Barbara Billingsley didn't think playing June Cleaver would be a lifelong career

The actress had no regrets and loved her career, but it was secondary to raising her children.

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"Leave It to June" would've been the perfect name for a spin-off of Leave It to Beaver centered around June Cleaver.

She was the mom everyone wished they had, even though she was a fictional character. Played by Barbara Billingsley, the role became a classic. It was also heavily influential, and many couldn't see Billingsley as anyone else.

So, instead of being just a credit, it became a legacy for the actress. "I didn't know that June would be a lifelong career," she said in a 1989 interview with The Tampa Tribune. "But people are always coming up to me and telling me that they wished their mom was like me or that I remind them of their mothers."

She added, "No one seems to understand that we had writers. I was a working mother who was only acting. I had two sons at home."

Not only did Billingsley portray the character perfectly, but her attire made the part come alive even more. It was something viewers would point out a lot.

"People always ask me why June wore pearls and high heels in the kitchen," she revealed. "It was just something the writers started. We were a well-dressed family. Ward always wore a tie to dinner, too."

Billingsley often spoke positively about Leave It to Beaver and her role, though Wally and Beaver took a backseat to her real-life sons.

"I have no regrets. I loved my career. I loved being a mother and a wife, too. Really, my career was secondary to raising my children." Billingsley's sons, Glenn and Drew, visited the set occasionally and knew everyone on the show. Yet, their classmates were more impressed about their mom being on television than they were.

Since so many viewers claimed they learned a lot from Mrs. Cleaver, people wondered if Billingsley's real children did too. She responded," I don't know if they learned anything from June, except maybe how to chop vegetables. That's about all she ever did on camera."

While we won't see what a June spin-off would've been like, there's no doubt that June Cleaver left a lifelong impression on classic TV fans.

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BuzzFranklin 11 months ago
Can not watch Leave It To Beaver, or any METV show. Dish Network removed it from their lineup. This sucks!!!
SRN 11 months ago
I detest Ward and June Cleaver!
Ward had that outdated "boys will be boys" attitude towards his sons' antics, UNLESS a possession of his is damaged or he's made to look foolish in public.
THEN he lets loose with a tongue-lashing that cows the boys so badly that they're afraid to confide their problems to him.
As for June, she's the prototype of the "helicopter" parent, always clutching her pearls over any scrape the boys get into, or any plans they might have.
Can you just imagine what her reaction would be when Wally gets his draft notice?
First, she'll tell Ward to talk to the recruiting officer and try to keep Wally out of the army. And when Ward refuses, she'll be worrying day and night--especially if deployed overseas.
Another thing I hate about them is their continual turning a blind eye to Eddie Haskell's constant bullying of Beaver! Any other parent would have told Eddie to ever come into their home.
CoreyC 11 months ago
June Cleaver was the perfect model of the 1950's housewife and mother. She obediently follows Ward and overprotective to the boys. That is why Barbara Billingsley's appearance in Airplane was so funny as the old lady speaking jive.
raddad 11 months ago
She supposedly wore the pearls to hide a hollow in her neck . And the heels were needed so she would be taller than Wally and Beaver as they grew.
Runeshaper 11 months ago
A great actress who portrayed a great character.
Andybandit 11 months ago
Barbara was great as June Cleaver. It is funny how the housewives dressed in the 50's and 60's. Just to stay home and clean the house, and take care of the kids.
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
"Leave It to June" would've been the perfect name for a spin-off.
Not June but a you tube poster (had/has) created several clips, (7 minutes or so) called:
"Leave it to Wally." with scenes from the series.
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"People always ask me why June wore "pearls" and high heels in the kitchen," she revealed. "It was just something the writers started."
Not the high heels- but several websites had published that Mrs. Billingsley said she wore pearls to cover a hollow in her neck.
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" Really, my career was secondary to raising my children." Billingsley's sons, Glenn and Drew."
According to several articles:
" Glenn Jr and Drew Billingsley worked at their Fathers restaurant most of their teenage years. In 1969 they opened their first Billingsley's Restaurant in Van Nuys. The famous Billingsley's closed in 2004, However the building is still there as of December 2022.
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From several interviews Barbara Billingsley has done, she placed priority on her family. Always enjoyable seeing her in numerous TV/Film appearances credited or not.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
I agree with all your quotes because you're always accurate in your research. And wiki does list she was married 3 times.

In the day she might've been misquoted. Or maybe researchers rushed their own conclusions. But I do remember it being said that she worked as a "single" mother.

Maybe she felt that way, or maybe she was trying to sound like a responsible parent who wouldn't have worked unless it was necessary. In that day, average moms (like the ones portrayed in the Series) didn't usually work unless they felt it necessary. One reason was because most households only had one car. And there was no one else to take care of all the household chores.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 11 months ago
I agree with all your quotes because you're always accurate in your research
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Thank You for those kind words, I try to be accurate, however I'm sure there are times we all are not 100%. I agree on the wikipedia part for a starting point, they usually have a good amount of information on the whole, however and I know it takes extra time I try to research it further and get as close to the original source as possible.

I must also compliment you, as you do a good amount of research on Story and Quiz topics as to provide accurate information as well. A lot of times you have provided links to information that I never even thought of. There are also a good number of users here as well that do the same. Were a combined collective think tank. Have to give the MeTv staff/Writers credit for sending us all down these rabbit holes to increase our knowledge. Thank You MeTV Staff.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
😉😉TY
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I guess it came to mind, because in the day, there weren't all these sources we have now. Mainly TV Guide & Movie Rags. It made me wonder, how could she be a busy mother, with all those studio hours too. Also, studios kept a watchful eye over the image their Stars were projecting. Maybe being married 3 times was questioned, though being a widow twice was no easy feat either. But am glad she found opportunities to spend her life with another. The sons working for the father's restaurant business was enlightening. Doesn't sound like they had much family time available except for hiatus; running a restaurant is a grueling 12 hour a day proposition for some!
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