Barbara Billingsley became June Cleaver accidentally

It was the best mistake that ever happened.

NBC/Universal

There's a commonly held belief that there are no surprises, simply happy accidents. It can be difficult to readjust when life throws a curveball your way, but with bravery and a healthy amount of optimism, you can take things in stride, and possibly even work your new situation out to your advantage.

Barbara Billingsley was more than just a mother to The Beav and Wally in Leave It to Beaver. Though the show only ran for six seasons, Billingsley had gained a reputation as "America's Mom," and had made a lasting impact in viewers' minds. It's an adoration that was shared amongst her costars on Leave It to Beaver.

According to an interview with the New York Times, Tony Dow, who played Wally, sang his on-screen mother's praises. "She's the greatest. She's my favorite friend," he said. "She's one of the most amazing people I've been around...she's got a great sense of humor; she's a real trouper. The thing that's really amazing is that she's so elegant but just so down to earth."

Billingsley was also well-loved by The Beaver himself, Jerry Mathers. "Barbara is just as nice in person as she is on TV. She's a very gracious and lovely lady," Mathers said.

Of her own experience on the series, Billingsley seemed to be aware of the resonance that the Cleaver family had on fans. "We're the ideal family," she said. "At least it's what everyone thinks is ideal. It's the way everybody would like their family to be."

However, according to an interview with Scripps Howard News Service, Billingsley's beginning into icon status was purely accidental. Originally, Billingsley had plans to do a completely different series with none other than Jed Clampett himself, Buddy Ebsen.

"I was going to do another show with Buddy Ebsen with the same producers, but somehow it didn't materialize," Billingsley said. Luckily, after one door shuts, another opens, and when those same producers were tasked with casting Leave It to Beaver, they remembered Billingsley.

"A couple of months later I got a call to go to the studio to do this pilot show, and it was Beaver."


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2 Comments

Runeshaper 11 days ago
Barbara Billingsley was a very talented actress (-:
Peter_Falk_Fan 11 days ago
I'm glad she became June Cleaver. That's no jive.
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