The Conservatory’s Drama Arts & Theatre Department: Child Prodigies: Musicians and Actors. A Tribute to Leave It To Beaver (Joe Connelly/Bob Mosher)
“RAT, RAT, RAT, RAT, RAT, RAT, RAT, RAT!”—-One of my favourite parts of Leave It To Beaver and which always makes me laugh each time was when Beaver did his “rat, rat, rat” thing — you could almost feel it coming in the script — which he shouted to Wally up in their bedroom on multiple occasions during the six seasons (beginning in Season 3, episode 13 “June’s Birthday”). Although he did his “rat” thing less as he started puberty and was getting taller, his voice was slowly changing. He did a shortened version of “rat, rat, rat” at the end of “Beaver’s Birthday” in Season 5, Episode 4 when Wally said you better get into the bathroom and “brush those teeth.” Beaver did run into the bathroom with Wally chasing him near the end of Season 6 and we expected to hear “rat, rat, rat…” but Beaver didn’t say that any longer. He’d outgrown it by then.
UPDATE: 26 July 2022: I was terribly sorry to read that Wally/Tony Dow died this morning of cancer. Or was it the morning of the 27th? I’ve never seen such confusion over an obituary as to when someone died as was the case with Tony Dow, with various stories being reported about his death or pending death. Very odd. Now Beaver/Jerry Mathers is the only remaining member of the main cast (Cleaver Family). He wrote a tribute to Wally, all the things he said was the person I had sensed Tony was as a person, particularly humble. Tony was a very down-to-Earth guy from the beginning. He was even critical of his own acting on the show. I think at times he thought he was too halting and he told himself after seeing himself on the show: Just do it! I don’t think he watched much of LITB — even after it ended — because he said he didn’t like seeing himself on camera, and the kids on the show were told by production not to watch it on television. Eddie Haskel was the last “major” person from the cast who died back in May 2020. I suppose Tony’s death was somewhat expected since he had been having health problems over the past years, including prostate cancer. Beaver said Tony was like a brother to him in real life, not just on the show, Yeah, I can see how that would be the case. Anyway, I felt stunned when I heard of Tony’s death and I hope he has a good trip (and no I don’t believe in heaven or hell). END OF UPDATE.
The principle cast consisted of: Barbara Billingsley (June), Hugh Beaumont (Ward), Tony Dow (Wally) and Jerry Mathers (The Beaver). They were known as The Cleavers.
Leave It To Beaver (LITB) is one of the finest — but most misunderstood — shows to ever be on television. And in this article I explain why and how that’s the case.
I think most people mistakenly think, “It’s a kid’s show; it’s a show for kids.” No, it is not. That is not true at all. And I think that’s the #1 misconception about this show.
Many people gush in comment sections, “I loved this show as a child.” Liars! I don’t know what these people are talking about. Because how could they love something that they didn’t even understand? How could they understand it when Tony Dow didn’t understand much of it? And he was on the show as one of the main actors. A point I plan to hammer throughout this article because I’m so sick and tired of reading the same shit, “I loved this show as a child” from nearly everyone who writes about it when they could not have possibly understood it with their child’s mind. And that’s because the show requires an adult’s mind to understand it and the topics covered. It’s a show for adults — not kids — to teach adults non-violent parenting skills, communication skills and how to deal with their kids in various life situations.
Bottom line: “I loved this show as a child” is just a throw-way line that conformist, very mainstream sheeple write and they say the same thing about all the other shows of that era, even though LITB was not like any other show of that time.
I often wonder if the people who claim to have watched LITB (mostly conservatives), did so with the volume turned up? Or did they only hear what they wanted to hear, or did they only watch certain parts of it that they could — maybe, possibly — understand, such as the dialogue between the kids in Beaver’s school? Such as the hallway scenes or the scenes on sports fields.
The Joe Connelly/Bob Mosher LITB script was for a mature adult’s mind, not for a child’s mind.
So knowing that, it makes one wonder what the people who say, “I loved this show as a child” were watching and what they are talking about that they loved? Because again, how could one love something that one does not understand?
A child’s mind could not have possibly loved this show because it was an adult script, that explains why the show did not hold my attention as a child. It was over my head, I didn’t love this show as a child because I didn’t understand it as a child and I only watched parts of a couple of episodes of it as I recall. But these “I loved this show as a child” people say the same thing about all other shows of that era, even though LITB was not like any other show of that era.
Even Tony Dow (who played Beaver’s brother, Wally) said he didn’t understand much of the script as a teenager on the show, so since that’s the case and he was in his teen years, how could the rest of you possibly have understood it who were much younger than Tony? You didn’t understand it. People just lie and say anything, don’t they?! Yes they do. Lying is the norm these days, even from those who pretend to be a “Christian.” And I’ve come to expect lying from “Christians,” especially the scum politicians we have who hide behind the bible and flag, and pretend to be a “Christian.”
Leave It To Beaver was way ahead of its time in many ways by the adult topics it covered, such as:
Animal rights, homelessness, the welcoming of people of other ethnic groups such as Latinos/Hispanos, Wally learning español/Spanish in school and his line to June, “I don’t want to even think in English,” the topics of alcoholism and explaining that to a kid, the controversy of buying a new suit for a special occasion and conformity, divorce and how that has a deep bearing on kids, teenagers with their fad hairstyles and the controversy over how to deal with one’s teenager, learning to drive a vehicle/driver’s education in high school, or teaching a teenager how to buy as car (which Ward did with Wally) et al. These are adult topics that a child’s mind cannot possibly understand. Depending upon the age of the child, a child might understand Beaver’s lines or the lines from some of the other kids of his age in the show if they could understand the context of those lines. But a child would not understand many or most of the lines that Wally, Ward, June, Ms Rayburn, Ms Landers, Ms Canfield, Gus the Fireman (Beaver’s mentor) and all his wisdom from his life experiences (and he was super-nice to Beaver), the dialogue from the various store clerks or the postal employee and others in the cast had.
LITB taught non-violent parenting skills, not “a hitting father,” a term Beaver used.
The show was remarkable for that era in a way. The show taught adults non-violent parenting skills in dealing with kids with the overall theme being: It’s nice to be nice and to do the right thing, none of which was based in religion (except for one episode that touched on that) or that “moral” nonsense. The words that conservatives love to attach to this show such as “wholesome and morals” and “family values” were not even a part of the Connelly/Mosher script. That is of their own conservative making; their own agenda, and conservatives always come with their agenda.
This show has gotten a bad rap and I think it’s because of how the conservatives have written about it over the years. It’s nothing like they describe it. As I asked earlier, one wonders if they’ve even watched the show or are they the same people who go on about how, “I loved this show as a child.” I’d like to ask the conservative prudes who want this show to be one of their imagination, rather than what it is:
Did you like all the anti-marriage references that Connelly/Mosher put in the script, including those lines spoken by Ward and Wally, as well as all the anti-girl comments?
Does that sound like “pure and wholesome and family-values” to you, conservatives?
Ward made it clear at times throughout the six seasons by his various lines in the script that he was not all that hot on marriage. Ward made it rather clear that once a couple starts having kids that their own personal life ends and from then on — in order to be good parents — the parents’ life is entirely focused on and dedicated to the life of their kids and to provide the best life for them as possible. Personal experience: I saw exactly that with the couple across the street from me after their two kids were born, who are now teenagers, 18 (girl) and 15 (boy). Their parents’ lives were entirely dedicated to their kids, and the parents began living a rather manic lifestyle compared to the much calmer lifestyle they had lived before becoming parents. Did they ever sleep since becoming parents? Not much from what I saw and it aged them considerably. Their dad’s face looks more like the aged face of a grandfather than their dad. The same for their mother.
And then there was Wally’s line after he had been invited to a friend’s apartment (a young married couples), he said to Ward and June that he had learned from that experience that, “When you’re having fun, that marriage stuff is nothing to mess with.” Did you hear that conservatives?
Or did you conservatives choose to not hear any of that whilst you refer to this show as “wholesome” and other conservative bunk? Anti-marriage comments are “wholesome” and “family values” to you?
And what about the many anti-girl comments in the script, particularly from Wally and The Beaver? Were they “wholesome” and “family values” as well, conservatives in your twisted minds? This is why I wonder if the conservative — “I loved this show as a child” — crowd even watched the show with the volume up? And other anti-girl comments were also made by Ward at times, as well as “some of the guys,” such as Eddie H, Lumpy/Clarence R and others). And these lines I’m referencing were meant to be taken seriously because the show was not a comedy, but rather on the more serious side.
Child Prodigies – Actors & Musicians
I consider Jerry Mathers (Beaver) and Tony Dow (Wally) to be child prodigies for their acting abilities, even though Tony had no acting experience before being cast for the show. To me he seemed like a natural for the part and that’s why I think of him as a child prodigy. Was the child actor who played the role of Beaver’s classmate, Judy Hensler (played by Jeri Weil), a child prodigy as well? Possibly. She played her snooty role exceptional well. Because Judy went into puberty, she was replaced by equally snooty Penny Woods (played by Karen Trent). But I suspect that humble and modest Tony Dow would probably say, “Nah, I wasn’t any child prodigy.” Oh yes you were. He played the role of Wally perfectly without any acting training or experience. There have been numerous child prodigies in the classical music field, including pianist Marta Argerich and pianist/conductor, Daniel Barenboim. They are two who come to mind.
