Leave It to Beaver

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Leave It to Beaver
Season one title screen
GenreSitcom, children's television series
Created by Joe Connelly
Bob Mosher
Theme music composerDavid Kahn
Melvyn Leonard
Mort Greene
Opening theme"The Toy Parade"
Composers Pete Rugolo (1957–62)
Paul Smith (1962–63)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes234 (list of episodes)
ProducersJoe Connelly
Bob Mosher
Production locations Republic Studios
Universal Studios
Los Angeles
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companies Revue Studios
Gomalco Productions
(seasons 1–4)
Kayro Productions
(seasons 5–6)
Original network CBS (1957–58)
ABC (1958–63)
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 4, 1957 (1957-10-04) 
June 20, 1963 (1963-06-20)
Still the Beaver
The New Leave It to Beaver
Leave It to Beaver (1997 film)

Leave It to Beaver is an American television situation comedy that follows the misadventures of a suburban boy, his family and his friends. It stars Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers ("as The Beaver", as the opening credits put it).


CBS first broadcast the show on October 4, 1957, but dropped it after one season. ABC picked it up and aired it for another five years, from October 2, 1958, to June 20, 1963. It proved to be a scheduling challenge for both networks, airing on four different evenings (Wednesday through Saturday) throughout its run. [1] The series was produced by Gomalco Productions from 1957 to 1961, and then by Kayro Productions from 1961 to 1963. It was distributed by Revue Studios.

Leave It to Beaver never broke into the Nielsen Ratings top 30 in its six-season run. However, it proved to be much more popular in reruns. It also led to an unsuccessful 1997 film of the same name.


The show is built around young Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) and the trouble he gets himself into while navigating an often-incomprehensible, sometimes illogical world. Supposedly, when he was a baby, his older brother Wallace "Wally" (Tony Dow) mispronounced "Theodore" as "Tweedor". Their firm-but-loving parents, Ward (Hugh Beaumont) and June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley), felt "Beaver" sounded better. Conversely, Mathers has said that the real reason for the name "Beaver" is that one of the show's writers, Joe Connelly, had a shipmate named "The Beaver" in World War II; from that came the family's name, "Cleaver." [2]

Beaver's friends include the perpetually apple-munching Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens) in the early seasons, and, later, Gilbert Bates (Stephen Talbot), as well as the old fireman, Gus (Burt Mustin). His sweet-natured-but-no-nonsense elementary school teachers are Miss Canfield (to whom Beaver declares his love in the episode entitled "Beaver's Crush") (Diane Brewster), Miss Landers (Sue Randall) and Mrs. Rayburn (Doris Packer), the school's principal. In the early seasons, Beaver's nemesis in class is Judy Hensler (Jeri Weil).

In its first season, Beaver's brother Wally was in eighth grade and 13 years old, while Beaver was 7 and in second grade--a six-year age difference; in real life, the two actors were only three years apart. By the series' end, the boys were inexplicably only four years apart, with Wally graduating from high school and Beaver graduating from grammar school. Wally is popular with both peers and adults, getting into trouble much less frequently than some of the other characters. He letters in three sports. He has little difficulty attracting girlfriends, among them Mary Ellen Rogers (Pamela Baird) and Julie Foster (Cheryl Holdridge). His pals include the awkward Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford (Frank Bank) and smart aleck Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), the archetype of the two-faced wise guy, a braggart among his peers and an obsequious yes man to the adults he mocks behind their backs. Eddie often picks on the Beaver.

The family lives in the fictional town of Mayfield. Beaver attends Grant Ave. Grammar School, and Wally, Mayfield High School (after graduating from Grant Ave. in season one).


Main characters

Supporting characters


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Pilot April 23, 1957
1 39October 4, 1957July 16, 1958
2 39October 2, 1958June 25, 1959
3 39October 3, 1959June 25, 1960
4 39October 1, 1960June 24, 1961
5 39September 30, 1961June 30, 1962
6 39September 27, 1962June 20, 1963

The pilot, titled "It's a Small World", aired on April 23, 1957. [4] [5] It featured Max Showalter (credited as Casey Adams) as Ward Cleaver, and Paul Sullivan as Wally Cleaver. TBS re-aired the pilot on October 4, 1987, to commemorate the show's 30th anniversary. TV Land re-aired it on October 6, 2007, as part of their twenty-four-hour marathon to commemorate the show's 50th anniversary. [6] It is also available as a bonus episode on the season-one DVD. 234 episodes followed.

