This Mayberry visitor was briefly the original Ward Cleaver

You might know this actor by two different names.

Read to Me

"The Horse Trader" offers the rare chance to see Sheriff Andy Taylor setting a poor example for his son, Opie. In this early episode of The Andy Griffith Show, an antique dealer breezes into Mayberry. Andy lies to the fellow, Ralph Mason. He tells Mason that the rickety, unsightly old cannon in downtown Mayberry is of great historical significance, with links to the Civil War and Teddy Roosevelt. But it's just a piece of junk.

To his credit, Andy rights his wrong and fessed up to Mr. Mason. But we're not here to talk about the cannon. We're here to talk about Mr. Mason.

Classic TV fans will undoubtedly have an "Oh! Oh! That guy!" moment when Ralph Mason appears onscreen. With his wide grin and throaty voice, the actor who played Mason was on dozens of beloved shows. And he worked under two completely different names.

Max Showalter got his showbiz start in theater and on Broadway. As the 1940s came to a close, the Kansas native signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. The rub? Studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck was no fan of the name "Max Showalter." He changed the newcomer's name to "Casey Adams." 

As "Adams," Showalter would appear in many Fox flicks, most notably alongside Marilyn Monroe in Niagara (1953). In the mid-Fifties, he shifted more to the small screen. He was largely a guest star, on series such as The Lorette Young Show, Matinee Theatre and The Twilight Zone.

One particularly juicy lead role slipped through his fingers.

In 1957, the anthology series Studio 57 served up a pilot of a promising new sitcom told from the point of view of a young boy. It was called It's a Small World, and centered around the exploits of a cute kid named Beaver Cleaver. Gee, Wally, you've probably heard of him.

Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver) was there alongside Jerry Mathers (Beaver), but Wally and Ward were portrayed by two different performers. "Casey Adams" shared top billing. In the episode, he lectures Beaver on the importance of being fair and honest much like Andy teaches Opie.

Of course, "Adams" would lose the role to Hugh Beaumont when the sitcom went to series and became Leave It to Beaver.

He might have lost that role, but Showalter did score a significant win in the early Sixties when he won the use of his true name back. Which is why you might have seen him billed as Max Showalter in shows like Bewitched, Bob Newhart and The Love Boat. Astute Perry Mason viewers will note that he appeared six times on the mystery series — three times and Casey Adams and three times as Max Showalter.

You can't win every cast, but what's more important than your true identity?

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 8 PM & 8:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

43 Comments

Post a comment
obectionoverruled 8 days ago
Maybe because they’re not racially obsessed.
Wendyrm71 9 days ago
Why arent any black shows on this channel?
Wiseguy Wendyrm71 8 days ago
Because Antenna TV or Decades already have the rights to them.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Whenever Mrs. Kissle breaks wind...we beat the Dog!

His best line ever...from the movie "10"

2nd best line, when he tickles Molly Ringworm calling her "Sammy Davis Jr." and Carole Cook tells him to "Stop...You are going to make her Tinkle"
AgingDisgracefully 9 days ago
I feared yous were suggesting June was putting it about in a not very 1950s way.
Northernlitez1 9 days ago
So glad they changed the line up! Hugh was Ward and likewise with Tony Dow.
JoeyBagadonuts802 9 days ago
He sure looks like the guy who played the "Counter man/Martian" in the Twilight Zone episode..."Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up"?.......But unless Showalter/Adams used a third name.....it's not him.
THAT actor's name was Barney Phillips.
Barney Phillips was Joe Friday's partner in the original Dragnet (1951-52, after the actor who played his partner in the radio series and the first couple of TV episodes died) and stayed for the rest of that season. He was also co-star to Betty White on The Betty White Show in 1977-78.
I think that was Ross Martin ?
JHP 9 days ago
well Me-Tv

look back on The Bob Newhart show

this cannon buyer (TAGS) was a nudist on The Bob Newhart show
Bob was requested to go to a nudist camp and the head\director of that
camp was him

hmmmmmm - Ward Cleaver a nudist:)
Muleskinner 9 days ago
I remember that LITB pilot. Ward (Casey Adams) actually smokes a cigarette in one scene. Imagine that! Never again after the pilot with Hugh Beaumont.
I remember in 2007 when TV Land (back when TV Land was still good) was celebrating the 50th anniversary of LITB, and actually broadcasted this rare pilot - they, too, pointed out that the Ward Cleaver we've come ot know and love would NEVER be seen smoking a cigarette - and certainly not in front of his boys.
pattysdaughter 9 days ago
‘Is it a small world’ available anywhere? Would love to see it.
Here it is on Vimeo.com. Youtube also had a video of clips of the show with original cast members talking about it. https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geKI7_Wi1g9PcAlQNXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzMEdnRpZANDMDY3Ml8xBHNlYwNzcg--/RV=2/RE=1613613951/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fvimeo.com%2f472445647/RK=2/RS=E8OYFlqs3tUDutO96VZkwmEIAic-
CaptChris 10 days ago
A real treat is watching the five movies Hugh Beaumont played as Michael Shane Private Detective. Before Beaver!
Dario 10 days ago
Niagara(1953) also features Jean Peters(1926-2000), a popular leading lady for 20th Century-Fox, who plays Casey's newlywed wife in the film. Both Adams(aka Showalter) and Peters also appear together in another good film, Vicki(also 1953), a good film noir, which tells the story of a police detective who is obsessed with a dead model & entertainer(Peters) by pinning the crime on her press agent(Elliot Reid), who engineered Vicki's rise to fame. 😁😁😁😁😁
Mike Dario 10 days ago
Next time you see VICKI, check the music credits.
There's a song in the movie, one of whose writers was Max Showalter.
How many performers can you think of who got two credits under two different names in the same movie?
That's how good Max Showalter/Casey Adams was - and why his career lasted as long as it did.
His talents are much missed.
Dario Mike 10 days ago
I think I noticed that when I saw this film on YouTube a few years ago. I'll check it out again when I get a chance to watch the movie. Thanks for the heads-up! 👍😀
trogg888 Dario 9 days ago
lets not forget about creepy bad guy joseph cotton
Imo Jean Peters stole the show from the talentless Norma Jean Baker aka Marilyn Monroe in Niagara. Also journey(wo)man Lurene Tuttle was remarkable in this flick. Strong female performances from all 3, although MM’s was mostly as eye candy to the men in attendance.
Dario trogg888 8 days ago
He was good in Niagara. 😀
😡😡😡😡😡
Mike trogg888 2 days ago
Please ...