LITB has run uninterrupted on television since its premiere. It’s still on one network having the rights to air it, although one will not see the complete LITB there because parts of the show have been cut or censored with Medicare ads running on top of it, or it was when I was watching the show on that network. I’ll talk about the censorship later. And I know they’re not showing the complete version from having seen the complete show elsewhere; they’re not airing complete episodes in many cases on the television network.
“Moral Instructions?” Absolute rubbish!
The conservatives love to go on about the “moral instruction” at the end of the episodes and I’ve read that annoying description several times whilst writing this article, and I’m going to now challenge that rubbish:
Moral instruction implies religious dogma, or at least it does to many people. When Ward or June were talking with the boys about something that the boys should not have done, it was not based in religion and I’ve never thought of what they were doing as “moral instruction” but rather instilling in the boys the tools for making the best decisions in the future. It has nothing to do with “morals,” but rather just using your brain in doing what’s right for yourself and other people. Doing the right thing has nothing to do with “morals.” What I saw Ward and June doing, I saw from a purely secular perspective since they were not talking about any religious bunk when they were doing so. One doesn’t need religion or a belief in some god — some Floating Cloud Being — to make good decisions. But the conservatives with their agenda feel the need to wrap this show in “morality” and “moral instruction.” That’s rubbish.
“The intersections of morality and religion involve the relationship between religious views and morals. It is common for religions to have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong.”
Another quote I read:
“It is simply impossible for people to be moral without religion or God.” What a ludicrous and insane statement to make. There are many good people in the world who are not religious nor do they believe in a Floating Cloud Being god. But this makes my point for me about the intertwining/mixing of “morals” and religion.
LITB was not a comedy show and one never saw Wally or the Beaver cracking up with laughter. No, what they did was mostly smiles or the occasional very subtle chuckle. There was nothing silly or childish about the show, even though many kids were featured on the show. Wally and The Beaver were both pretty serious boys, as were most of the other kids on the show (Larry M, Gilbert, Richard come to mind). The only character who laughed on occasion was Eddie Haskel with his signature laugh which he became known for.
LITB was a very serious show despite the occasional light humour in it. As a child, all I remember watching of it was Wally and Beaver up in their bedroom, and I wanted a bedroom like their bedroom but our house was not designed like the LITB set.
I asked my best friend if he ever watched it as a child and he said “No,” and he said the same thing about the show that I’ve written here. He didn’t understand the show either as a kid, and he now realises that’s because the show was a show for adults and an adult mind, not for kids. It was a show about kids and parents, but it was not written for a child’s mind. And that is the glaring misunderstanding about this show.
But the Cleaver household and the other households that we saw were rather serious households (Larry Mondello’s household and his mother, Fred Rutherford’s household, little Benji Belamy’s household come to mind). Ward and June tried to instill a level of maturity into their two young boys. We never saw Ward or June bursting out laughing either, just smiles or subtle chuckles, mostly from Ward. June mostly smiled about anything humorous. In fact, I don’t remember seeing anyone on the show bursting out laughing on LITB. Well other than Lumpy and Eddie on occasion but even their laughs with each other were subdued by today’s fake “ROFLMAO” standards. And that’s because LITB wasn’t that type of show. It was not a comedy, per se. LITB was nothing like, “I Love Lucy,” for example. And this seriousness in LITB was all intended. It’s the way the writers/producers, Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher intended it to be. There was a quiet laugh track with the show, but that too was more subtle with no one “laughing their head off.” And from what Tony Dow said about the producers, they wanted only lines (on occasion) that would generate a slight chuckle. They did not want any outburst laughing that would stop the dialogue to get a major laugh in.
But I suspect most of the people who claimed to have loved the show as a child couldn’t begin to quote me any lines from the script because they went over your head and you didn’t understand many of the lines or you weren’t really actively listening to the script.
Religion was also not a part of this show other than — on the odd occasion — occasional references were made to the Christian god fellow. Only one episode was sort of heavy on god (such as “he’s watching you,” – June said to Beaver), but that was it. The Cleavers were never seen in any church. In fact, no one on the show was ever seen in a church. Only quick references were made to church or “Sunday School” on rare occasions, such as “that’s your church suit” that Beaver said to Wally. On weekends, the Cleavers were always busy with something or going somewhere, but not to church, such as up to the lake. Occasional references were made to having been to church, but it was only in passing as “filler” in the script. It certainly was not a main theme. Hugh Beaumont was an ordained minister of the Methodist Church, but that was not at all part of the script.
Also, The Cleavers were never seen praying before eating any meal, or what’s known as “saying grace.” We didn’t “say grace” (what a stupid saying) in our household either except when we were trying to impress some clergy member who was invited to dinner on the odd occasion. I always dreaded that part hoping I wouldn’t be the one picked to “say grace.” To me it was embarrassing and so phony since we only did it when “special company” was invited over. So as allegedly religious as the religious nuts like to pretend this show was, one would think that The Cleavers would have “said grace” before each meal, but that was not the case at all. They just sat down and ate and that was particularly seen for breakfasts. Also for breakfast, they came to the table one-by-one at random. Sometimes Wally and Beaver would be eating and Ward would join them shortly after, then June would sit and eat with them. For breakfast, they usually had fried eggs (not scrambled) and or very thin-looking pancakes. Of course all the food had been made by the studio’s Commissary, but the appearance was that June had made it all and she served it from the island where the stove elements were (second house). And there was an oven built in the wall. For the first house, she had a stove with elements on the top. For dinner scenes, the four were usually already seated and eating when the camera began filming a scene. Or Wally and or Beaver would come to the dinner table after a scene had begun.
Did I love this show as a child? (as all the rest claim).
No, because I didn’t understand it. It’s just that I don’t lie about loving a show that I didn’t, and where I only watched maybe parts of a couple episodes because it didn’t hold my attention as a child. But I do love the show as an adult because I now completely understand it. The script is superb and I’ve actively listened to every episode multiple times in the six season series.
I’m going to give some examples of the script that a child’s mind could not possibly understand:
A child’s mind does not have the maturity to grasp topics such as animal rights issues, divorce, homelessness, and all the other topics that were covered on LITB. The show was way ahead of its time in the topics they covered.
Take these quotes from the script:
“Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you have to like girls.”—Connelly/Mosher, that’s a quote from the script of Leave It To Beaver, and there were many lines in the script over the 6 seasons similar to that. In that quote, Connelly and Mosher were cutting down girls.
Again, people — especially conservatives — love to describe LITB in words such as, “wholesome,” “moral” and “family values.” How’s that quote (above) about marriage for your “wholesome, moral and family values” conservatives? I’ve found that the conservatives love to paint this picture of a show that is really some creation of their own imagination and what they want to believe it was, rather than what it really was.
I can only assume that they didn’t listen to much of the script either. That’s why I asked: Did they have the volume up on their television? But then as a child, their mind would not be able to understand the script even with the volume up, so they’ve made my point for me. So these people who gush, “I loved this show as a child” have made themselves to look like idiots, because the script was for adults.
Here’s another example from the script:
June: “Isn’t Beaver too old to tell us lies?” Ward: Ah no dear, but he’s too old to think he can get away with it.” (Ward to Beaver, same episode): “Don’t mess things up further by lying to us.” Season 5, Episode 4 (Beaver’s Birthday)
Now what child would be able to understand lying and lies and “being too old to think he can get away with it?” In the same episode, what would a child understand about sending “thank you” notes to birthday gift-givers or about the girl’s parents being stuck with the bill for the wedding expenses? A child’s mind would not understand any of that. June said about that (the girls’ parents being stuck with the bill): “That’s just an old custom, Wally.” Wally then said to Ward: “Boy, we really could have killed you if me and the Beaver had been girls.” Ward: “Well I won’t say that you’re not wounding me a little as it is.” In the same episode, Wally called Gilbert’s dad “a crank.” A child’s mind would not understand any of that dialogue or know the meaning of the term “a crank” either. In the same episode, Wally’s referenced, “that etiquette junk” (that he learned in school). A child’s mind would not understand anything about etiquette. During the series, Wally also used the words “bunk” from time-to-time as well as “puss,” when he referred to Beaver’s face, “when they see your puss…”
No child would know what the words: “bunk, crank or puss” mean. Again, for the thick people, the show’s script was over the head of any child and that’s because, again, the show wasn’t written for children as the lying conservatives like to imply. The show was written for adults.
But because the show is about kids and parenting skills, I think that’s why many people — who apparently didn’t even watch it or listen to the script — mistakenly think it was a show for kids and that’s why many people mindlessly say on cue, “I loved this show as a child.” Oh please! Stop writing that bunk in online comments because you make yourself look like an idiot.
A child’s mind would also not have understood the context of, “rat, rat, rat.” A child’s mind — if they know what a rat is depending upon the child’s age — would think that Beaver saw a rat in the bathroom and was screaming about it to Wally. Not that he was calling Wally a rat. It has to do with context and a child’s mind does not understand context. Even some adults don’t understand the context of things until it’s carefully explained to them.
