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."

Watch Leave It to Beaver on MeTV!

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9 Comments

AgingDisgracefully 14 days ago
Nice to hear they found common ground and met in the middle, Beaverwise.
LarryHop 15 days ago
Would love to watch the show. However Metv wants to charge Dish customers for the channel. So because I'm a dish customer I can't watch. Thanks Metv.
LarryHop 14 days ago
This comment has been removed.
tadlem LarryHop 9 days ago
you can download the app and watch it there.
teire 15 days ago
Lovely chemistry between them as Ward and June, very understated.
Runeshaper 15 days ago
I would have never guessed that they didn't get along at some point, even if it was only in the beginning.
McGillahooala 15 days ago
That was a long build up to a Two sentence description of a minor incident. Hardly a feud.
Jerryfan 15 days ago
Well, I guess it's nice that they did eventually get along. I pretty sure that I remember reading that he could be very direct in his opinions.
justjeff Jerryfan 15 days ago
I guess that's why (as a child) I perceived Beaumont as a bit of a bully. He didn't seem as "warm and fuzzy" as other TV dads... but with age comes wisdom, and I see him in a different light nowadays...
ncadams27 justjeff 15 days ago
Ward’s character was more of a plot device, than the fathers on other shows like My Three Sons, Bachelor Father or Ozzie & Harriet. He didn’t get the funny lines or situations that the others did. Nor the “comic relief” characters like Fred Rutherford or Mrs. Mondello. Ward was there mostly to move the story along.
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