Jerry Mathers

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Jerry Mathers
Jerry Mathers.jpg
Mathers in 2007
Gerald Patrick Mathers

(1948-06-02) June 2, 1948 (age 71)
Other namesJerry Mather
Education Notre Dame High School
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1950present
Known forPortrayal of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver
Home town Los Angeles, California, US
Diana Platt(m. 19741981)

Rhonda Gehring (m. 198?–1997)
Teresa Modnick(m. 2011)
ChildrenNoah Mathers
Mercedes Mathers
Gretchen Mathers
Relatives Jim Mathers (brother)

Gerald Patrick Mathers (born June 2, 1948) is an American actor. Mathers is best known for his role in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver , originally broadcast from 1957 to 1963, in which he played Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, the younger son of the suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont, respectively) and the brother of Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow).

A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy, is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form can also include mockumentaries.

<i>Leave It to Beaver</i> American sitcom from the 1950s and 60s

Leave It to Beaver is a late 1950s black-and-white American television sitcom about an inquisitive and often naïve boy, Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver, and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver's parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver's brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the United States, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.

June Cleaver

June Evelyn Bronson Cleaver is a principal character in the American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. June and her husband, Ward, are often invoked as the archetypal suburban parents of the 1950s. The couple are the parents of two sons, Wally and "Beaver". Wally is twelve years old and in the seventh grade when the series opens; Beaver is seven years old and in the third grade. Episodes followed the escapades of Wally and Beaver and usually ended with a moral lesson delivered to the boys, but also often included reminders of childhood and minor lessons for the parents through the adventures of their boys. She was included in Yahoo!'s Top 10 TV Moms from Six Decades of Television for the time period 1957–1963.


Early life and family

Mathers was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1948, the son of a high school principal, and grew up in Rock Rapids, [1] about 75 miles north, and in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California. [2] Jerry has three siblings, one sister and two brothers, including Susie Mathers McSweeney and Jimmy Mathers.

Sioux City, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Sioux City is a city in Woodbury and Plymouth counties in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 82,684 in the 2010 census, which makes it the fourth largest city in Iowa. The bulk of the city is in Woodbury County, of which it is the county seat, though a small portion is in Plymouth County. Sioux City is located at the navigational head of the Missouri River. The city is home to several cultural points of interest including the Sioux City Public Museum, Sioux City Art Center and Sergeant Floyd Monument, which is a National Historic Landmark. The city is also home to Chris Larsen Park, commonly referred to as “the Riverfront,” includes the Anderson Dance Pavilion, Sergeant Floyd Riverboat Museum and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Sioux City is the primary city of the five-county Sioux City, IA–NE–SD Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), with a population of 168,825 in 2010 and a slight increase to an estimated 168,921 in 2012. The Sioux City–Vermillion, IA–NE–SD Combined Statistical Area had a population of 182,675 as of 2010 and has grown to an estimated population of 183,052 as of 2012.

Rock Rapids, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Rock Rapids is a city in Lyon County, Iowa, United States. It is the county seat of Lyon County. The population was 2,549 in the 2010 census, a decline from 2,573 in the 2000 census.

San Fernando Valley large populated valley in Los Angeles County, California, USA

The San Fernando Valley is an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, defined by the mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it. Home to 1.77 million people, it is north of the larger, more populous Los Angeles Basin.

Early career

Mathers began his career at the age of 2 when he appeared as a child model for a department store ad. [3] Soon after, he starred in a commercial for PET Milk opposite vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn. [2]

Television advertisement Paid commercial segment on television

A television advertisement is a span of television programming produced and paid for by an organization. It conveys a message, aimed to market a product or service. Advertisers and marketeers may refer to television commercials as TVCs.

Pet, Inc.

Pet, Inc., was an American company that was the first to commercially produce evaporated milk as a shelf-stable consumer product and later became a multi-brand food products conglomerate. Its signature product, PET Evaporated Milk, is now a product of The J.M. Smucker Company. PET Dairy is a regional brand of fresh and processed dairy products in the Southeastern United States made by the Land-O-Sun division of Dean Foods. Many of the remaining brands once owned by Pet, Inc. are currently part of General Mills.

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

His early movies included This is My Love (1954), Men of the Fighting Lady (1954), The Seven Little Foys (1955) and The Trouble with Harry (1955).

<i>The Seven Little Foys</i> 1955 film by Melville Shavelson

The Seven Little Foys is a Technicolor in VistaVision 1955 comedy film directed by Melville Shavelson starring Bob Hope as Eddie Foy. One highlight of the film is an energetic tabletop dance showdown sequence with Bob Hope as Eddie Foy and James Cagney, who reprises his role as George M. Cohan. The story of Eddie Foy Sr. and the Seven Little Foys inspired a TV version in 1964 and a stage musical version, which premiered in 2007, in addition to this film in 1955.