“When you’re still having fun, that marriage stuff is nothing to mess with.”—a quote from Wally (Connelly/Mosher’s script from Season 5, Episode 1).
Examining these quotes from the script about marriage, how are they for your “morals,” “wholesome,” and “family values” and all that other bunk you go on about, conservatives? I listened to the entire script and watched the entire show and all 6 seasons multiple times, which I suspect you haven’t done in an “active listening” mode, paying close attention to the script. Unlike the conservatives, I didn’t pick and choose what I wanted to hear from the script to paint this unrealistic picture/view of the show as they do.
So again, to hammer the point: those who you who lie and say, “I loved this show as a child,” did you understand those lines (above) in the script where Connelly and Mosher were putting down liking girls (“just because you’re married”) and cutting down marriage? Of course not. A child’s mind cannot possibly understand that.
It’s as if the conservatives watched a different show than I did, and they confuse that show with Leave It To Beaver.
Or, is it that they like to deny some of the script and the lines spoken by the cast members when they’re going on about how this show is so, “wholesome” and “moral” and “instills morals” and other delusional rubbish that they dream up in their heads in order to think what they want about the show?
As a brief aside: If you notice some repetition in this article, that’s because it was written over many months as we watched the six seasons of Leave It To Beaver. I’ve left some of the repetition in deliberately to hammer points. It’s not that I don’t remember what I’ve already said. Proofing it however — which I’ve attempted to do many times — has been a bitch because of its length and this article is intended to be as complete as possible about the many aspects of this superb show. As for this article being a bitch to proof: I can hear June tell Wally: “Wally, I wish you wouldn’t use words like bitch.” Wally would then likely correct himself and say, “Okay mom, proofing it has been extremely difficult.” BTW, the word “bitch” was used in one episode of LITB when Beaver referred to “the bitches” on one episode in Season 4. We listened to that line twice to make sure we were hearing it correctly. Yes, “the bitches” is what Beaver said.
Barbara Billingsley died in 2022? (No she didn’t.)
Unfortunately some (stupid) people will believe anything they read, and even though it’s 2022, they have unfortunately never learned to use a search engine to confirm misinformation. Most recently, a channel on AdTube uploaded a video about Barbara Billingsley’s death and they made it sound like she had just died “last Saturday” (in 2022). It was tacky click-bait stuff just to get people to watch the video. Fact: Barbara B. died 12 years ago in 2010 at the age of 94, but many people in the comments fell for the lie and didn’t bother to confirm her death by using a search engine. Many people wrote the expected spew: Such as “RIP, Barbara.” That’s what the sheeple notoriously write when someone dies. Barbara’s been dead for over a decade, not since “last Saturday,” you stupid people! And as usual, the commenters wrote how they watched LITB and, “I loved this show as a child.” Yes, they always write the same spew and make it sound like they understood the show with their child’s mind.
Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher were two of the most brilliant writers and creators in television history.
Regarding the script: In our household as a child, we were not required to say, “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” So hearing Beaver and Wally say that throughout the series to Ward sounded weird and too formal to me, based on my childhood experience. Although it was apparently required in the Connelly/Mosher household because LITB is based on the lives of their kids, where Wally plays the role of Jay Connelly (Joe Connelly’s son).
How old were Beaver and Wally?
Ward told Fred Rutherford near the beginning of Season 1 that Beaver was 7 and Wally was 13. So keep that in mind whilst watching the series. At the end of Season 6, Beaver is 13 and going into high school and Wally is 19 and going to college/university. He was going to State.
In LITB, the producers-writers — Connelly and Mosher — were critical of their own television industry at times in the script.
One of the lines from the script was: I think they’ve finally found an audience for that medium (television) or something like that. I don’t remember the exact line. And Beaver and Wally rarely watched television, so Connelly/Mosher certainly did not promote television in their production. When the script promoted television it had to do with the story line and a school assignment. But come to think of it, “I Love Lucy” didn’t promote television either which was their industry. And no one was sitting around watching television usually, other than Ricky and Fred watching “the fights” at night in a couple of episodes. Lucy and Ethel didn’t watch television. They read magazines or books, or were on the phone gossiping with one of the girls.
To hammer this point:
LITB is a show intended to teach adults non-violent parenting skills.
How many of the people who gush over this show and who say “I loved this show as a child” knew that the show taught non-violent parenting skills? I suspect none knew that because a child’s mind cannot grasp what “non-violent parenting skills” are.
The overall theme of LITB was: “It’s nice to be nice and to do the right thing.”
No religious bunk or religious dogma are required to be nice and to do the right thing. The words “morals” and “wholesome” and “family values” were not in the Connelly’s/Mosher’s script.
*******As I said earlier, as a child, the only parts I vaguely remember watching of LITB were the interactions between Wally and Beaver up in their bedroom. I don’t remember much of the rest of it. I remember wanting a bedroom like their bedroom, but that wasn’t possible because my bedroom was of a completely different design and there were no bunk beds. A production note: In Season 1, their bunk beds were stacked, with Beaver on the top bunk. But production must have decided it would be easier from a production point to have the beds side by side, so they were later changed to that arrangement and Wally’s desk was over at the window facing out towards the bedroom door (and the one camera used for filming the series) so that Wally’s back wouldn’t be to the camera. It’s rather hard to believe what they accomplished with one camera.
Tony Dow has special feelings for Joe Connelly and did a tribute video to Joe who is the first-listed writer and producer in the credits. (Connelly/Mosher).
Interestingly, Leave it to Beaver didn’t have the best ratings in its first season and it was cancelled. But the ABC network picked it up for its second season and it ran for five more seasons after that for a combined run of 6 seasons.
June and Ward often disagreed.
But I thought they were the perfect couple? That’s what we’ve been led to believe by the television version.
Often June and Ward didn’t agree on how to best approach/reprimand for The Beaver. From what I’ve read, June often went to the producers and questioned the punishment indicated in the script for Beaver or Wally. She had two boys at home and she felt the reprimand was too extreme and she accused production of trying to create drama. Well, they did need to have a television show and to get people to watch it so some drama was needed. Barbara told Connelly/Mosher that she wouldn’t do that — the reprimand indicated in the script — to her boys at home as she would feel it too harsh a punishment for what they had done, so I got the impression that Connelly/Mosher sometimes (how often?) adjusted the script/toned the script down after talking with Barbara B. Did Connelly/Mosher say to themselves when she left their office once again: You don’t mess with June?
“He’s just a little boy.”—June often said this to Ward as she urged him not to be too harsh with The Beaver. I appreciated it when she said that because I was thinking the same thing.
“Beaver, you know I would never hit you.”—Ward Cleaver (Season 3)
Wally is 5 years older than Beaver. Throughout the series, sometimes Ward and June compromised, but June was no wash-over either. There are several mentions of corporal punishment made throughout the 6 seasons, but in the Cleaver household it’s only spoken about as a form of punishment from the past, and no longer used. I can see June being responsible for that change in the Cleaver household. A reference to corporal punishment was made early in Season 5. Beaver made references to a dad being a “hitting father.” Ward told Beaver in one episode in Season 3, “Beaver, you know I would never hit you.” Good for you, Ward! Thanks to Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher for putting that in the script. That’s one of many examples of this show being ahead of its time. Corporal punishment was still being used in the Larry Mondello household according to what Larry M. said on occasion.
People’s many misconceptions about LITB.
I had many misconceptions about the show before watching it. As I’ve said, people — especially conservatives — give all kinds of inaccurate labels to this show, most of which are creations of their own mind. I don’t consider the show “wholesome” for example. Nor do I consider it “clean.” They are the words used by prudes. In some ways, it was no different than my household growing up and we were never called “wholesome” or “clean.” We were just an average family household.
The scripts for LITB were based on the lives of the kids of Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, the two writers, who also wrote some of the scripts for Amos ‘n Andy. Occasionally, other true stories would come from other people and they are always listed in the show’s credits (such as “Story by and Adapted” by Connelly/Mosher) for LITB and Connelly/Mosher made them into a script for the show, but nothing was made up. As Tony Dow said, it was all real and the situations presented in the show had happened to someone’s kids.
One can learn a lot about kids from watching LITB.
I learned a lot about children/kids from watching LITB, and even though it’s too late for me to be a parent, I wouldn’t mind being a parent these days if I could start with the kid at about age 3 (think: cute little Benji Belamy, one of my favourites) or the Beaver when he was 6 years of age. But the kids on Beaver seem to be exceptionally bright and very good, talented actors. The casting for LITB was perfect. Then there was little Rory Stevens. He was the brother of Rusty Stevens who played Larry Mondello. Interesting that the producers took Rusty out of the cast because of his overbearing mother nagging the producers (according to Barbara B), and instead started using his brother, Rory, on occasion who played Chucky. The other story about Rusty Stevens is that is family was moving to New Jersey with his father’s new job move, so Rusy had to leave the cast. If that were true, why did the producers later put Rory Stevens in the cast well after the family would have moved to New Jersey. I would think that Barbara B’s story is the valid one since she was there on the set each day.
Beaver, the animal rights activist. What did the conservatives think of that, or did that go over their heads? It would certainly go over the head of a child.
