See the adorable start of Sixties child stars in early roles they played before they were famous

Ever wonder what happened before Beaver met Wally?

In the Sixties, we spent a lot of time watching TV kids like Beaver Cleaver, Cindy Brady and Opie Taylor. It was an era that seemed to build upon the most successful family sitcoms of the 1950s and really find their lanes in terms of character development, casting and the stuff that makes certain family shows just magically work.

Once a family sitcom becomes a hit, oftentimes its youngest stars become its biggest names, and this rapid rise to fame can manage to eclipse the earlier work these young actors did on shows before they became famous on their own later hits.

Here, we've gone back through TV history to find earlier roles of iconic Sixties child stars to get a glimpse at these youngin's just before they made it.

1. Jerry Mathers on I Love Lucy in 1953

Leave It to Beaver premiere: 1957

Four years before we met Beaver Cleaver, Jerry Mathers played a very small part in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy called "Ricky's Old Girlfriend." The episode sees Lucy paranoid that Ricky will fall back in love with an old flame who dances her way back to town during the episode. Throughout, Lucy has funny dream sequences that tantalize her jealous instincts, including one where she imagines herself an abandoned mother of a grown-up Little Ricky. For this episode, Jerry Mathers played the dream version of Little Ricky.

Of course, Richard Keith ended up playing the real version of Little Ricky when he got to that age. Here's a story any Little Ricky fan would love where Keith explains the difference backstage of Lucy's show and The Andy Griffith Show.

2. Bill Mumy on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1961

Lost in Space premiere: 1965

Most folks were first introduced to Billy Mumy not on Lost in Space but in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone called "Long Distance Call." That same year, he'd do "It's a Good Life," portraying his second most famous character in the eerie Anthony Fremont. But also that year, don't forget that Mumy was also a Hitchcock muse in a much more horrific episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called "Bang! You're Dead." As Jackie Chester, Mumy portrayed a 5-year-old who has no idea the gun he's playing with in public is actually loaded.

3. Ron Howard on The Twilight Zone in 1959

The Andy Griffith Show premiere: 1960

Almost exactly a year before The Andy Griffith Show premiered and introduced us to Opie Taylor, Ron Howard also famously featured in an episode of The Twilight Zone. In "Walking Distance," Howard, unsurprisingly, plays a small town boy who knows everybody in town and definitely doesn't know the star of the episode, who claims to have grown up in the house across the street. It's a bit part as pint-sized as young Howard, but adorable in the otherwise eerie realm.

4. Butch Patrick on The Untouchables in 1962

The Munsters premiere: 1964

Butch Patrick's career kicked off way before The Munster Koach rolled into our lives, with a string of guest roles starting in 1961, including a memorable recurring role on My Three Sons as Gordon Dearing. But one of our favorite early, overlooked moments in Patrick's early TV beginnings was this moment in The Untouchables episode "The Night They Shot Santa Claus." Patrick plays a stubborn orphan who toughly refuses to talk to Eliot Ness about the man who played Santa in his orphanage. He fits right into the show with all that attitude.

5. Don Grady on The Restless Gun in 1959

My Three Sons premiere: 1960

Don Grady was 16 when My Three Sons premiered, casting him as one of Fred MacMurray's original batch of three boys. The young actor actually started appearing on TV in 1957 on the short-lived series that would have launched his eventual TV brother Tim Considine's career, The New Adventures of Spin and Marty (Considine played "Spin").

But it was the Western The Restless Gun that gave Grady perhaps his biggest shot outside the Mouseketeers before My Three Sons came along. Grady featured in two episodes before becoming the title star of the 1959 episode "The Cavis Boy," where he must work with Vint Bonner to prove his father's innocence in the short time before his dad is set to be hanged.

6. Maureen McCormick on Bewitched in 1964

The Brady Bunch premiere: 1969

Th every first time Maureen McCormick appeared on TV was five years before we met Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. On Bewitched, she played the younger version of Endora, twice! (Who knew the famous TV daughter actually started as a famous sitcom mom?) We bet if Young Endora could wiggle her nose on The Brady Bunch, she'd have stopped that football before it managed to throw off her date night.

7. Barry Williams on Dragnet 1967 in 1967

The Brady Bunch premiere: 1969

A 13-year-old Barry Williams could be seen if you tuned into "The Christmas Story" episode of Dragnet 1967. In the episode, Williams plays a super-polite kid called John Heffernan, who calmly explains to Sergeant Joe Friday that his dad believes any kid who uses the phone to communicate is lazy. How much do you think Marcia or Peter would have loved to use that logic to get Greg off the phone in the last season of The Brady Bunch? (Take this quiz to find out how much you really remember about Greg Brady!)

