Though I wasn’t alive when the Cleavers made their debut on our TV sets, I was just as hooked by them when I stumbled upon Leave It to Beaver while channel surfing as a teen.
The nostalgic series perfectly captures the innocent side of being a child in the 1950s, and its premise surrounding the antics of a loving family has remained timeless over the decades, ever since it first aired. I also definitely had a little crush on Beaver and Wally’s friend, Eddie Haskell, with his hilarious nicknames for everyone and the ability to lay on the charm at a moment’s notice.
However, I had no idea how much was going on behind the scenes of this iconic piece of American history!
Scrolling through the facts below definitely gave me a whole new perspective on the Cleaver bunch.
Did we miss your favorite piece of trivia about the Beav? Let us know in the comments and be sure to SHARE with your friends!
1. Jerry Mathers Wore His Cub Scout Uniform To His Audition
The five-year-old actor already had a long list of credits behind him after being discovered at a Los Angeles department store. However, when he arrived for what would become his most well-remembered role, he was more concerned about it being over with in time for him to make his Cub Scout meeting.
Mathers’ endearing honesty and integrity instantly confirmed he was the perfect kiddo for the job.
2. June's Outfit Wasn't Just A Fashion Statement
Mrs. Cleaver wore flats during the first season of the series, but switched to heels in order to stay taller than her growing fictional sons. Her traditional pearls appear in every episode to hide a surgical scar on actress Barbara Billingsley’s neck.
3. Hugh Beaumont Was An Ordained Minister
Before stepping into Ward Cleaver’s shoes, he was preaching to a congregation too poor to pay him a living wage. He began taking modeling gigs to pay the bills, which eventually led to him filming the pilot and becoming the iconic father figure.
4. Beaumont Suffered Loss Just As He Found Success
When the pilot for the series got picked up quicker than Beaumont was prepared for, he flew out to Los Angeles from his home in Minnesota while his son, Hunter, drove his wife and mother-in-law.
Unfortunately, Hunter lost control of the vehicle, and Beaumont’s mother-in-law lost her life. Though he was always friendly and kind to his co-stars on set, the loss and guilt made it impossible for him to fully enjoy the show.
5. Wally Was A Real Life Jock
Before the show, Tony Dow was an avid swimmer and Junior Olympian. In fact, he owes his acting career to a lifeguard who attended his gym. The lifeguard happened to be auditioning for other roles when he heard about the athletic teen character, who letters in every high school sport and recommended Dow audition for Wally.
6. Eddie Haskell Did Not Grow Up To Be Alice Cooper
A popular rumor surfaced claiming that Ken Osmond grew up to be the rock and roll performer. This stemmed from an interview Cooper gave where he stated he was a troublemaker like Eddie in his youth, which several folks misinterpreted as meaning he actually portrayed him.
7. They Never Went For Big Laughs
The show’s low-key humor was completely on purpose, according to Tony Dow. As he explains it, if any joke got too big a laugh, it was cut from the show for a more subtle option instead.
8. The Cleavers Lived In Wisconsin
The all-American family didn’t drop many hints about where they were located, but two clues confirmed they were based in the cheese capital of the U.S. — Wisconsin. The two clues were when Wally mentions that the high school band is going to a competition in Madison, and when the Cleavers take a trip to see a professional football game to see the Green Bay Packers.
9. Jerry Mathers Called It Quits
Leave It To Beaver became the first ever show to have a series finale despite still pulling in good ratings, when Mathers decided he wanted to focus on his education as he entered high school.
10. The Marines Turned Beaver Away
Jerry Mathers attempted to enlist during the Vietnam War, and there were even rumors he passed away overseas. But after Buffalo Bills football guard Bob Kalsu was killed in combat, they refused to send another beloved American icon into the fray. Instead, he stayed state-side in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
11. You Can Still Visit The Cleaver Home
When the production moved to Universal Studio’s backlot, they built a new version of their house that still remains standing, which you can see for yourself while enjoying a tour of their lot!
Did we miss one of your favorite facts about the Cleaver family? Let us know in the comments and be sure to SHARE with your friends!