One of the episodes Chucky was in was the animal right’s episode about the frogs at Miller’s Pond. That episode was way ahead of its time in an animal rights sense. Throughout the series, Beaver was quite the animal rights activist, and Chucky was probably only about 4 years of age at the time but he did a perfect job playing that role. I wonder how much Connelly/Mosher had to work with Rory Stevens (Chucky) to get Chucky’s scenes as perfect as they were?
Conservatives and the right-wing usually despise animal rights activists.
So it’s interesting that they gush over this show, or were they so dense to not pick up on the animal rights’ episodes? I suspect.
The television version is cut. To sanitise it even more?
But it’s most unfortunate how much of the show was/is cut out of the version we saw on the network currently showing LITB, either to sanitise the already G-rated programme even more and or for them to run endless Medicare commercials. But with the full version we continue to watch, we keep saying to ourselves whilst watching it, “We didn’t see this on television. This was cut out too.” But I suspect the network currently showing Beaver would deny they’re cutting a thing — “No, we would dream of cutting a thing” — from it or overriding part of the original production with (Medicare) commercials. The latest example of that was Season 4 and the episode, “Beaver’s Freckles.”
As I said earlier, even though we watched all of the episodes on the network currently having the rights to show LITB, it’s stunning how much they cut out for ad space and also to apparently not show Ward and June arguing or disagreements. Why didn’t they want us to see that? Because it wasn’t “pure and wholesome” (roll eyes) and didn’t show the Cleavers as “the perfect family?” By the way, I can’t stand the conservative word “wholesome.”
Take the 2nd episode of Season 3, “Beaver won’t eat.” We remember this episode and how it was shown. The network cut out the parts where Ward and June were disagreeing over how to deal with Beaver not eating a certain vegetable. This episode was particularly realistic and the original — not the television’s sanitised version — showed June and Ward arguing with each other. It was one of the first time June was seen been extremely assertive with Ward. The television network couldn’t handle that? June wasn’t saying about Beaver, “He’s just a little boy,” as she often did other times. The network didn’t want viewers seeing the Cleavers quarreling (which is what they were doing), so they felt the need to sanitise an already G-rated programme? In that episode, I remember where the television network picked up and what was cut out. It’s as if someone said, “Run Medicare commercials over that part where Ward and June are arguing. We don’t want viewers to see that. Viewers will get the impression that Ward and June were not the perfect married couple, and we want to present a false illusion that they were.”
A bit of a contradiction in LITB: Animal rights and eating dead animals.
An animal has lost its rights when you’re eating it, yet Beaver was an animal rights activist. How’s that for your “morals” conservatives that you love to go on about this show? How’s that for your “Family Values?” (roll eyes) Of course the Cleavers and most families of that era and generation ate dead animals called “meat” and Beaver couldn’t control what foods June (or rather the studio’s Universal Commissary) prepared for her family to eat — and on occasion the boys were required to “clean your plates” especially when it came to brussel sprouts (which Beaver hated) — so the animal rights activist, Beaver, was really required to eat dead animals which people sanitise and call “meat.”
A one-camera production.
From a production standpoint, LITB was also ahead of their time in their changing of the credits for each episode, something other shows at that time did not do. How many people know that? I suspect none of those who gush, “I loved this show as a child.” “I Love Lucy” did not change the credits each show. And doing so must have been a bitch for Connelly/Mosher, but they accomplished that. For example, when the famous Eddie Haskel was in an episode, under “Cast” in the credits, he was the first name listed as Ken Osmond. (He died in 2020.) When he wasn’t in an episode, his name was not in the credits. I read that Eddie had only been planned to do one episode. Obviously, the producers changed their mind on that since Eddie Haskel appeared throughout the series. “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Ms Cleaver. Is Wallace and young Theodore upstairs?” Also, beginning in Season 5, the order of the credits changed. The first set (of 2 sets of credits) appeared after the beginning of the show ran for a scene. Then the theme music began and the first set of credits ran. Then we went back to the show. This was not the format for Seasons 1-4. BTW, Jerry Mathers said that Ken Osmond was the best actor on the show because on the show Ken was the opposite of the person he was in real life. He was the nicest guy in real life.
Would a child’s mind understand why Eddie called Wally “Sam” much of the time? No. A child’s mind would ask, Why is he calling Wally, Sam, mommy? His name is Wally, not Sam.
The least and most popular episodes.
Did you know that the least popular episode of the series was the one about the boys getting a burro as a pet, whereas the most popular episode was the billboard episode, which, according to Beaver was a very complicated episode to produce.
The highest-rated episode featuring the Cleaver family is Leave It to Beaver Season 4 Episode 32: “In the Soup.” Originally airing on May 6, 1961, the episode followed Beaver as he got stuck in a three-dimensional billboard ad. Because of the cost required to make the billboard, it became the most expensive episode of Leave It to Beaver.
“In fact, because it was so expensive, for the next probably three or four episodes we could only use the ensemble cast because it was budgeted at, I believe $58,000, which was an incredible amount of money for a show at that time,” Mathers told TODAY in 2017. “They not only had to build a billboard outside but a billboard inside, a full-size billboard inside to do close-ups on.”
The most-hated episode of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ is from Season 5
According to IMDb, the most hated episode of the series is Leave It to Beaver Season 5 Episode 3: “Three Boys and a Burro.” It averages 6.4 stars out of 10. What happened in this particular episode? Beaver convinced his parents to let him get a burro, aka a donkey, with two of his friends. The only catch? That Pepe won’t stay in the yard and risk ruining their perfectly manicured lawn. [Source for both]
Whilst writing this, Tony Dow was in hospital with pneumonia, which I learned from using a search engine and not from watching any video. The comments under the click-bait title of the video about Tony being ill — which I did not watch — caused me to roll my eyes. It was as if some fundamentalist christian church had asked all of their brainwashed Christian cultists to get on this video and write prayers for Tony. Such as, “Praying now for Tony” and “Oh Lord, please take your Almighty Arm and cleanse the body in and out of your son Tony….” Sigh. Embarrassing stuff. To begin with, Tony is not god’s son. Jesus is. Remember? As in The Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Tony is not part of The Holy Trinity. But then many fundamentalist christians have never been that clear on the specifics of what they claim to believe, unlike Anglicans who learn in Confirmation Class why certain things are done in the Liturgies. As is typical with (fake) christians, it never occurred to these idiots that they were praying to the same god who could have prevented Tony from becoming ill in the first place but “he” chose not to keep Tony well, since we are told that the christian god is “all-powerful” and “all-knowing.” Being “all-powerful” the christian god could have prevented Tony’s illness.
LITB taught Family Values? Rubbish, but that’s what the conservatives like to spout.
It should be pointed out that the “family values” of that era were about being a “hitting father” — as Beaver referenced in the script — an adult beating children with a belt or slapping children as a form of corporal/violent punishment. The Cleavers did not do that. They were above that depraved violent behaviour. And any parent that has to resort to corporal punishment or beating an innocent child, shouldn’t be a parent, in part, because they are bereft of mature and intelligent parenting and social skills. It takes no intelligence whatsoever for some fool to beat a child or to be violent with another adult. Any fool can be violent towards another person. Any fool can beat a child. That is a person lacking in social skills and in sound, high-quality parenting skills. Beating a child is the lowest of lows. I can’t imagine any adult striking an innocent little boy or girl nor matter what they’ve done that you disapprove of. Violence accomplishes nothing and it leaves a lasting scar on the child and makes him or her afraid/terrified of the adult. I know of what I speak having gotten “the belt” a few times myself. All it did was to make me afraid of my dad until I got to puberty where I started standing up to him and he seemed to admire that in me in my teenage years. My mom rarely hit me. Pick on someone your own size, idiots!
Beating a child and violence against an innocent child is reprehensible.
The Cleavers had communications skills and when one has communication skills and the mature ability to talk intelligently with a child at the child’s level of maturity, there’s no need or reason to use violence toward a little child. Such actions are reprehensible and shows a parent who is lacking in genuine parenting skills. I’m not talking about love here. I’m talking about parenting skills. Love and parenting skills are two different things, although I don’t expect some people to understand that, especially conservatives.
In fact in one episode of Season 3, Ward said to Beaver, “Beaver, you know I would never hit you.” I didn’t know that the christian fundamentalists watched LITB. It must have annoyed them that there are limited references to their Floating Cloud Being in Beaver. Hugh Beaumont was a member of the clergy of the Methodist Church, but that wasn’t part of the script. Also no where in the Connelly/Mosher script of LITB was the words “family values” or “morals.” The show taught adults the best decisions to make in various circumstances and taught that to their kids. I think of “morals” as connected with organised religion, and the script of Beaver, the decisions made were not based in religion.
From online, “moral values come from religions, transmitted through sacred texts and religious authorities, and that even the values of non-religious people have been absorbed from the religious history around them. … The origins of morality lie inside human beings. “
That was not what LITB was about. Instead, again, decisions were based on what was best for being a good person and treating others as you would like to be treated. Period. So again, all of this bunk about “family values” and “morals” that some people go on about with this show is rubbish. I can’t stand fake Christians who wrap themselves in the bible and ignorance and use words such as “morals” and “family values” and other nonsense.
