Jerry Mathers

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly four-hour Archive interview, Jerry Mathers talks about his start as a child model from the age of two, which led to his acting career in live television in the early 1950s. He describes an early appearance on a western sketch on All Star Revue with Ed Wynn, in which he wore a diaper and six shooters and delivered the line, "I'm the toughest hombre in these here parts." He recalls getting cast in Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Trouble With Harry," and describes how, in a real-life fire stunt gone wrong, Bob Hope saved him from the smoke and flames while shooting a scene in "The Seven Little Foys." Mathers then speaks in great detail about the role and series for which he is most known, that of "Theodore 'Beaver' Cleaver" on Leave It to Beaver. He discusses the premise of the show and the significance of its child's point-of-view. He talks about each of the principal cast members, outlines their careers leading up to and following Leave It to Beaver and recounts the plots of several classic episodes of the series, including "Captain Jack," in which Wally and Beaver secretly keep a pet alligator, "A Horse Named Nick," in which Wally and Beaver accept a horse in payment for work they did at a traveling circus and "In the Soup," in which Beaver falls into a billboard's soup bowl display. Mathers describes his post-Leave It to Beaver years in which he left show business to earn his degree, served in the National Guard, and worked in banking and real estate. He then describes his return to full-time acting when he went on tour in the stage production "So Long, Stanley," co-starring his on-screen Cleaver brother, Tony Dow. Mathers discusses his return to the role of "'Beaver' Cleaver" in the 1980's, in the made-for-television movie Still the Beaver and the subsequent series The New Leave It To Beaver. Lastly, Mathers talks about his charitable interests and current projects. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on June 20, 2006 in Los Angeles, CA.

"People say, 'Do you hate to be called 'The Beaver'?' 'Beaver' is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It's made my life. It's something that I can be proud of."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Jerry Mathers on how he got the part of "The Beaver" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how the name "Beaver" was chosen for his character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the location of the original Leave It To Beaver house
Jerry Mathers on the episode of Leave It To Beaver that was banned: "Captain Jack"
Jerry Mathers on events that lead to the rumor that he had been killed in action
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his memories of his early childhood in Los Angeles; on his mother's role in his career as a child actor; on the volume of fan mail he and on-screen Cleaver brother Tony Dow would receive on Leave it to Beaver; on film roles he and his sister had as very young children; on the schedule for Leave it to Beaver; on the strict child labor policies of the studio at that time
On how he got started in show business as a child model at the age of two; on working in live TV in the 1950's for the Colgate Comedy Hour with Ed Wynn and also in December Bride, The Ray Bolger Show and the Lux Video Theater; on working with Alfred Hitchcock on The Trouble With Harry; on doing live commercials; on his memories of the audience's reaction to his work; on working with various celebrities as a child including Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Walter Pidgeon, Alan Ladd, Linda Darnell, Pearl Bailey, and Bob Hope

Chapter 2

On his work with Spike Jones; on the dangers for children working on set; on a small role he had on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; on working on Matinee Theater; on how Bob Hope saved his life while filming The Seven Little Foys; on his impressions of George Sanders and Pearl Bailey
On working on Lux Video Theater; on meeting Alfred Hitchcock and working with him on The Trouble with Harry; on his impressions of the cast; on the audition process for Leave It To Beaver

Chapter 3

On the pilot episode for Leave It To Beaver; on the new and unique perspective of Leave It To Beaver on TV at the time; on the process involved in selling Leave It To Beaver and the link to sponsorship; on the re-casting of the show; on the filming schedule for the show; on where the writers, Connelly and Mosher found their inspiration for every episode; on how the name "Beaver" was chosen for the main character
On anomalies on Leave It To Beaver; on how his character's nickname was explained on the show; on working with Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, and Hugh Beaumont; on what "Beaver" was like; on his impressions of the character of Eddie Haskell and other characters on the show

