Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley didn't get along, at first
They were lifelong friends, but not at first!
It's hard to remember, sometimes, that not everything is as it appears onscreen. Especially when TV is at its best, we can easily take for granted that what's being presented to us is close to the truth. When people are chummy on a show, we feel like they must be in real life, as well. We want Don Knotts and Andy Griffith to be real-life best friends. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore have such palpable chemistry, that we can't help but picture their comradery extending past their show's conclusion.
But if there's one thing that rivals the excitement of a televised friendship, it has to be animosity. There's a certain fascination with discovering bad blood behind the scenes. When people don't get along after the cameras stop rolling, people want those details. It's why Dawn Wells and Tina Louise continue to be subjects of interest. People want to know the ins and outs of their time together.
A relationship that many take for granted is the one between Ward and June Cleaver. They're so pleasantly perfect that we can almost write them off, forgetting that they're real people with histories and feelings. You wouldn't be wrong to assume that their chemistry was rooted in mutual respect. That kind of amicable rapport is hard to fake.
In his 1998 autobiography, ...And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver, Mathers discusses everything there is to know about his time in the spotlight. One of his favorite topics is the people he spent time with. Mathers gives Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow a voice within the pages of his books, frequently deferring to both to speak their truths. His willingness to cede space to his co-stars allows for a clearer picture of what actually happened on Leave It to Beaver.
When he discusses the casting process for the show, Mathers heaps praise onto his TV parents. There's such a clear fondness for both Billingsley and Beaumont.
"Of course, Hugh and Barbara may well have been the most likable television parents of them all," Mathers wrote. "Barbara always said that Hugh just became better looking the older he got, and that even after he got sick he was absolutely handsome with that shock of white hair."
However, the affection he felt for his onscreen Mom and Dad wasn't initially a feeling that Billingsley shared for Beaumont.
"I was a little taken aback when Barbara said that at first they didn't really get along that well," Mathers wrote.
Luckily, though, Mathers allowed Billingsley to present her side of the story, clearing the air and setting the record straight.
"[Hugh Beaumont] called me a Pollyanna and that teed me off," Billingsley revealed to Mathers. "But we soon learned to get along very well, and we became great, great friends. I miss him dearly."