After dealing with the aspects of the show, then there’s the audience. And I realised that the audience for LITB consists of brainwashed fake-christians who see everything in the world in the context of “morals” and “family values.” As I said earlier, none of which was part of LITB.
There were many examples of word play in LITB. Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher were two very prolific and superb writers. As I said earlier, they produced and wrote the scripts for Leave It To Beaver and before that, Amos ‘n Andy. Their word-play, their use of mispronounced words, was part of both shows. We see some of one in the other. Such as Beaver saying “view” for “interview” and Wally corrects him, “It’s INTERview.” Then Beaver says “interview.”
Behind the scenes.
Whilst the conservatives were going on about how this show is so “wholesome,” “pure” “innocent” and other nonsense, Barbara B. was “cursing” on the set according to what Tony Dow said. I guess she would get her lines fucked up and say something such as, “I fucked that up again. Let’s do another take.” I don’t know exactly what Barbara said and I wouldn’t have any problem with her language on the set, but it does shatter that delusional image that the conservatives like to dream up about “conservative and prudish” Barbara and this show. I guess some of the conservatives would say, “You mean to tell me that she cursed in front of the kids?” (roll eyes). Note to conservatives: Get a fucking clue. You conservatives need to get out more. Kids are not these little innocent beings that you like to believe they are. They could probably teach you something about “cursing” and sex language. Come out of your fucking denial. How’s that for “cursing,” plebs?
Hugh Beaumont, Director.
Also, when Hugh Beaumont served as Director of the show, he made the show more like a movie. He was one of the best directors they had. Hugh started directing some episodes towards the end of Season 3. We especially enjoyed the corsage episode which was the first episode that Ms Rayburn (Doris Packer) appeared in as Beaver’s school principal. Ms Rayburn was one of our favourites. That was near the end of Season 3. Ms Rayburn was also a substitute teacher when Beaver’s teacher, Ms Landers (Sue Randall), was out. Both Doris and Sue played their roles perfectly. But didn’t they all? The casting was perfect, something a child’s mind would not have noticed or thought about.
June’s birthday was a favourite episode where Beaver began his “rat, rat, rat” thing, which initially caused Wally to smile broadly the first time Beaver said it. It’s hard to say which episodes are the favourites because all the episodes were good in their own way.
June would often be alarmist and Ward would dismiss her concerns by telling her, “It’s just what boys do, dear.” That’s true, Ward. As a boy, I know. The episode “Wally and Alma” was very interesting and I think that was skipped over — too much controversy between June and Ward? — by the network currently showing LITB.
June sang for us. The television version cut that out too.
BTW, did you know that June sang, “I’ll never smile again” — it’s a song written in the 1940s by Ruth Lowe and sung by many well-known artists of that time — in the episode “Pet Fair” in Season 3? June did sing and she had a very nice voice without noticeable vibrato. But we don’t remember seeing that part in the television version. And it was so nicely done. So they cut that out too. It was the first time June sang because even Wally made a comment about it and how girls/mother’s don’t sing. Then June said that Diana Shore is a girl and a mother and she sings.
“Parents are no good.”
The same episode where June sang for us began with Wally saying, “Parents are no good.” Did you love that part, too, conservatives? How’s that for your “wholesome” “morals” and “family values” claims about this show? The television network cut that out as well. They didn’t want you to see that either. Can we get any more conservative? Or any more G-rated? Can we get any lower where they feel they have to sanitise an already G-rated programme as tame as LITB?
One of my favourite episodes is the Barbershop episode. To my knowledge, there’s where Floyd the Barber of the Andy Griffith Show first made his television debut as a barber in LITB. His name was not Floyd in LITB.
The pilot: “It’s a Small World.”
Then there’s poor Paul Sullivan. He was an excellent Wally Cleaver in the pilot for Let It To Beaver titled “It’s a Small World.” But several months passed between the time of the pilot and the first episode of LITB and because Paul went through a growth spurt during that time, and consequently, he lost the role of Wally Cleaver — nature can be mean — and was replaced by the excellent Tony Dow. As far as I’m concerned, Paul and Tony were child prodigies. They were such naturals at acting. And of course the same about Jerry Mathers. That boy, at age 7, was as skilled at acting as any adult, if not better.
You really have to watch the six seasons more than once to understand all of it and the script nuances completely.
For example, I have very special feelings for Benji Belamy, the little boy across the street from Beaver’s house. Well, in the teddy bear episode, at the end Beaver said he was going to give his teddy bear to Benji who also has the measles. That was superb scripting. That gave me a very good feeling inside when I heard that because I like Benji, even though we don’t get to see much of him. He was in about 3 episodes as I recall. He was a remarkable actor — another child prodigy — for his very young age. He was probably about 3 years old when he made his first appearance on LITB.
They could have called it Leave It To Rick and Jay, since the true experiences and stories were about Joe Connelly’s sons Rick (Beaver) and Jay (Wally). Beaver mirrored the stories of Rick, and Wally was supposed to be Jay.
A Child Prodigy
A child prodigy is defined in psychology research literature as a person under the age of ten who produces meaningful output in some domain to the level of an adult expert.
Well, Jerry Mathers (Beaver) and Tony Dow (Wally) certainly did that, as did some of the other kids on the show. And Jerry had quite an impressive background of acting experience at his young age before his role in LITB. I learned recently that he was in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry. I also saw Gilbert (Stephen Talbot) listed recently in the credits for The Twilight Zone.
To me, both Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers were child prodigies in the acting field. The casting for the show — by Connelly/Mosher (the creators of LITB)? — was perfect. There wasn’t a bad actor on the show. From what I’ve read, they had multiple people interviewing kids for the show, but Connelly/Mosher — the creators and producers of LITB — ultimately decided what roles would go to whom. No casting director, per se, is ever listed in the credits.
In the Conservatory, some of the students mentioned the classical music genre where there have been many child prodigies, such as Marta Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Samuel Barber are three who come to mind.
The Conservatory’s Theatre and Drama Department was planning — at some point — to do a lecture series or two on the topic of Child Prodigies, both musicians and actors.
The music for LITB:
The music was also well done from a composition point of view. I especially liked the very slow version of the original theme music. That version was used for the more serious moments in the show, such as when June was talking with the Beaver about life experiences and the best thing to do and the best judgments to make in those situations, and why people try to spare other people’s feelings to not hurt them, for example. That’s something that a relative of mine in her 60s has yet to learn. For example, if you don’t give her the gift that she thinks she deserves, she’ll let you know in a rather abrasive manner, rather than being gracious and appreciative by saying, “How nice of you. Thank you very much.” No, she hasn’t learned, “It’s nice to be nice” that was the theme throughout LITB.
More about the music: Each season had a different rendition/variation of the original theme music, although I think the theme music for Seasons 4 and 5 was the same, but each season had a different opening/beginning. Season 5 began with June bringing out a pitcher of a cold drink for Ward, Wally and Beaver to take a break from their yard work (mowing). Season 6’s theme music was in a jazz style. For the reflective/serious moments in the show where Ward was “teaching Beaver” some sort of “life instruction,” the producers used a very slow “mood piece” style version of the original theme music. It worked beautifully.
Wally made several references to learning español during Leave It To Beaver (LITB) but we never got to hear him speak the language. There was one episode where Beaver had a new Latino friend and there was some español in that episode. That episode dealt with topic of divorce and how divorce has a major bearing on kids. It was extremely well done, like all the rest of LITB. Oddly, the Latino boy (el chico) was only in that one episode. Maybe his parents didn’t want him on television or thought it would interfere with his education. As I recall, Tony Dow said that he went to school 4 hours a day during his acting on the show.
LITB: One of the most expensive shows to produce of that time
Leave It To Beaver was not a low-budget production. Quite the contrary. I read it was one of the most expensive shows to produce.
Unfortunately, LITB has a certain undeserved reputation in my opinion, mainly I think, from people who have never watched it. Wally (Tony Dow) said something about “…if you admit to watching it,” as if many people would be ashamed to say they watch or have ever watched the show. It’s because of that undeserved reputation, I suppose you could say of a certain era and generation and time. I’m not at all ashamed to say that I’ve watched all 6 seasons and every show at least three times and enjoyed it as much as I did/do I Love Lucy, although the two are nothing alike.
Someone is likely saying about now, “I can’t believe you’re writing about that corny show.” There was nothing “corny” about LITB. I suggest one watch all 6 seasons and 39 episodes per season and then get back to me and then tell me you still think it was “corny.”
Mi amigo/My friend and I started watching Beaver, well, by accident really. It came on television one morning and something in me told me to watch that episode. I thought: I know I Love Lucy extremely well and would like to know Beaver as well. After watching the programme I made a mental note to watch the show the next morning, and the next morning and the next morning. It was not at all what I had expected from the images about the show that I had conjured over the years. As I said earlier, the writing style is similar (sort of) to that of Amos n Andy (also one of my favourite shows on television). Yeah I know what’s been said about Amos n Andy but I don’t agree with it. I don’t see it putting Black people down any more than Mayberry or The Beverly Hillbillies and other shows put down white people. It’s just that Amos was first and had to suffer the consequences. If Amos had come after the other shows I’ve mentioned, I suspect the reception would have been different. One thing that is noticeable in Amos and Beaver is the convoluted use of certain English words on occasion. In Amos it had to do in some cases with a lack of education. Well, there was no shortage of a lack of education in the Beverly Hillbillies but I’m not aware that anyone whinged about that, such as their reference to the “Cement pond.” The young Beaver messed up words on occasions. Sometimes he was corrected by Wally or his parents, other times they let it go.