Chapter 4

On how Barbara Billingsley gave up smoking to play the character of "June Cleaver" on Leave It To Beaver; on Leave It To Beaver being shown around the world; on the one country where Leave It To Beaver never aired; on the themes of the show and how they are portrayed; on "Beaver's" friends on the show; on "Beaver's" manner of speaking on Leave It To Beaver
On the similarities between "Beaver" and "Ricky Rickover" on Leave It To Beaver; on how episodes were inspired by real-life children the writers knew; on input he had on the show; on how he learned scripts for Leave It To Beaver; on handling dyslexia as an actor; on the baseball cap he wore as "Beaver Cleaver;" on the location of the Leave It To Beaver house; on the directors of Leave It To Beaver

Chapter 5

On his recollections of Dolph Zimmer; on the shift from people working in the movie industry to working in television; on the fictional town of Mayfield on Leave It To Beaver; on how the show changed as "Beaver" got older; on the episode of Leave It To Beaver that was banned: "Captain Jack;" on how Leave It To Beaver was the first show on TV to show a bathroom and a toilet
On classic Leave it to Beaver episodes: "Beaver Gets 'Spelled'" and "Beaver's Short Pants," on minorities featured in the episode "Beaver and Chuey;" on the classic episode "A Horse Named Nick," on addressing the subject of alcoholism on the episode "Beaver and Andy;" on the episode "Teacher Comes to Dinner"

Chapter 6

On the classic Leave It To Beaver episode "Teacher Comes to Dinner;" on the most expensive Leave It To Beaver episode "In the Soup;" on life lessons on Leave It To Beaver; on Leave It To Beaver being nominated for an Emmy Award; on who the core audience is for The New Leave It To Beaver; on the end of Leave It To Beaver; on attending school and his plans after Leave It To Beaver
On being a part of the band "Beaver and the Trappers;" on recording three Rock 'n' Roll records; on serving in the armed forces; on going to UC Berkley for college; on working in bank management; on working in real estate; on the rumor that he was killed in action; on stage work he did with Tony Dow in the 1970's

Chapter 7

On working with Tony Dow on stage in Boeing, Boeing; on working on the TV movie Still The Beaver; on how the New Leave It To Beaver show came about; on doing the play So Long Stanley; on becoming a full time actor again; on learning more as an actor; on public appearances with Tony Dow; on public speaking engagements over the years
On the premise for The New Leave it to Beaver; on memories of Hugh Beaumont; on directing for The New Leave It To Beaver; on working with children; on his current projects including a film about the Von Trapp family and another titled Will To Power; on working on the PBS special, Getting Around; on his proudest achievement

Chapter 8

On advice he would give to an aspiring actor; on directing and working on set; on the anniversary of Leave It To Beaver; on the differences between the original Leave It To Beaver and the movie in the 1990's; on his thoughts about the 50th anniversary of Leave It To Beaver
On how he would like to be remembered; on charity work that he has done
Shows

Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet, The

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Jerry Mathers on appearing in a small part on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Jerry Mathers on how he would see Alfred Hitchcock on the lot when he would film the openings for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including one that was filmed on the Leave It To Beaver set

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Jerry Mathers on working with Ed Wynn in commercials for The Colgate Variety Hour

