7 reasons we still adore Jerry Mathers
He's done so much more than play America's favorite child.
Image: Wikipedia, Associated Press
Leave It to Beaver was one of the defining television shows of the 1950s, laying the foundation for the traditional family sitcom for decades to come. Although each actor played a critical role in the series, we wouldn't have the Leave It to Beaver we know today without the Beaver himself, Jerry Mathers.
At the age of nine, Mathers won the role of Theodore Cleaver because of his innocent nature and candid attitude, telling the producers he's rather be at a cub scout meeting than the audition. Just like the producers, television audiences fell in love with the precocious kid.
All these years later, and people around the world are still fond of Mathers and the role he made famous. Here are a few things you might not have known about Jerry Mathers.
1. He's the first child actor to receive royalties.
At a time when even adult actors failed to secure royalties from the shows they appeared on, Mathers' team managed to lock in a deal that guaranteed him royalties from merchandizing Leave It to Beaver. However, Mathers told Regis Philbin in 2007 that he no longer is getting paid for the show.
2. His career started at the age of two.
Mathers has been acting almost as long as he's been alive. At the age of two, his first television appearance was in a Pet Condensed Milk ad. Throughout the 1950s, Mathers had guest roles on television shows like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet and I Love Lucy.
3. He joined the Air Force National Guard.
After Leave It to Beaver wrapped in 1963, Mathers left Hollywood to attend high school. When he graduated, he enlisted in the army and served in the Air Force National Guard from 1967 to 1969.
Mathers also made sure to obtain a higher education, getting his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1973.
4. No, he didn't die in Vietnam.
In the late 1960s, after Mathers had finished his time in the National Guard, a rumor began to surface that he had been killed during the conflict in Vietnam. It's unclear how it started, but Mathers was far removed from the action taking place in Southeast Asia. During his time in the Army, he was only stationed within the United States.
5. He reprised his most famous role in the 1980s.
Mathers wasn't completely done with acting after his time in college. In 1983, the actor once again became Beaver Cleaver in the TV movie Still the Beaver. The film's popularity inspired TBS to create the show The New Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1984 to 1989 in syndication and starred original cast members Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow.
6. He's still acting.
Since the revival ended, Mathers has mainly appeared on TV shows and movies in guest spots. More recently, he appeared on Broadway as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray. Last year, he filmed a pilot for a series called Dad Dudes, which was inspired by the popular YouTube channel.
Image: Dad Dudes
7. He's worn many hats.
Mathers has been an actor, scholar and soldier, but that's not even half of his incredibly robust resumé. He started successful banking and real estate businesses thanks to the earnings he invested from Leave It to Beaver. He also started a few charities, became a spokesperson for diabetes and even owned a catering company in the late 1990s. Is there anything this man can't do?
Image: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes