Anyone can write about ISIS, Donald Trump’s rants against Muslims, or President Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic terrorists. You can read that anywhere. But I think we can use something light every once in awhile. So let me share with you 14 things you probably didn’t know about the greatest comedy series in the history of television, Leave It to Beaver, which ran for six seasons, from 1957-1963. Like most of my generation, I grew up watching the Beave in reruns, which continue to this day. For 58 consecutive years, Leave It to Beaver has been on the air. Let the countdown begin . . .
1. Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward Cleaver, was an ordained minister with a degree in theology from the University of Southern California.
2. Tony Dow had no prior acting experience; he was a junior Olympics diver.
3. This was the first television series to show a toilet on the air.
4. Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskel, went on to become a Los Angeles police officer in 1970, and was once shot three times (but saved by his bullet-proof vest).
5. Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver, wore a pearl necklace to hide a small indention on her neck.
6. The show was set in Illinois. Actually, the state is never given, but they once used a stock photo that represented the fictitious setting of Mayfield. The photo was of Stokie, Illinois, population 64,784.
7. Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver Cleaver, showed up for his audition in his cub scout uniform, as he was on his way to a den meeting.
8. In the opening, Ward drove his car into the driveway, but his car had no back window. They removed the window to eliminate glare.
9. The show didn’t end because of bad ratings, but because Jerry Mathers went off to high school.
10. Barbara Billingsley didn’t wear heels in the first season, but did in seasons two through six, to maintain her height advantage over the boys.
11. Hugh Beaumont wasn’t the first choice for Ward. That was actor Max Showalter.
12. Leave It to Beaver was the first show in television history to end with a scripted finale.
13. The show was originally to be called Wally and the Beaver, but this title was abandoned because it sounded like a nature show.
14. After the show was ended, Jerry Mathers recorded an album, featuring Don’t Cha Cry, which met universal scorn.
My mom made me watch the show every day because it always had a lesson she thought I needed to learn. With the passing of time, I chose to watch the show and I still do. Debuting on October 4, 1957 and ending on June 20, 1963, the show remains an icon for its generation. I’ve seen all 234 episodes at least 234 times. Although it never broke into the Nielsen ratings top-30 nor won any awards, it placed on Time magazine’s list of “The 100 Best TV Shows of All Time.” Tony Dow said, “If any line got too much of a laugh, they took it out. They didn’t want a big laugh; they wanted chuckles.” Fifty-two years after the final episode, all of America is still chuckling. Thank you, Ward, June, Wally, and Beave. Thanks for reminding us of a time when the typical American family had breakfast and dinner together each day, went to church on Sunday, and led wholesome lives worthy of any generation.