Leave it to Beaver

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Jerry Mathers on his memories of the volume of fan mail he and Tony Down received on Leave it to Beaver and the dressing room set up on the set
Jerry Mathers on the strict child labor laws on the set of Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on being cast on Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how he would see Alfred Hitchcock on the lot when he would film the openings for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including one that was filmed on the Leave It To Beaver set
Jerry Mathers on how he got the part of "The Beaver" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on his character "Beaver (Theodore) Cleaver" on Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on actor Ken Osmond and his Leave it to Beaver character "Eddie Haskell"
Jerry Mathers on the character of 'Wally" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on Barbara Billingsley's character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on Hugh Beaumont's character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on what made Leave it to Beaver stand out; on storylines, the writers, and his character
Jerry Mathers on his Leave it to Beaver co-star Barbara Billingsley
Jerry Mathers on Leave it to Beaver as a situation comedy
Jerry Mathers on his character "Beaver Cleaver's" way of talking on Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the baseball cap he wore as "Beaver Cleaver" on Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the fictional Leave it to Beaver town of Mayfield
Jerry Mathers on the episode of Leave It To Beaver that was banned: "Captain Jack"
Jerry Mathers on the classic Leave it to Beaver episode: "Beaver Gets 'Spelled'"
Jerry Mathers on how Leave It To Beaver changed over the years
On several classic Leave it to Beaver episodes: "Beaver's Short Pants," "Beaver and Chuey," "A Horse Named Nick," "Beaver and Andy" and "Teacher Comes to Dinner"
Jerry Mathers on the Leave it to Beaver episodes "Teacher Comes to Dinner" and "In the Soup"
Jerry Mathers on the end of Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on Leave It To Beaver being nominated for an Emmy Award

Lux Video Theatre

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Jerry Mathers on meeting Alfred Hitchcock backstage while appearing on the Lux Video Theater, leading to his casting in the feature film The Trouble with Harry

NBC Matinee Theater

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Jerry Mathers on working on Matinee Theater

New Leave it to Beaver, The

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Jerry Mathers on who the core audience is for The New Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the start of The New Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on updating the characters for The New Leave it to Beaver, and his experience directing for the series
Jerry Mathers on the anniversary of Leave It To Beaver; on the differences between the original Leave It To Beaver and the movie in the 1990's

Ray Bolger Show, The

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Jerry Mathers on working on "live" TV with Ray Bolger

Spike Jones

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Jerry Mathers on working on live TV with Spike Jones
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Jerry Mathers on how he got the part of "The Beaver" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how the name "Beaver" was chosen for his character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" manner of speaking on Leave It To Beaver

Emmy Awards

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Jerry Mathers on Leave It To Beaver being nominated for an Emmy Award
Jerry Mathers on events that lead to the rumor that he had been killed in action

Minorities

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Jerry Mathers on the classic Leave it to Beaver episode: "Beaver and Chuey" which featured minorities on television

Pop Culture

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Jerry Mathers on how he got the part of "The Beaver" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how the name "Beaver" was chosen for his character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" manner of speaking on Leave It To Beaver

Television Industry

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Jerry Mathers on the cattle call casting process for Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how Leave It To Beaver got picked up as a series after several pilots
Jerry Mathers on the shift from people working in the movie industry to working in television
Jerry Mathers on censorship in television
Jerry Mathers on the challenges of directing a situation comedy and working with children
Professions

Actor

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Jerry Mathers on learning how to cry on command as an actor
Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" manner of speaking on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on how he learned scripts for Leave It To Beaver
Genres

Comedy Series

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Jerry Mathers on his memories of the volume of fan mail he and Tony Down received on Leave it to Beaver and the dressing room set up on the set
Jerry Mathers on the casting process for Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on themes, characters, and acting on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the setting and specific episodes of Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on specific episodes, the end, and revival of of Leave it to Beaver
Jerry Mathers on his thoughts about the 50th anniversary and recording interviews with the cast of Leave It To Beaver

Drama Series

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Jerry Mathers on working on Matinee Theater

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jerry Mathers on working on variety shows in the 1950's on live TV with Ed Wynn

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Jerry Mathers on working on the TV movie Still The Beaver
People

Norman Abbott

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Jerry Mathers on the directors of Leave It To Beaver including Norman Tokar, David Butler, Norman Abbott, Gene Reynolds, and Bretaigne Windust

Pearl Bailey

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Jerry Mathers on working with Pearl Bailey

Hugh Beaumont

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Jerry Mathers on Hugh Beaumont's character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the classic Leave it to Beaver episode: "A Horse Named Nick"
Jerry Mathers on memories of Hugh Beaumont