A voice-over by Hugh Beaumont precedes each episode in the first season, providing a background to that episode's theme, though these are omitted in airings on TV Land.

Opening titles

Season one: The characters are not shown. A drawing of a street, viewed from above, displays the credits in wet concrete.

Season two: Ward and June, standing at the bottom of the stairs, see the boys off to school as they come down the stairs and exit the front door.

Season three: Ward and June enter the boys' bedroom to wake them.

Season four: Ward and June open the front door and stand on the stoop. As Wally, followed by Beaver, leave for school, June hands them their lunches; Ward gives them their jackets.

Season five: June takes refreshments to the men in the front yard.

Season six: June, carrying a picnic basket, walks from the front door towards the car. Ward, carrying another item for the picnic, is next, followed in quick succession by Wally. Beaver, lagging behind, runs out, slamming the door behind him. Ward, with June in the passenger seat and the boys in back, then reverses toward the camera.

Musical theme

The show's playfully-bouncy theme tune, which became as much of a show trademark as Beaver's baseball cap or Eddie Haskell's false obsequiousness, was "The Toy Parade," composed by David Kahn, Melvyn Leonard, and Mort Greene. For the final season, however, the song was given a jazz-like arrangement by veteran composer / arranger Pete Rugolo.


Reruns of the show became part of CBS affiliates' lineups in the mornings for several years to come. TBS showed it for many years in the late 1980s, and it currently airs on TV Land where it has been shown since July 1998. Today, NBC Universal Television owns the syndication rights and all properties related to the series.


A made-for-television reunion movie, Still the Beaver, appeared in 1983. The main original cast appeared, except for Beaumont, who had died the previous year. Ward Cleaver was still a presence, however: the film's story used numerous flashbacks to the original show, as it followed young-adult Beaver's struggle to reconcile divorce and newly minted single fatherhood, straining to cope with what his father might or might not have done, as he faces the possibility of his widowed mother selling their childhood home. June Cleaver is later elected to the Mayfield City Council.

Its reception led to a new first-run, made-for-cable series, The New Leave It to Beaver (19851989), with Beaver and Lumpy Rutherford running Ward's old firm (where Lumpy's pompous, demanding father played by Richard Deacon in the original series had been the senior partner), Wally as a practicing attorney and expectant father, June having sold the old house to Beaver himself but living with him as a doting grandmother to Beaver's two young sons. Eddie Haskell runs his own contracting business and has a son, Freddie, who is every inch his father's son right down to the dual-personality.

Feature film

1997's movie adaptation of the series starred Christopher McDonald as Ward, Janine Turner as June, Erik von Detten as Wally, and Cameron Finley as Beaver. It was panned by many critics, except for Roger Ebert, who gave it a three-star rating. It performed poorly at the box office, earning only $11,713,605[ citation needed ]. Barbara Billingsley, Ken Osmond and Frank Bank made cameo appearances in the film.


The Cleavers moved from 485 Mapleton Drive to 211 Pine Street, both in Mayfield, for the start of season three. In 1969, the house was reused for another Universal-produced television hit, Marcus Welby, M.D. This house can still be seen at Universal Studios, though the original façade was replaced in 1988 for the following year's The 'Burbs and sits in storage elsewhere on the Universal lot. The façade was replaced again for the 1996 Leave It to Beaver movie.

Home media

Universal Studios released the first two seasons of Leave It to Beaver on DVD in Region 1 in 2005/2006.

On January 26, 2010, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series (under license from Universal). They subsequently released the remaining seasons on DVD as well as a complete series box set. [7]

On January 31, 2012, Shout! Factory released a 20 episode best-of set titled Leave It to Beaver: 20 Timeless Episodes. [8]

DVD nameEp #Release dateRef(s)
The Complete First Season39November 22, 2005 [9]
The Complete Second Season39May 2, 2006 [10]
Season Three39June 15, 2010 [11]
Season Four39September 14, 2010 [12]
Season Five39December 14, 2010 [13]
Season Six39March 1, 2011 [14]
The Complete Series234June 29, 2010 [15]