Having started watching Beaver with Season 5, I had thought that Gilbert replaced Larry M. as Beaver’s “best friend.” But that’s not true after watching all seasons. Larry was Beaver’s best friend until Larry was written out of the series. Then Rick Rickover became Beaver’s best friend, but then he too disappeared for some reason and then Gilbert was Beaver’s best friend towards the end of the final season. Many boys came and went throughout the seasons. Some only had brief appearances in one show or a couple. Whitey Whitney remained throughout the series. Wally’s friends — the legendary Eddie “Sam” Haskell and Lumpy Rutherford — stayed throughout. I would imagine that the boy’s parents had something to do with them disappearing and their demands of production, although I don’t know for sure. Ward once asked June about Whitey, “Why does that boy always sound like he’s shouting when the talks?”
Ms Rayburn and Ms Landers
Our favourite, Ms Rayburn, a delightful person, had more appearances in Season 6. She was Beaver’s teacher in addition to being the school principal. And Ms Landers disappeared at some point after Beaver advanced through his grades at Grant Avenue Grammar School.
They did a homeless episode where Beaver helped a homeless guy. Unlike today, where one would likely expect there to be hate involved, there was no hate for the homeless guy. He was treated rather with respect by all. The script did use the language of the day such as “bum” (Gilbert used that word) and “tramp” — the common language of that day — but the message was about helping others and consideration for others, which Ward was trying to instill in the Beaver.
The clothes used on the show
In an interview, Barbara said that she thought all of the clothes for the show came from JC Penny. There for awhile — I think it was Season 3 — the credits said that Barbara’s dresses (and hats) were courtesy of DeeDee Johnson, which was a rather high-end and popular clothing line at that time. The credits also said that the boys’ clothes came from A1 Manufacturing Company. How many of you who claim to have “loved this show as a child” paid any attention to the credits if you even knew what they were?! I did notice that they were wisely frugal with their money when it came to clothes. Production (or the boy’s parents) made sure that the boys could wear their jeans as they grew — and not have to keep buying new jeans because of a “perfect” length — because I noticed long, rolled up cuffs on some of the boys’ jeans. And I think that’s what any parent would do to save money and get the most wear of new jeans for their son.
The make-up guy and hair stylist for Revue Studios, the production company
Jack Barron was the make-up guy for LITB and many other shows of that era produced by Revue Studios. He was one of Hollywood’s many famous make-up artists. And Florence Bush was similarly the legendary hair stylist. She worked almost exclusively as the hair stylist for television shows.
Ward’s and June’s Non-violent parenting skills
This cannot be overstated. We would have a better world today if most people used June and Ward’s non-violent and communicative parenting skills. Parenting skills are not taught in school to my knowledge so most people merely pass down their dysfunctional and sometimes abusive parenting skills they learned from their parents or relatives. Also, some people confuse love with parenting skills. I’m not talking about love here but rather the skills needed to be a good parent which are hopefully based in love. But the skills are separate from one’s love for their child. Take the family that lives across the street from me, I’ve never seen either of them strike their children. Instead, they used parenting skills. I did hear their mother often say “Time Out” when they were little. Today, they’re both seemingly well-behaved teenagers. Good parents don’t resort to using violence (corporal punishment) to reprimand a child.
Corporal punishment is a pathetic cop-out and used by those parents who don’t possess the necessary parenting skills and communication skills to deal with their kid. I can’t stand to see a big overbearing adult beating on a small little helpless kid. Anyone who has to beat up on a child should not be a parent. They are a failure as a parent. Period. Violent/corporal punishment teaches a child to fear the parent who beats up on him. I know from experience from my own childhood. I came to fear my dad from the 2-3 times he used corporal punishment on me, and I don’t remember the reason he did so, so despite the violence the reason didn’t stick with me.
Too many parents make their kids a slave to their own dreams.
Some parents expect brothers to excel at the same thing when in reality one brother may be excellent at something and the other brother has no interest or skills for that. My brother was not all that hot at piano, yet I majored in piano at the Conservatory where I trained. He didn’t have the same talent level as myself for music, so instead he excelled in another field.
Why did the show end?
From what I’ve read, Beaver (Jerry Mathers) was tired of acting and wanted to be a “normal boy” and he was going into high school and didn’t want to do LITB anymore. For the story line in the show, Wally was about to go to State (University) so he was leaving to go away to school and The Beaver was going into high school, so the brothers would become separated. Wally (Tony Dow) also said that they had pretty much done everything that they could do with the show in its 6 seasons. So it was time to end it.
I bet it was a sad time when the show ended, after spending six seasons together and working with each other and all the kids on the show.
Although after watching the last show, it was as if the producers didn’t really know how to end it. I enjoyed that last show but mi amigo thought they could have done more with it at the end. “Last shows” can be awkward, weird or hard to do.
The Perry Mason reference in one episode
They also did a show about clothes for the needy which was very interesting. That was well-done and we got to see Ms Rayburn in that episode. June took on the role of attorney — at the dinner table — in that episode and Wally made a reference to June sounding like Perry Mason. Ward lost his case to Attorney June.
The boys danced together.
On two occasions, we got to see two boys dancing together — which we enjoyed seeing — and that’s when Beaver and Larry danced together to learn a dance for a dance party they were required to go do. Then Beaver and Wally danced together on another occasion to practise for another dance occasion. Wally said to Beaver, “Just don’t breathe on me.” But neither had any trouble dancing with another boy which was good to see and showed how secure they were with themselves at that young age, or at least per the script and the maturity of the writers. There were a couple of references to “I don’t want to look like a sissy” (not an exact quote) but that language was typical of that era, and is still used today by some.
Then there was the phone call made from the Cleaver’s living room in one episode:
“This is Gilbert, Alan and Beaver” [pause] No, it’s not a lawfirm.”—Gilbert talking with Don Drysdale on the phone. (Season 5)
They drank a lot of bottled milk on LITB, mainly The Beaver and Wally, but occasionally Ward had a glass. Even though June was seen preparing the food in the house, (behind the scenes): I think it all came from the Universal Studios Commissary. Pancakes, fried eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast.
The image I originally had of LITB was wrong.
The image I had in mind before watching the show was that it was very conservative show, and that June was a prude. I think I got that image because of what’s usually said about the show by the conservatives with their twisted perspective of the show. One wonders if they’ve actually ever watched the show with the volume up?
In some ways, the show was years ahead of its time on some topics. Such as animal rights and the topic of openly discussing divorce and its affect on kids. The views at times are more on the conservative side — usually from June — but I wouldn’t call the show conservative at all. I didn’t feel that it was.
A lot of the stuff that was in LITB was part of the 1960s movement, open-mindedness, like I said they did a homeless show and did not hate on homeless people at all as would be the case today, but instead it was about treating people fairly and equally. LITB was quite ahead of its time. The frog episode was very pro-animal rights.
The late 60s and early 70s was quite a very interesting time although most people who lived through that period didn’t realise it at the time. Unfortunately, some people today frown upon that time in history.
Watch the episodes in consecutive order, as they were produced.
Some people say that LITB can be watched out of order or out of sequences. You can, but I don’t recommend it. In the episode I watched this morning, it made reference to when the boys bought a burro which was making reference to a fairly recent episode. And if one watched the show out of sequence one wouldn’t know about that episode. Another reason why I don’t recommend watching it out of sequence is because the network currently showing LITB, when it came to Halloween they showed the episode of Beaver that was the closest in theme to Halloween. That episode was from one of the latter seasons where Beaver was older and his voice had changed. Then, they returned to their regularly-scheduled episode from Beaver which was from an earlier season where Beaver was much younger and his voice had not changed. Both myself and mi amigo/my friend said: Whoa. There was a noticeable clash in personalities. Because it’s odd watching a teenage Beaver back-to-back with a early childhood Beaver. It didn’t work. So that’s why we say to watch them in sequences, as they were made to be seen. Also, as I said earlier, there are occasional references made to earlier episodes, and if you’ve not seen those you won’t know what they’re talking about.
The LITB studio (Revue Studio) worked with the Desilu Studio (“I Love Lucy”), which I find interesting. Desilu produced quite a few different shows, including My Three Sons. Wally (Tony Dow) — made an appearance on My Three Sons (wearing glasses) the year after Beaver ended.
Also, Revue Studio did something that even Desilu didn’t do. The LITB final credits changed with each episode — I would think that would be extremely difficult to do in those days — to list the children and adult actors who were featured in that show. So it would list “Ken Osmond (Eddie), Sue Randall (Ms Landes) and others. Whereas Desilu did not change the final credits with each episode. They had a static final credits and an announcer would come on and announce guests. For example, an announcer came on at the end of I Love Lucy and he said, “Hedda Hopper played herself,” when she made an appearance on the show.
