For Ken Osmond, playing a Haskell became a family affair
The actor was proud to be known as Eddie Haskell.
Have you ever seen an actor play a villain, and they're just a little bit too good at it? The kind of performance that gives you a sneaking suspicion that maybe it's not all just raw theatrical talent and maybe, just maybe, that person is a villain in real life? If not, good on you for not judging others. But for the rest of us judgers, perhaps you might have felt that way about one Eddie Haskell in Leave It to Beaver, played by Ken Osmond. No, Eddie wasn't evil per se, but during the series, he achieved a level of two-facedness that rivaled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. To be such a believable little twerp may stir up thoughts and feelings that perhaps Osmond wasn't "acting" as much as he seemed.
Well, viewers may rest easy knowing that Ken Osmond is nothing like Eddie Haskell, a reassurance from Eddie himself. Osmond felt that he was similar to a favorite Leave It to Beaver character. It just wasn't sweet Eddie. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Osmond revealed, "My life is much closer to Ward Cleaver's." He continued, "I'm very domestic, and I'm still in my first marriage. Sandi and I are going on 18 years now."
It's certainly not helpful that being a Haskell is apparently a family trait. On The New Leave It to Beaver, Osmond's son Eric landed the role of Freddie Haskell, Eddie's son. This wasn't necessarily intentional on the part of Osmond. He explained, "It was sheer chance that Eric got the role. Brian Levant [the executive producer] was interviewing boys for the role, and he remembered that I had a son about the right age. Eric auditioned, and he was called back." Still, little Osmond was helped along with the audition process by his father, who reportedly taught him the signature Haskell cackle. Osmond concluded, "After he survived six or seven more interviews, he got the part." So maybe Eddie Haskell is in Osmond's blood more than he initially realized, and boy aren't we glad!
Still, Osmond doesn't necessarily mind if viewers keep that animosity for Eddie Haskell. He commented, "If people don't hate me, then I'm not doing my job. Everybody knows an Eddie. There was one on your block." Osmond also revealed that while Eddie was a larger-than-life character, it took a while for him to reach that level. He said, "The character developed over a period of six years." Still, Osmond was aware that although he's not as much like Eddie Haskell as we might have thought, the two boys are linked forever. He concluded, "About two or three years ago, people on the street started getting my name right. They started calling me Ken Osmond instead of Eddie Haskell."