Urban legends

In the mid 1970s, Mathers appeared on The Tomorrow Show hosted by Tom Snyder. Snyder pointed out that Mathers had not worked for a long time and that there was rumor going around that he had been killed "in the war in Southeast Asia". Mathers replied that he heard that rumor and he had no idea how it started. The earliest appearance of the story in print was in a student newspaper at the University of Kansas in 1972. The author later admitted she only heard the story from someone who heard it at a party in Omaha, Nebraska earlier that year. The paper printed a retraction, but by then the story had spread throughout the U.S. The story was later attributed to a member of a defunct Omaha comedy improv group whose hobby was concocting outrageous stories and then convincing people they were true. "Beaver died in Vietnam" was a classic urban legend, memorable for its juxtaposition of idyllic 1950s imagery with the chaos and violence of the late 1960s. [16]

Another urban legend was that actor Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) became porn star John Holmes. Holmes took Osmond's name and did several movies satirically under the name "Eddie Haskell". It started because there was some facial resemblance between the two men, which porn distributors exploited by using the name Eddie Haskell in advertising Holmes's films. "It was a pain in my butt for eleven years," says Osmond, [17] who brought a $25 million defamation suit against porn houses, producers and distributors. The suit went all the way to the California Supreme Court. The court ruled for Holmes, saying the name was protected as a satire. This case set a precedent in the matter, and is still referred to in other cases in California today. [18]


  1. "Leave It to Beaver". TV.com. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "'I've Had a Charmed Life'". Parade. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  3. "GMA Time Machine - "Leave It to Beaver" is 50 (5 min. 36 sec. video clip)". ABC News. October 4, 2007.
  4. Orlick, Peter. Leave It to Beaver Archived February 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine . Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  5. Mathers, Jerry (1998). ...and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver. Berkley Boulevard Books. ISBN   0425163709.
  6. "Episodes of Leave It to Beaver Marathon - TV Land.com". Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  7. "Leave It to Beaver DVD news: Date Change for Leave It to Beaver - The Complete Series". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010.
  8. "Leave It to Beaver DVD news: Box Art for Leave It to Beaver - 20 Timeless Episodes". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on January 14, 2012.
  9. "Leave It To Beaver: The Complete First Season (DVD 1957) - DVD Empire".
  10. "Leave It To Beaver: The Complete Second Season (DVD 1958) - DVD Empire".
  11. "Leave It To Beaver: Season Three (DVD 1959) - DVD Empire".
  12. "Leave It To Beaver: Season Four (DVD 1960) - DVD Empire".
  13. "Leave It To Beaver: Season Five (DVD 1961) - DVD Empire".
  14. "Leave It To Beaver: Season Six (DVD 1962) - DVD Empire".
  15. "Leave It To Beaver: The Complete Series (DVD 2010) - DVD Empire".
  16. "Jerry 'Beaver' Mathers Killed in Vietnam?". Snopes.com. April 11, 1999. Archived from the original on December 16, 2022. Retrieved December 15, 2022.
  17. Barnes, Mike (May 18, 2020). "Ken Osmond, the Mischievous Eddie Haskell on 'Leave It to Beaver,' Dies at 76". www.hollywoodreporter.com.
  18. "Osmond v. EWAP, Inc". Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California. March 28, 1984.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">June Cleaver</span> Fictional character

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 second 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jerry Mathers</span> American actor (born 1948)

Gerald Patrick Mathers is an American actor best known for his role in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, originally broadcast from 1957 to 1963. He played the protagonist Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, the younger son of the suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver and the younger brother of Wally Cleaver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barbara Billingsley</span> American actress (1915–2010)

Barbara Billingsley was an American actress. She began her career with uncredited roles in Three Guys Named Mike (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Invaders from Mars (1953), and was featured in the 1957 film The Careless Years opposite Natalie Trundy. She then appeared in recurring TV roles, such as The Brothers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ward Cleaver</span> Fictional character in an American television series

Ward Cleaver Jr. is a fictional character in the American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. Ward and his wife, June, are often invoked as archetypal suburban parents of the 1950s baby boomers. At the start of the show, the couple are the parents of Wally, a 13-year-old in the eighth grade, and seven-year-old second-grader Theodore, nicknamed "The Beaver". A typical episode from Leave It to Beaver follows a misadventure committed by one or both of the boys, and ends with the culprits receiving a moral lecture from their father and a hot meal from their mother.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eddie Haskell</span> Character in Leave It to Beaver

Edward Clark Haskell is a fictional character on the American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, which ran on CBS from October 4, 1957, to 1958 and on ABC from 1958 to 1963. He was played by Ken Osmond. The character was also featured in the later series Still the Beaver, and in the film remake of the original series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ken Osmond</span> American actor and police officer (1943–2020)