8. Susan Olsen on Julia in 1968

The Brady Bunch premiere: 1969

We saw Susan Olsen appear on TV in pigtails and bows with those big blue eyes nearly a year before The Brady Bunch premiered. In the Julia episode "Paint Your Waggedorn," little Susan appears as a playmate for Julia's son Corey and his best friend Earl, showing up with the brilliant suggestion of playing house instead of those "ruffian games" the boys usually play.

9. Eve Plumb on The Big Valley in 1966

The Brady Bunch premiere: 1969

Eve Plumb was a pretty active little actor before she became everyone's favorite middle child. On The Big Valley, we watched her give a dramatic performance three times, with her first in the 1966 episode "Hide the Children." She played a troubled girl named Sara Jane who is in dire need of rescue. (If only Jan knew how much worse off things could be! Take this quiz to find out how much you really remember about Jan Brady!)

10. Christopher Knight on Mannix in 1967

The Brady Bunch premiere: 1969

On The Brady Bunch, Mike and Carol lovingly share custody of their brood of kids, but on Christopher Knight's TV debut on Mannix, he was actually at the center of a custody battle in "Coffin for a Clown." A sudden twist reveals that not only is Knight's dad battling his former wife, but also fighting off the mob. That's a lot more drama than a measley broken vase!

See also: See The Brady Bunch kids grow up in photos from the first and last episode

Flip photos to watch the Brady kids grow up in a flash. READ MORE.

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SalIanni 4 months ago
I remember seeing these kids in other series "before they were stars" in different roles than the ones mentioned in the article:

Jerry Mathers - Ozzie and Harriet - "Halloween Party" - Jerry played a trick or treater that shows up at Ozzie's house for Halloween.

Bill Mumy - Bewitched - "A Vision Of Sugar Plums" - Bill played an orphan who refuses to believe in Santa Claus until Samantha takes him on a personal visit to the North Pole.

Ron Howard - First known as Ronny, he appeared in the first season of both "Dennis The Menace" and "Dobie Gillis" in 1959, a year before he became Opie.

Maureen McCormick - She appeared twice on Bewitched, once as a young Endora and also in a fantasy sequence where she plays one of Darrin and Samantha's children. She also was in "My Three Sons" in the episode "Ernie The Bluebeard" where she gives Ernie his first kiss!

Eve Plumb - She appeared in the classic "Family Affair" episode "Christmas Came A Little Early" where she played a classmate of Buffy and Jody, also named Eve, who has an incurable disease and because of this the Davis family give her a special early Christmas party.
ETristanBooth 4 months ago
Maureen McCormick did not play Samantha's mother twice. In one of those episodes she played one of Samantha's children (named after Endora) in a dream sequence.
ELEANOR 4 months ago
That Dragnet show was a real turning point for Barry Williams. Jack Webb remembered him and requested that "Egghead Kid" for Adam-12 and his career was off and running.
Corey 5 months ago
Maureen McCormick played a girlfriend on My Three Sons.
SheriHeffner 5 months ago
Susan was a mean little girl on Julia. And Eve played a school mate of Buffy's on a tear jerking episode of family Affair.
BrendaGast 5 months ago
Jerry Mathers has said time and again that that is NOT him nor was he ever on I Love Lucy.
DeborahRoberts BrendaGast 5 months ago
Thank you! That kid in Lucy's lap doesn't look anything like Jerry Mathers--his head is the wrong shape. Now I know why!
I didn't think that looked like Jerry Mathers. This boy looks NOTHING like cute little Jerry. If you want to see Jerry in an earlier role watch The Seven Little Foy's, he plays a young Bryan Foy when a fire breaks out at a theater his father played by Bob Hope.
I meant to say where his father played. Eddie Foy, played by Bob Hope. Jerry was five I think when he played in the movie.
I went to check and see if I could find out who it was, found out his role is "uncredited." As you {probably} know, during the closing credits, instead of listing the guest stars a voiceover could be heard saying so and so appeared as so and so. I wonder if that's the case with who played LR? I'll have to check. But if the info.'s correct and he's uncredited, theanh his name will not be heard during the closing credits.
MrsPhilHarris BrendaGast 5 months ago
The kid looks too big to be Jerry in '57. Btw Jerry played a trick or treater on Ozzy & Harriet.
Stephanie, that photo looks digital! Could someone watch that episode and see? The first credited Mathers role was as Shirley McClaine's son in "The Trouble With Harry" a great black comedy directed by Hitchcock!
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