Barbara Billingsley

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Jerry Mathers on the original cast for Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on Barbara Billingsley's character on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on his Leave it to Beaver co-star Barbara Billingsley

Ray Bolger

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Jerry Mathers on working on "live" TV with Ray Bolger

David Butler

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Jerry Mathers on the directors of Leave It To Beaver including Norman Tokar, David Butler, Norman Abbott, Gene Reynolds, and Bretaigne Windust

Joe Connelly

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Jerry Mathers on the personality and responsibilities of Joe Connelly on Leave It To Beaver

Richard Correll

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Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" friends, Rusty Steven's "Larry Mondello," Stanley Fafara's "Whitey Whitney," Stephen Talbot's "Gilbert Bates," Richard Correll's "Richard Rickover," Jeri Weil's "Judy Hensler" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the similarities between "Beaver" and Richard Correll on Leave It To Beaver

Tony Dow

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Jerry Mathers on his memories of the volume of fan mail he and Tony Down received on Leave it to Beaver and the dressing room set up on the set
Jerry Mathers on working with Tony Dow on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on stage work he did with Tony Dow in the 1970's
Jerry Mathers on working with Tony Dow on stage
Jerry Mathers on joint public appearances with Tony Dow
Jerry Mathers on his thoughts about the 50th anniversary and recording interviews with the cast of Leave It To Beaver

Stanley Fafara

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Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" friends, Rusty Steven's "Larry Mondello," Stanley Fafara's "Whitey Whitney," Stephen Talbot's "Gilbert Bates," Richard Correll's "Richard Rickover" Jeri Weil's "Judy Hensler" on Leave It To Beaver

Edmund Gwenn

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Jerry Mathers on working with Edmund Gwenn on The Trouble with Harry

Alfred Hitchcock

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Jerry Mathers on working with Alfred Hitchcock on The Trouble With Harry
Jerry Mathers on meeting Alfred Hitchcock and working with him on The Trouble with Harry and seeing him around the lot at the studio

Bob Hope

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Jerry Mathers on working with Bob Hope and other celebrities
Jerry Mathers on how Bob Hope saved his life while working on The Seven Little Foys

Shirley MacLaine

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Jerry Mathers on working with Shirley MacLaine on The Trouble With Harry
Jerry Mathers on working with Shirley Maclaine in The Trouble with Harry

Bob Mosher

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Jerry Mathers on the personality and responsibilities of Bob Mosher on Leave It To Beaver

Ryan O'Neal

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Jerry Mathers on Ryan O'Neal's appearance on Leave It To Beaver

Ken Osmond

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Jerry Mathers on working with Ken Osmond on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on "Beaver's" arch-nemesis, "Eddie Haskell" on Leave It To Beaver
Jerry Mathers on the classic Leave it to Beaver episode: "Beaver and Chuey" with Ken Osmond as "Eddie Haskell"
Jerry Mathers on his thoughts about the 50th anniversary and recording interviews with the cast of Leave It To Beaver

Gene Reynolds

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Jerry Mathers on the directors of Leave It To Beaver including Norman Tokar, David Butler, Norman Abbott, Gene Reynolds, and Bretaigne Windust

Frank Sinatra

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Jerry Mathers on working Frank Sinatra and other celebrities

Norman Tokar

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Jerry Mathers on the directors of Leave It To Beaver including Norman Tokar, David Butler, Norman Abbott, Gene Reynolds, and Bretaigne Windust

Ted Turner

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Jerry Mathers on the large order of 89 episodes by Ted Turner for the New Leave It To Beaver

Bretaigne Windust

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Jerry Mathers on the directors of Leave It To Beaver including Norman Tokar, David Butler, Norman Abbott, Gene Reynolds, and Bretaigne Windust

Ed Wynn

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Jerry Mathers on working with Ed Wynn in commercials for the Colgate Variety Hour

Dolph Zimmer

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Jerry Mathers on his recollections of Dolph Zimmer

All Interviews

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