What happened to the cast of Leave It to Beaver after the show ended?
After the show's finale, the cast went on to become voice actors, directors and even police officers.
Leave It to Beaver is a special show. It was an incredible challenge to schedule for both networks that aired it, and it never landed in the Neilsen ratings top 30 during its initial run. However, something changed when Leave It to Beaver began airing in re-runs. The sitcom became a stand-in for a version of mid-century America. Leave It to Beaver's characters never faced problems left unresolved for longer than a half-hour. The Cleavers lived a picket-fenced middle-class life that was adopted as a collective recollection of the late-'50s and early-'60s. For many, the show and its characters were representative of "simpler times."
Just like that era, though, Leave It to Beaver came to an end. The show's six seasons were re-aired, in perpetuity, all over the world. But the actors involved moved on to other roles and into other lives. Here is the story of what happened to each of Leave It to Beaver's principal actors when the show came to an end.
Watch Leave It to Beaver on MeTV!
Weekdays at 8 & 8:30 AM, Sundays at 1 & 1:30 PM*available in most MeTV markets
1. Jerry Mathers (Beaver)
Leave It to Beaver ended when its star was 15 years old. By then, Jerry Mathers had already recorded and released a single titled "Don't Cha Cry." Throughout high school, Mathers played with his band Beaver and the Trappers. From 1966 to 1969, he was a member of the military, serving in the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard. Mathers returned to the limelight in 1978, reuniting with co-star Tony Dow in a few theatrical productions before starring in The New Leave It to Beaver from '83-'89. Later, Mathers became the first male Jenny Craig spokesperson. In 2007, he appeared on Broadway as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray.
2. Tony Dow (Wally)
When Beaver ended, Tony Dow, like his onscreen brother, served his country during the Vietnam War. He continued acting, parodying his role as Wally in the 1977 comedy Kentucky Fried Movie. In addition to his onscreen work, Dow is a gifted director, helming episodes of shows like Harry and the Hendersons, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Tony Dow was an outspoken advocate for mental health, revealing in the '90s his struggles with clinical depression while also chronicling his story in a series of self-help videos.
3. Barbara Billingsley (June)
Following Leave It to Beaver, the show's matriarch struggled with typecasting, and Billingsley, disillusioned, stepped away from her career for much of the '70s. Her triumphant return to the public eye came in a cameo appearance in the 1980 classic Airplane!, where she spoofed her image, much as Dow had years prior. Billingsley voiced the Nanny in Muppet Babies, keeping the cuddly creatures safe and sound for 107 headless episodes.
4. Hugh Beaumont (Ward)
After leaving his post as the dad on Beaver, Hugh Beaumont mostly starred in guest roles. Before gradually leaving the entertainment business, he popped up on shows like Wagon Train, Mannix and Petticoat Junction. In his later life, Beaumont had a second career as a Christmas tree farmer in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Beaumont officially retired from acting in 1972.
5. Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell)
Here's a direct quote from Ken Osmond in a 2008 interview with radio host Stu Shostak: "I was very much typecast. It's a death sentence. In Hollywood, you get typecast. I'm not complaining because Eddie's been too good to me, but I found work hard to come by. In 1968, I bought my first house, in '69 I got married, and we were going to start a family and I needed a job, so I went out and signed up for the LAPD." In 1980, while in pursuit of a suspected car thief, Osmond was shot three times. The bulletproof vest Osmond was wearing protected him from two of the bullets. The third ricocheted off his belt buckle.
6. Frank Bank (Lumpy)
Frank Bank did not appear in any non-Beaver shows or movies after his time as Lumpy came to an end. Instead, Bank leaned into his surname and became a bond broker in Los Angeles. He'd later star again in The New Leave It to Beaver, reprising his earlier role. In 1997, Bank released his memoir, "Call Me Lumpy: My Leave It To Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life."
7. Richard Deacon (Fred Rutherford)
Deacon was easily the most prolific of his Beaver co-stars, appearing in dozens of films and shows after the sitcom ended. In addition to starring in The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Jack Benny Program, Deacon showed up in both The Munsters and The Addams Family. Deacon wasn't just an actor, he was also a gourmet chef, releasing several cookbooks throughout his career.
Who did it: Wally or Beaver Cleaver?
Wally and the Beaver did a lot of silly things that got them in trouble. Can you remember who did what?
I love the early shows but, to me, it could have ended after four seasons.
Not sure how often these points about LITB need to be repeated, but oh well. Guess there are always newer readers. It's tough to plug-in a nearly 60 year old series into the present day. Unless viewers (fans) are looking for a couple of things. One, is simplicity, aka escapism. The literal plots were incidental to the greater significance of the story being told. No kid ever got stuck in the 3-dimensional coffee cup hanging onto a billboard. But it would be kind of boring to hear a kid say they left their bike unlocked in front of store where it was stolen. The purpose is the same however. Because the Series was about relationships. And in particular, about how they were exaggerated from a kid's point of view. We can't see it in this day, because nobody teaches (or learns) respect now. But that was the core (value) of the moral tales being showcased back them. Where incidents and people seemed larger than life. If kids seemed dumb, it was because they thought they were dumb. But nobody would find one in a million today, who thinks in that fashion. LITB is clearly a period piece (no longer being fashionable entertainment). But is the equivalent of looking through a window into the past of some peoples' (and not even the majority) experience. Or at least how they felt it to be (for right or for wrong). Because it was written and produced by Connelly and Mosher, who illustrated how it "seemed" to come across to them anyway, as they were growing up. If looked at carefully, they tried to avoid overly contrived plots (unlike the BB) while still earning viewers' interest.
In fact, it was correct, wise, and sensible for JM (and the Production Co.) to quit before entering High School. Where a young person's point of view (naivete) could no longer be sustained. Eddie Haskell (character) was the intentional counter-point for the benefit of casual viewers who could only see a saccharine approach to living. But the show wasn't about Eddie, and given his pattern of behavior, he wouldn't have lasted for more than a season. Unless they turned him into another Fonzie. Producers very intentionally decided on actors not well-known in that day, again so as not to distract attention from a sense of normalcy.
Wally gave Eddie and Lumpy the scoop ( as patiently as he could) with the flavors of ice-cream on the menu at Mr. Gibson's drugstore in " Wally's Weekend Job." :
Glad the show has remained as a mainstay on the program schedule. It's a fun series.
Simple: They were contracted for x ( fill in the blank) amount of episodes in their respective series, story-lines.
No conspiracies, mysteries, reasons or explanations necessary.
They were hired, they did their job, they moved on.
PS Add: Situations such as for example- Elinor Donahue asking to be let out of her contract on TAGS, and other contract negotiations-re-negotiations are a normal part on any series.
"Changes happen", and when they do, the producers of any show adapt to those changes and move on.