‘Leave It to Beaver’ Secrets Revealed

Leave It to Beaver is one of the most well-known American television shows of all time. The adventures of the Cleaver family – Ward, June, Wally, and Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver – became legendary, and the characters became the archetype against which all future sitcom families would be judged. However, despite the show’s popularity, there are plenty of Leave It to Beaver secrets out there.

From first auditions and casting changes to production secrets and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, we’ve found everything you could possibly want to know about Leave It to Beaver, including why the show ended after 234 episodes.

Be sure to SHARE these Leave It to Beaver secrets with everyone who appreciates classic television.

Tony Dow’s Acting Experience

Prior to his casting as Wally Cleaver, Tony Dow had little acting experience. However, he was an accomplished diver and won a Junior Olympics championship in the 1950s.

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Barbara Billingsley’s Pearls...

Cleaver family matriarch June always wore a distinctive pearl necklace throughout the series’ run. The look became an iconic part of the character, and become a universal symbol for the trope of a “sitcom mom” (see: Marge Simpsons). However, the character’s jewelry choice wasn’t a fashion statement. Actress Barbara Billingsley was insecure about an indentation in her neck and insisted on wearing the necklace in all her scenes.

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...And Her Heels

The pearls weren’t the only identifiable part of Barbara Billingsley’s wardrobe.

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Early in the series, her character, June, would often wear flat shows. However, as the show went on and the teenage actors grew, Billingsley’s shoes transitioned to heels so she could maintain a height difference with them.

Fictitious Mayfield

For years, fans have debated where the fictional town of Mayfield — where the series took place — was set. Some claimed the town was in Wisconsin (thanks to a throwaway line about the governor living in Madison), while others pointed to an episode where Beaver wanted a surfboard as proof that Mayfield was in a coastal state.

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In truth, the creators never had a specific state in mind for Mayfield.

Town Footage

Stock footage of Skokie, Illinois was used for establishing shots of Mayfield.

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Jerry Mather’s Audition

On the surface, Jerry Mather’s decision to wear his Cub Scout uniform to his Leave It to Beaver audition – and telling the casting director that they needed to hurry up so he could make his scout meeting – doesn’t seem like the smartest move. However, producers loved Mather’s childhood innocence and cast him in the title role.

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Ken Osmond Became Alice Cooper?

In the early 1970s, an urban legend took hold amongst school-aged children that Eddie Haskell – the conniving character portrayed by Ken Osmond on Leave It to Beaver – had grown up to become shock rocker Alice Cooper. The rumor began when Cooper commented in an interview that he was “obnoxious, disgusting, a real Eddie Haskell” as a child.

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Suffice it to say, Ken Osmond didn’t grow up to be Alice Cooper. However, he did lead an interesting life post-Leave It to Beaver

Officer Eddie Haskell

Eddie Haskell didn’t grow up to be Alice Cooper, but he did become an officer of the law.

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Ken Osmond became an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970, and served the public for 18 years.

Ken Osmond Was Shot

In 1980, Officer Osmond was shot three times while pursuing a suspect. His life was saved by his LAPD-issue bulletproof vest.

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Hugh Beaumont’s Ministry

Ward Cleaver, as played by Hugh Beaumont, was always presented as a morally-wise father, imparting wisdom to his sons, Wally and Beaver. It’s no surprise that Beaumont was able to pull the part off with such aplomb, as he had been a minister in the Methodist Church before becoming an actor.

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No Rear Windshield

To prevent an unwanted glare from cameras and lighting equipment, the windshields were removed from the Cleaver family car.

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The First Toilet in U.S. TV Shows

Believe it or not, showing toilets on television used to be prohibited. This was a problem for producers of Leave It to Beaver, as the first-season episode “Captain Jack” revolved around Wally and Beaver hiding a baby alligator from their parents in their toilet tank.

Source: ABC

Eventually a compromise was reached, with the show displaying the tank briefly but leaving out the bowl.

Don’t Laugh Too Hard

According to Tony Dow, producers would cut any lines that led to heavy laughter. “If any line got too much of a laugh, they’d take it out,” he said. “They didn’t want a big laugh; they wanted chuckles.”

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The First Ward Cleaver

In the original pilot episode, “It’s a Small World,” Ward Cleaver was played by well-known character actor Max Showalter (who also went by the name Casey Adams) instead of Hugh Beaumont.

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The First Wally

There were other cast differences in the pilot. Wally Cleaver was originally portrayed by actor Paul Sullivan, before being replaced by Tony Dow for the series proper.

Source: MCA TV

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