Joseph COTTEN.
With an 'e'.
Always drives me nuts when people make this mistake ...
HoosierKid 10 days ago
I absolutely cannot imagine anyone but Hugh Beaumont playing Ward Cleaver. He is the best tv dad in my opinion!
Wiseguy HoosierKid 8 days ago
That's because you saw Hugh Beaumont first. If you saw Casey Adams in the series first then Hugh Beaumont in the original pilot you'd think no one could play the part other than Casey Adams.
harlow1313 10 days ago
Casey was no chopper in a hopper, he was one clever Cleaver!
raymondo 11 days ago
I'm known by a number of names on and off the air. Can you guess which names they are? Stayed tuned for the results.
MrsPhilHarris 11 days ago
I just watched some clips on YouTube. Richard Deacon played Mr. Baxter.
denny 11 days ago
Max was also in the classic 80s movie 16 Candles, as a grandfather to Molly Ringwald.
cperrynaples denny 10 days ago
He was also a priest in 10, although his housekeeper stole that scene...LOL!
Jon denny 9 days ago
Longtime character actor Edward Andrews played her other grandfather. A friend of mine remembers Andrews' line "Dong, where is my automobile?".
denny Jon 8 days ago
Yeah, I always remember Andrews from those old Disney movies.
Andybandit 11 days ago
Good story, interesting info about TAGS, and LITB. Does anybody know why Metv airs the TAGS from 1960-1965. When it aired from 1960-1968. Where is the episodes from 1966, 1967, and 1968. I was looking forward to watching those episodes.
denny Andybandit 11 days ago
A lot of people are anti-color episodes of TAGS. Mainly because Barney is gone. I know people that only watch the b&w episodes.
METV has aired the colored TAGS TAGS before. It's just not time for them to do it again, I guess. But they have been shown before. Or, if they go by ratings {which I think they do,} the b/w are more popular, so they get aired more frequently.
Kenner 11 days ago
I also thought he should have played Gilbert’s dad on LITB. Just saying.
ncadams27 Kenner 10 days ago
I would have liked the actor who played Mr. Dennison in two first season episodes play Gilbert’s father. He was Gilbert’s real-life father.
daDoctah 11 days ago
Guess I need to add Max/Casey to my list of actors who've had significant credits under multiple names. Along with Rat Patrol's "Hans Gudegast" who became "Eric Braeden", and child actor "Suzanne Cupito" who grew up to become "Morgan Brittany".
cperrynaples daDoctah 10 days ago
Braeden changed his name because it was too ethnic and Cupito want to get away from her child actress years! Cupito has more than enough credits to qualify for a "Watch me on ME" plug!
Barry22 daDoctah 10 days ago
Rocky Echavarria (sp?) "Que Pasa USA" who became Steven Bauer "Scarface". My wife went to high school with him.
Pacificsun 11 days ago
Oh goodness that would've been an awful show if they hadn't recast the roles! Thanks heavens for focus groups. Or maybe it was just serendipity??
Wiseguy Pacificsun 8 days ago
As mentioned elsewhere, that is just because you saw the final cast first in the series. No matter who was finally cast in the series, you would have accepted them as the "real" actors.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 5 days ago
😉 Not to be contentious, but I’ll fight for this opinion, since LITB is one of my favorite shows! Your theory, maybe with some shows yes (like Perry Mason) but not with this one. I’ve seen Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter) in other roles. Broad skills used in theater performances or in film are different than for small screen TV. Particularly when it’s a role invited into peoples’ homes weekly. Fred MacMurry was able to pull off the transition in MTS, because he was an understated actor. Very deliberate, thoughtful and well-paced. But you over-energize the performance, particularly in the presence of children, and you’re competing with them. Not supporting them. Andy Griffith is the same way. Offering plenty of “give” for Ronny Howard to shine. A lot of actors don’t have the patience OR then generosity. It's an instinct. IMO Adams/Showalter had a bit of a sarcasm, a “look at me” persona. Whereas Hugh Beaumont was the opposite, and very authentic. Perhaps his ministry training helped. No, the way those LITB roles are played is locked in! 😉
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?