsley was born Barbara Lillian Combes in Los Angeles, California. She and her first husband, Glenn Billingsley, a successful restaurateur, had two sons, Drew and Glenn, Jr. Since 1974, Drew and Glenn have owned and operated Billingsley’s Restaurant in West Los Angeles, in the tradition of their father, and their great uncle, Sherman Billingsley, founder of New York City‘s very fashionable 1940s-era nightclub, The Stork Club. Billingsley divorced Glenn Billingsley, but kept his surname professionally, and later married Roy Kellino, a director. After Kellino’s death, she married Dr. William Mortenson, who died in 1981.

Billingsley is related by marriage to actor/producer Peter Billingsley, known for his starring role as Ralphie in the seasonal classic A Christmas Story. First husband Glenn’s cousin is Peter’s mother, Gail Billingsley.

Film roles (credited)

  • The Argyle Secrets (1948)
  • Valiant Hombre (1948)
  • Prejudice (1949)
  • I Cheated the Law (1949)
  • Air Hostess (1949)
  • Shadow on the Wall (1950)
  • Trial Without Jury (1950)
  • Pretty Baby (1950)
  • Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
  • Inside Straight (1951)
  • Two Dollar Bettor (1951)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
  • Young Man with Ideas (1952)
  • Woman in the Dark (1952)
  • The Lady Wants Mink (1953)
  • The Careless Years (1957)
  • Airplane! (1980)
  • Still the Beaver (1983) (TV)
  • Leave It to Beaver (1997)
  • Secret Santa (2003) (TV)

Television shows

And here are the Cleavers today. Barbara Billingsley is seated between her on-screen sons, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow. Standing behind them are Frank Banks “Lumpy Rutherford” and Ken Osmond “Eddie Haskell”.

cleavers-today1

Advertisements