Kenneth Charles Osmond was an American actor and police officer. Beginning a career as a child actor at the age of four, Osmond played the role of Eddie Haskell on the late 1950s to early 1960s television situation comedy Leave It to Beaver and reprised it on the 1980s revival series The New Leave It to Beaver. Typecast by the role, he found it hard to get other acting work and became a Los Angeles police officer. After retiring from police work, he resumed his acting career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tony Dow</span> American actor, film director and film producer (1945–2022)

Anthony Lee Dow was an American actor, film producer, director and sculptor. He portrayed Wally Cleaver in the iconic television sitcom Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1963. From 1983 to 1989, Dow reprised his role as Wally in a television movie and in The New Leave It to Beaver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wally Cleaver</span> Fictional character

Wallace "Wally" Cleaver is a fictional character in the iconic American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. Wally is the thirteen-year-old son of archetypal 1950s suburban parents, Ward and June Cleaver and the older brother of the seven-year-old title character, Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. The characters grew older along with the actors.

<i>The New Leave It to Beaver</i> American television series

The New Leave It to Beaver is an American sitcom sequel to the original 1957–1963 sitcom Leave It to Beaver. The series began with the 1983 reunion television movie Still the Beaver that aired on CBS in March 1983. The success of the television movie prompted the creation of a revival series, also titled Still the Beaver, that aired on The Disney Channel from 1984 to 1985. In 1986, the series was picked up by TBS, where it aired until June 1989. The show also concurrently ran in first-run syndication for the 1988-89 season.

<i>Leave It to Beaver</i> (film) 1997 film by Andy Cadiff

Leave It to Beaver is a 1997 American comedy film based on the television series of the same name. Many in-jokes and sub-plots relating to the series are adapted for the film. It features many of the original regular characters, most played by new actors, with some cameos by the original TV cast. Universal Pictures released it on August 22, 1997.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beaver Cleaver</span> Fictional character

Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver is the fictional title character in the American television series Leave It to Beaver. Originally played by Jerry Mathers, Beaver is the son of June and Ward Cleaver and the brother of Wally Cleaver.

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Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford is a fictional character in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. The show aired from October 4, 1957 to June 20, 1963. Lumpy is a bit of a bully and, with Eddie Haskell, is one of Wally Cleaver's friends.

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Frederick "Fred" Rutherford is a fictional character in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. The show aired October 4, 1957 to June 20, 1963. Fred is portrayed by Richard Deacon. Alan Rachins played the character in the 1997 film adaptation of the series, Leave It to Beaver.

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Larry Mondello is a fictional character from the iconic American television series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963). He is portrayed by child actor Robert "Rusty" Stevens. Larry Mondello appears in 68 of the show's 234 episodes over the first few seasons. Although Larry is mentioned in the premiere episode, "Beaver Gets 'Spelled", it is not until the eighth episode, "Beaver's Crush", that he actually makes an appearance.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beaver Gets 'Spelled</span> 1st episode of the 1st season of Leave It to Beaver

"Beaver Gets 'Spelled" is the premiere episode of the iconic American television series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963). The episode aired on CBS on October 4, 1957. The episode is the first episode in the first season, and the first episode in the complete series. "Beaver Gets 'Spelled" is available on DVD.

Its a Small World (<i>Leave It to Beaver</i>) Episode of Leave It to Beaver

"It's a Small World" is the pilot episode from the iconic American television series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963). The pilot was first televised April 23, 1957, on the syndicated anthology series, Studio 57, without a laugh track nor the series' well known theme song, "The Toy Parade". It never aired as an episode within the series. Following its April 1957 telecast, the episode was subsequently misplaced and was feared lost until a copy was found in a film vault in Illinois. After rediscovery, it was aired as the third-season premiere for the 1980s TBS revival series The New Leave It to Beaver on October 4, 1987, exactly 30 years after the original series officially premiered on CBS. It was televised again in October 2007 as part of TV Land's 50th anniversary celebration of Leave It to Beaver. It was released to DVD in 2005. The series made its CBS debut several months later on October 4, 1957, with the episode, "Beaver Gets 'Spelled".

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Martha Bronson is a fictional recurring character in the American television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. "Aunt Martha," as she is known in the series, appears in five of the show's 234 episodes and is mentioned occasionally but not seen. The character is portrayed by Madge Kennedy.

The fifth season of the American television series Leave It to Beaver aired from September 30, 1961 to June 30, 1962 on ABC. It consisted of 39 black-and-white episodes, each running approximately 25 minutes.