<i>The Trouble with Harry</i> 1955 film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 American Technicolor black comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes was based on the 1950 novel by Jack Trevor Story. It starred Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick, Jerry Mathers and Shirley MacLaine in her film debut. The Trouble with Harry was released in the United States on September 30, 1955, then re-released in 1984 once the distribution rights had been acquired by Universal Pictures.

Leave It to Beaver

Mathers in a 1959 publicity shot Jerry Mathers 1959.JPG
Mathers in a 1959 publicity shot

Mathers states that he got the role of Beaver Cleaver after telling the show's producers he would rather be at his Cub Scout meeting than auditioning for the part. The producers found his candidness appealing and perfect for the role. [2] [4] Mathers played the Beaver for six years, appearing in all 234 episodes of the series. He was the first child actor ever to make a deal to get a percentage of the merchandising revenue from a television show. The Leave It to Beaver show still generates merchandise revenue today, many years after its original production run ended.

Cub Scouting (Boy Scouts of America)

Cub Scouting is part of the Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), available to boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade, or 5 to 10 years of age and their families. Its membership is the largest of the five main BSA divisions. Cub Scouting is part of the worldwide Scouting movement and aims to promote character development, citizenship training, personal fitness, and leadership.

The original sitcom has been shown in over 80 countries in 40 languages. Mathers has noted that the Leave It to Beaver phenomenon is worldwide. "I can go anywhere in the world, and people know me," Mathers has said. "In Japan the show's called 'The Happy Boy and His Family.' So I'll be walking through the airport in Japan, and people will come up and say, 'Hi, Happy Boy!'" [5]

When asked in a 2014 television interview whether he had known at the time of the filming of the Leave it to Beaver series that the show was special, and would be in perpetual syndication, Mathers responded: "No, not at all. I had worked since I was two years old. I did movies. I didn't do any other series, but I had done a lot of movies and things like that so, in fact, every year it was a question whether we would come back for the next year 'cause you had to be picked up. So you would do 39 shows and then we would go to New York and meet all the press, and then we'd go to Chicago to meet the ad people, then we'd come back and take about five to six weeks off, and if we got picked up, then we'd start again. So we did that for six years because that was the length of the contracts at those times. So that's why there are 39 [episodes] for six years, and then it was off the air. Not off the air, but we didn't film any new ones [after that.]" [6]

Mathers remained friends with Barbara Billingsley, who played his TV mother, June Cleaver, and remembered her after her death as "a good friend and an even better mentor. For me she was like the favorite teacher that we all had in school." [7]


In 1962, near the end of the run of Leave It to Beaver, Mathers recorded two songs for a single 45rpm: "Don't 'Cha Cry," and for the flip side, the twist ditty, "Wind-Up Toy." [8] During his high school years, Mathers had a band called Beaver and the Trappers. [9]

Later career

Jerry Mathers in US Air Force uniform Jerry Mathers.png
Jerry Mathers in US Air Force uniform

As he moved into his teenage years, Mathers retired from acting to concentrate on high school. He attended Notre Dame High School, in Sherman Oaks, California. During this time he led a musical band called Beaver and the Trappers. [2] While he was still in high school, Mathers joined the United States Air Force Reserve, in 1966. Wearing his dress uniform, Mathers and child actress Angela Cartwright presented an Emmy award to Gene Kelly in 1967. After graduating from high school in 1967, Mathers continued to serve in the Reserve and made the rank of Sergeant. [10] In December 1969, a rumor began that Mathers was killed in action in the Vietnam War. Although the origin of the rumor is unclear, [11] Mathers never saw action and was never stationed outside of the United States. [12] [13] Years later, in 1980, Mathers and Dow appeared with Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update segment, making fun of the Vietnam War death rumor. [14]

In 1973, Mathers attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. [15] He then worked as a commercial loan officer at a bank before using well-invested savings from his acting career, which began at $500 a week, [16] to begin a career in real estate development. In 1978, he reentered the entertainment industry. That year, he and Tony Dow starred in a production of the comedy play Boeing, Boeing which ran for ten weeks in Kansas City. Mathers and Dow then toured the dinner theater circuit in a production of So Long, Stanley for 18 months. In 1981, he worked as a disc jockey at KEZY-AM radio in Anaheim, California. [9]

In 1983, Mathers reprised his role in the television reunion film Still the Beaver , which also featured the majority of the original Leave It to Beaver cast. [9] The success of the television film led to the development of a sequel series of the same title. The series began airing on the Disney Channel in 1984, then went on to be picked up by TBS and broadcast syndication, where it was retitled The New Leave It to Beaver and ran until 1989. [17]

Mathers has since continued his career in films and television roles. In the 1990s, he guest starred on episodes of Parker Lewis Can't Lose , Vengeance Unlimited , Diagnosis Murder , and as himself on Married... with Children . In 1998, Mathers released his memoirs, And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver. [18]

In 2001, he appeared on a special episode of The Weakest Link titled "Child TV stars edition" where he got voted off in the first round.