Mi amigo/My friend kept saying, “My parents must have watched Beaver because my childhood was just like this show.”
Mine wasn’t. His childhood/household was much more formal and corporate than mine, especially at the dinner table and all that formality. My childhood was quite the opposite of the show. For example, we were not regimented at the breakfast or dinner tables. Wally didn’t seem to go along with that either based on one of his lines in Season 4 about “Can’t we just stand over the sink and eat, and eat at the table when we have company?” Wally was my type of guy and in that sense Beaver was just like him.
I had some negative images in my mind of the show before I watched all 6 seasons. After seeing the entire series, I now say it’s one of the finest shows ever on television. I put it in the same category as time-honoured I Love Lucy, even though it’s nothing like Lucy, but it’s that well done. And if not mistaken, I Love Lucy’s production crew used multiple cameras, not just one camera like LITB. The show is not at all what I thought the show was about and the images I had of Ward and June Cleaver were not accurate.
Was June a feminist?
June was a feminist in her own way. She was always busy doing something in the Cleaver home. Only once did the camera show her resting on the couch one day and Wally asked her “What are you doing, mom?” She said, “I’m resting.” She was either working somewhere in the house, often the kitchen and parenting Wally and The Beaver. In her personal life, Barbara Billingsley was rearing two boys of her own (Drew and Glenn) at the same time, and I think there was some carry-over of her parenting style in the script. She said the show and her personal life overlapped or really were not separated. She and Ward often disagreed on what approach to take with The Beaver and Wally, but in the end things worked out whether June or Ward relented or a compromise was decided upon.
Again, as an adult before seeing the original episodes, I had a misconception of what the show was about and the cast. I had this image in my mind that June Cleaver was this prudish, submissive, conservative mother and “house wife.” That’s not who June was at all. After seeing most of the seasons so far (before watching the complete series multiple times), I’ve learned that you don’t mess with June Cleaver. You don’t fuck with June Cleaver. When you hear the word, “Ward!!!” come out of her mouth with a certain tone, you know that all hell is about to break loose.
“The one who rocks the cradle, rules the world.”—-June Cleaver
That’s a rather feminist statement right there. June was a feminist of sorts for her day. She was quite outspoken, although Ward would often overrule her, but not always. She was one of the best mothers to Wally and Beaver that they could have had. She was conservative in her thinking at times, but she was not at all the person I imagined her to be. Neither was Ward the person I imagined him to be. She often took very seriously things that Ward flipped off with the boys, such as the boys staying alone at the house whilst they were out with the Rutherfords or someone else. Or a fist fight upstairs between the boys. Ward would sit back and listen while June would be having a fit. (By the way, Fred Rutherford later appeared on the Dick Van Dkye Show). June was very nervous about The Beaver and Wally going up to Friend’s Lake. Ward thought nothing of it. He flipped many things off as, “that’s what boys do.”
Corporal Punishment: Cruel and Outdated
As I see it, corporal punishment is used as a cop-out, an easy-way out by incompetent parents who don’t possess the necessary parenting skills — communication skills to discuss what to do and others skills — to reprimand their kids. This is, in part, why I say that some people should not be parents because they simply don’t possess the skills, knowledge or intelligence and often pass along bad generational parenting “techniques” to their children. I know of what I speak. As a child, I came to fear my dad because of “getting the belt” a few times. Not often, but it did happen. So it wasn’t until my teenage years that I started standing up to him and no longer fearing some form of violent retribution and that worked. He stopped when he saw me standing up to him, and also when he saw me criticising him for mocking people in our family.
I also think that much of who Tony Dow was as a person was written into the script. Since before the show he was an athlete and also his other interests and his informal, down-to-Earth views, which I related to. He’s the same guy today. Very laid back and informal.
LITB was ahead of its time in some ways. They did a show on divorce and how that affects kids, which was taboo at that time. That was a really good episode. How much flake did they get for that? They also did a show about a Queer boy — without saying he was Queer — who wasn’t good at sports and had no interest in girls. But when they were in a real jam, he sat down at the piano and amazed the other kids with his jazz-style playing. He was described as “different” which was common at that time, and is still used by some people who can’t bear to say the words Queer or gay.
The set (their second house specifically)
Occasionally, even though the house didn’t change — well to be clear the Cleaver’s lived in two different houses over the six seasons — something major would change on the set for some reason, such as the driveway, the garage changed on occasion, or a window in Beaver’s room. I think the set changed per how they had to do things. The set was flexible to the story line, and I suspect most people don’t notice, which is probably what the producers thought as well. Interestingly, the move to the second house was written into the script although viewers didn’t see the move. It just happened. One season they were in the old house and the next season they were in the new house, with references made to the new house on occasion per the story line. Considering the one-camera used and the lighting of that era and it being black and white, it’s amazing the high-quality they produced for the show with such equipment. We don’t notice that it’s in black and white either. With one exception to that. When I’m wanting to see the colours in the boys’ plaid shirts that they wore or June’s dresses I do notice the black and white aspect.
June and Ward told Eddie to Fuck Off?
Essentially that’s what they said, without coming right out and telling Eddie to fuck off, since they couldn’t say that on television. They later apologised to Eddie, then Eddie covertly insulted them and they asked themselves after Eddie left the kitchen, “Were we just insulted by that boy?”
How’s that for your “wholesome, pure, morals and family values” bunk, conservatives? I swear, did any of you even or ever watch this show? Or you only heard what you wanted to hear?
Larry Mondello’s disappearance.
It’s odd that the producers didn’t properly write Larry Mondello out of the series. He just disappeared. Just like snooty Judy, Beaver’s classmate. She just disappeared too. Richard (son of Joe Connelly who, I think, played Amos in the radio version of Amos & Andy) and Gilbert appeared. There were two references to Larry being sick in the episodes where Richard appeared. There must have been quite some issue with Larry. (His mother?…according to Barbara B). Judy was written out because she had entered puberty.
As for Larry, they could have written him out by having Ms Landers or Ms Rayburn announce to the class that one of their fellow students, Larry, was leaving and moving so that was his last day at school, and they could have given him a farewell party. They could have done something like that and it would have given closure to Larry’s role in the show. I missed Larry when he left. But, I don’t know, maybe the producers felt he didn’t deserve any send off out of their resentment for his mother. Larry just disappeared, other than the two references to him being sick later. In other shows where a cast member is written out there’s usually some mention of where they went in the story line, such as Aunt Fran of Mama’s Family suddenly died (in real life she went to The Golden Girls) and Bub of My Three Sons (in real life was having health problems and left the show) but the story line was that he went to Ireland. There must have been quite a fight between the producers and Ms Stevens (Larry’s real name is Rusty Stevens) and the producers they didn’t want to give her or her son any more of their time, so out you go! So Barbara B. said what I’ve written here, but I also read that Rusty’s father had to move to New Jersey (I think it was) for his job and the show was filmed in Burbank, so Larry had to give up his role on the show. That too may have been true, but I’d give more weight to what Barbara B. said since she was there on the set and would know. I also read that Barbara frequently went to the producers complaining about the script and the — what she considered as a mother of two boys in her own life — harsh punishment for the Beaver and or Wally. She thought whatever they had done didn’t merit the punishment written into the script by production. “Barbara was always going to the producers complaining about the script” is what I read.
Spoiler Alerts of sorts: It was odd that Ward was barely in the last episode of Season 4, or at least we found that odd. Strange they would end the season like that. And I’m not sure when the producers knew that there would be another season. So was Season 4 ended like that without them knowing about a Season 5? As I recall from reading, Jerry said that during the Summer the principle cast — the four of them — had to fly to New York and Chicago to discuss the details (maybe advertising? and other details) for the next season. So I’m not sure when they knew there would be a next season. These days, I think that’s decided with rather late notice. I remember when NBC Universal’s Starting Over ended. Anyone remember that “psychology” show? Iyanla Vanzant (one of the life coaches) referred to “next season” when she was talking with one of the women in the house at the final graduation, so Iyanla thought there would be a next season. As it turned out, there was no next season and from what Rhonda (the other life coach) said on her blog, production — Bunim-Murray Productions — never told them the show had been cancelled. That was the end of it. No thank you’s, no goodbye’s. No nothing, apparently.
So what happened to Tooey Brown after Season 3? He disappeared for some reason. We liked Tooey.
I also think that all politicians should be required to watch Leave It To Beaver and then be tested on it. The show might instill a basic sense of ethics into some scum of the Earth career politicians. If most politicians watched LITB they might be very different people. Although that’s asking a lot of scum bags.
They had a variety of directors for LITB but — as mi amigo pointed out — the show remained consistent in its style and format. You wouldn’t know that Norman Toklar or David Butler or Hugh Beaumont were the director on a certain day if you didn’t read the final credits, which I always did. Hugh (Ward) started directing in Season 3. The show never changed regardless of director, or at least not that we noticed. Although he says he can’t pinpoint it but mi amigo said he especially liked when Hugh was director.