On June 5, 2007, he made his Broadway debut with a starring role as Wilbur Turnblad in the Tony winning best musical Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theater. [5]

In 2018 and 2019, Mathers was seen promoting the Leave It To Beaver television series and other classic television series on the MeTV television network.

Other ventures

In 2009, Mathers became the national spokesman for PhRMA and their Partnership for Prescription Assistance program. [19]

Personal life

Mathers has been married three times. He met his first wife, Diana Platt, in college. She attended Vallejo Senior High in California; class of 1969. They married in 1974 and later divorced. [15] [20] Mathers met his second wife, Rhonda Gehring, while touring in the production of So Long, Stanley. They have three children, a son (Noah) and two daughters (Mercedes and Gretchen). Mathers and Gehring later divorced. [21] Mathers married his third wife, Teresa Modnick, in Huntington Beach on January 30, 2011. [22]


Mathers was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1996. [23] On the advice of his doctor, Mathers enrolled in a weight loss program with Jenny Craig in May 1997 and lost over 40 lb (18 kg). [18] He later became the first male spokesman for Jenny Craig. [9] He has also represented a Type 2 diabetes reversal program's publications in a television ad. [24]


1952 Son of Paleface Child at FinaleUncredited
1954 Men of the Fighting Lady Richard DodsonUncredited
1954 This Is My Love David Myer
1955 The Seven Little Foys Bryan Lincoln Foy - Age 5Uncredited
1955 The Trouble with Harry Arnie Rogers
1956That Certain FeelingNorman Taylor
1956 Bigger Than Life FreddieUncredited
1957 The Shadow on the Window Petey Atlas
1958 The Deep Six Steve InnesUncredited
1966 The Dating Game Himself
1987 Back to the Beach Judge #2
1990Down the DrainPoliceman (desk)
1994The Other ManSergeant DunAlternative title: Sexual Malice
1998Playing Patti
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Biology Teacher
2005Angels with AnglesMr. Cohiba
2008Will to PowerMr. Simpson
1952 The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Trick Or Treating ChildEpisode: "Halloween Party"
1955 Lux Video Theatre Little BoyEpisode: "The Great McGinty"
1955 General Electric Theater TommyEpisode: "Into the Night"
1955 Matinee Theater Episode: "Santa is no Saint"
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse Peter at 5Episode: "It's a Most Unusual Day"
19571963 Leave It to Beaver Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver 234 episodes
1963 Insight Episode: "The Boy and the Bomb"
1968 Batman Pop, the Stage DoormanEpisode: "The Great Escape"
1968 Lassie Ken HinesEpisode: "Lassie and the 4-H Boys"
1970 My Three Sons Joe LawrieEpisode: "Love Thy Neighbor"
1978 Flying High Chuck WallaceEpisode: "Fear of Cheesecake"
1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch and Dynamite Deputy Henry Thomas WattsTelevision film
1983 Still the Beaver Theodore "Beaver" CleaverTelevision film
19831989 The New Leave It to Beaver Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver101 episodes
1984 Hardcastle and McCormick Cameo AppearanceSeason 1; Episode 19 " The Homecoming: Part 2"
1987 The Love Boat "Beaver" CleaverEpisode: "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?"
1991 Married... with Children HimselfEpisode: "You Better Shop Around (Part 2)"
1991 Parker Lewis Can't Lose Theodore MussoEpisode: "Jerry: Portrait of a Video Junkie"
1999 Vengeance Unlimited Lucas ZimmermanEpisode: "Friends"
1999 Diagnosis: Murder Mr. LustigEpisode: "Trash TV - Part One"
2001 The Weakest Link HimselfSpecial Child TV stars edition
2006 The War at Home PrincipalEpisode: "Back to School"
2008Mother Goose ParadeTelevision film


YearAwardCategoryTitle of work
1984 Young Artist Award Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award [25] Leave It to Beaver


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  3. Foster, Barbara (March 1984). "Celebrity Update". Orange Coast Magazine. Emmis Communications: 149. ISSN   0279-0483.
  4. Jerry Mathers on auditioning for "Leave it to Beaver" video (posted in 2010)
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  11. Jerry Mathers discusses the urban myth of his "death in Vietnam" video (posted 2010)
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  14. "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, Rodney Dangerfield, 03/08/80".
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  16. Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 200–1. ISBN   0-517-54855-0.
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  22. Bersebach, Paul (January 30, 2011). "'Leave it to Beaver' star gets hitched in H.B." The Orange County Register. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  23. Trecroci, Daniel (August 1, 1999). "Jerry Mathers Leaves it to Weight Loss to Control His Diabetes". Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  24. Mathers, Jerry (January 16, 2016). Diabetes Solution Kit (Television advertisement). Barton Publishing. I'm Jerry Mathers, and if I can do it, you can do it.
  25. "6th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved March 31, 2011.