Some people (conservatives?) talk about how very “Americana” LITB is. Well, to an extent, but the show has quite a few British influences. Such as Ms Rayburn — even though she wasn’t British — Beaver’s school principal and she was also a teacher. Doris Packer was her real name and she’s from the US but was known for her impeccable English. She had a bit of a Queen’s English accent. In other episodes, brief appearances are made by other actors — such as the salespeople in stores — and they too have a British accent. In one episode, some of the clothing used was British.
“Wholesome” (that word again!) is often used to describe one thing or another about the show, such as the meals that June Cleaver prepared. She served some good food such as salads, mashed potatoes, corn and of course meat. Meat is not good for anyone. But that was a generation where meat was seen as the centerpiece of any meal. It still is with many people. Little has changed in that regard I’m afraid. White bread was on the table. That’s not “wholesome” either but it was a staple at that time. Instead of “wholesome” food I’d say that June prepared fairly-nutritional food for her family. I didn’t see her use anything out of a can although we did see canned goods on the counters and in the kitchen cabinets occasionally, and Beaver and Eddie squished some cans in the vice in the garage.
How much food was really wasted?
Mi amigo/My friend noticed that the Cleaver boys seemed to waste a lot of food and leave it on their plates and June would ask the boys to “take your plates to the kitchen (with food on them).” Well, that was the appearance which is one of the negatives about the show. But I question that any of the food got wasted. Their plates might have their name or initials on them and they may have eaten the food remaining on their plates during their production breaks, or at least I hope that was the case. The reason food would be left on their plates is because it’s hard to eat and speak your lines clearly without food flying all over the place, so most actors are usually very slow to eat anything from the plate in front of them other than a small piece of bread or some clean fruit like a strawberry or a small piece of melon, although they did seem to eat more on LITB whilst saying their lines than they probably do these days. The desserts for dinner were often wasted — or at least that was the appearance — which bothered us because it showed a lack of appreciation for all the effort that went into making the desserts by June, or rather the studio’s Commissary. June didn’t make any of them. I suspect the desserts, too, were eaten off the set, but the appearance was that they wasted a lot of desserts. They had a lot of Chocolate Cake. We saw June supposedly making some of the desserts, mostly cakes. Well, we saw her supposedly frosting cakes mostly. The cake was already frosted when we see it and she’s just finishing it. All the money, time and effort put into making them seem to have gone unappreciated when cake and pie is left on plates. So again, I think that all of the food — including what June was supposedly preparing — really came from the Revue Studios/Universal Studios Commissary, and that June didn’t really prepare any of it. She just served it off the stove or was given a bowl of frosting to look like she was finishing frosting a cake that was really fully frosted in the kitchen at the Studio. Related: The commissary.
Only one out of six seasons? Pretty damn good. So far, I’ve only noticed one screw-up and that is when Tooey didn’t have his thick-looking glasses on playing basketball. In the next screen — a different take — his glasses were on. Production edited that scene with multiple takes and I guess the producers didn’t catch that. No big deal. In Season 3, Tooey’s lenses looked even thicker and probably impossible to see out of in reality.
Overall, they did a splendid job with the show, the script, the selection of the cast and the editing. It’s one of the finest shows I’ve seen on television. I started watching it and immediately got interested. I decided I’d like to watch all the series, just like I had watched all of I Love Lucy. And I’ve been extremely please by LITB’s excellence. I think most people today wouldn’t have the attention span for some of the script (it would bore them), such as all the good information given about alligators, for example, in Season 1. I think that would go over most people’s head, and there are other examples of that.
The Cleavers’ two homes
The Cleavers are in a different house for the first season and June and Ward’s personalities are different — more outspoken — than in the latter seasons. Beaver (played by Jerry Mathers) has said that Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond who died recently) was the best actor on the programme. They were all outstanding actors, but Beaver was the best actor and I think he was a child prodigy. Now, I think the same about Wally. That little guy and Wally were both extremely talented actors. If you took Beaver/Jerry Mathers or Wally out of the show, they wouldn’t have a show. Just like if you took Lucy away from I Love Lucy it wouldn’t be the same.
Hugh Beaumont’s personal tragedy just before taping Season 3
Also, just before Season 3 began, Hugh Beaumont had a personal tragedy in his life. His son was severely injured and his mother-in-law was killed in an auto accident as they were driving to Hollywood from the Midwest of the US as I recall. When they began taping Season 3, Beaver said that Ward was, “just walking through the lines.” That he was there on the set in person but that’s all. I can’t imagine having to act after something like that. June had a similar tragedy before the filming of Season 1 began. Her — I think second — husband died just before filming began. She said that her agent kept her busy and that “you can’t just wallow in grief” and she continued on. From watching her performance in Season 1, I would never have known that any tragedy had just happened in her personal life.
Also interesting that Floyd the Barber appeared in Beaver (Second Season). That was interesting to see. He didn’t start with Andy Griffith as we had thought.
In one episode, after Beaver was tripped by a classmate and fell to the floor, he called the boy who tripped him some descriptor — he probably said, “You fucking asshole” — but we never were told what he said. Ms Landers heard Beaver’s comment in the hallway and sent a note home to Beaver’s parents. That was the episode where Wally stepped in for Ward and went to talk with Ms Landers on Beaver’s behalf. Beaver said he couldn’t even say that to his mother. As I wrote earlier, in reality, behind the scenes, I read that Barbara Billlingsley used “colourful language” on the set, probably when she fucked up her lines or something. So in reality, June wouldn’t have had any trouble with Beaver saying, “You fucking asshole.”
I noticed only a few mistakes in the script for the 6 seasons. One that comes to mind is when Gilbert (near the end of Season 4) said that his father was an engineer, yet when Gilbert was first introduced in the series, his dad told Ward that he was a flautist and travels a lot (in a symphony orchestra?). They were the new neighbour across the street. So I think that Connelly/Mosher forgot what they had said initially the script about Gilbert’s dad.
Then there were the different names used: Eddie often referred to other guys as “Sam.” Lumpy referred to other guys as “Gertrude, Elwood.” Wally referred to Eddie as “Sam” and “Favian.”
Some of the kids in the show came and went. I’m not sure why, such as Tooey disappeared. We liked him. Some kids had brief appearances such as Chucky and Benji Belamy. Because of their age, maybe they were difficult to work with as such young actors, even though they gave superb performances. But how much time did production have to spend with Benji to get that superb performance with him completely remembering his lines?
Jerry Mathers has a website with — I think — lots of behind the scenes information about the show on there. I look forward to reading that. I’ll go there after I watch all six seasons once again.
Interesting images here and here.
Wally/Tony went to school only 3 hours a day when he was on the show. I found that interesting. And the principles of the show — meaning Beaver and Wally — and maybe a few others — were told by production to not watch the show. Understandable. The producers said they didn’t want them seeing themselves as “big shots” or “funny.” In other words, they didn’t want anything to change about the show and the acting, which could happen if they had watched the show. But Tony said that he never had any interest of seeing himself on the screen to begin with. Me either, as a musician. In fact, I avoid cameras, unlike most people who run to cameras hoping they “can get on television and be ‘discovered’.” (roll eyes) I have no interest in that.
From my understanding, the royalties to the actors for the show have long-ago dried up which is a shame, as well as a rip-off. Typical of corrupt capitalism though. The show has never been off the air since it premiered so Beaver, Wally and the others should still be getting money from it….in a just, fair and equatable world. Nobody ever claimed that we live in such a world, but we would indeed live in a world closer to that if the people lived their lives, principles and policies closer to those expressed in Leave It To Beaver. But that’s wishful-thinking.
From what I read, Tony has suffered with depression much of his life, which started after LITB ended. And Tony’s had prostate cancer and a rare gallbladder cancer, but presumably both of those were dealt with effectively. Jerry has diabetes. That’s all I know about him. Ward, June, Lumpy, Whitey, Eddie and some of the others died. Whitey had a rather tragic ending to his life. He went from the days of having thousands of dollars in his pocket as his royalties from the show, to being almost homeless at the end and with major drug problems. As I wrote earlier, Eddie died in 2020. After the show, he joined the Los Ángeles Police Department.
I imagine that the final show was very emotionally difficult for the cast to do or that would be my guess. Having worked together so closely over 6 seasons and having produced such an excellent show, it would be difficult to say goodbye to everyone. But that’s the way it was.
For us, we had to watch the last episode twice to fully appreciate it. It was obviously planned out and was a brief review of the 6 seasons with the focus on the boys and how they had ultimately become young men. It was well done. We especially enjoyed the segment about the bath tub.
Where is the second LITB house today? The last time I saw, it was sitting on an abandoned lot with the windows broken out. That’s a shame really. Also here. Just left there. (Related).
Also, I don’t use words that indicate gender differences in English, such as words ending in “tress” to indicate females (“actress, waitress”). For example, Patricia Routledge refers to herself as an actor, not an “actress.” I take the same position. All of this “tress” stuff is silly. Actor is gender neutral, indicating both male and female. Why does there have to be a fucking “tress” ending to indicate female? And years ago, the word server replaced “waiter” or “waitress” yet many people still use the outdated, gender-based words including people who call themselves a “progressive” or a “liberal.”
I wish all the remaining cast the very best, and thank you for all the pleasure you’ve given me and many other people for your fine artistry and talent on LITB.