Before he was Beaver, Jerry Mathers made his TV debut in one of the earliest Halloween episodes

Mathers was just four years old when he went trick-or-treating at the Nelsons.

Read to Me

The Halloween episode is a favorite ritual of sitcoms. It's hard to find a show these days that doesn't celebrate Halloween. Heck, many of them have a special October costume-athon every season.

But, in the early days of television, the Halloween episode was not so common. Sifting through the Fifties, you come across classics like The Honeymooners' "Halloween Party" (1953) and Lassie's "The Witch" (1955). Digging deeper into the plastic pumpkin, you'll discover another "Halloween Party."

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet dressed up for its "Halloween Party" in 1952, in what is one of the earliest sitcom episodes celebrating the holiday. In our cursory research, we could not find an older one. It was just the fifth episode of Ozzie and Harriet, which would go on to air another 430 episodes over the span of 14 seasons. Ricky, sporting a skeleton bodysuit, looks shockingly young.

 

"I think Halloween is mainly a night for kids," Ozzie bemoans to his neighbor Thorny. Ricky was not the youngest kid to appear in this episode. Midway through the story, the doorbell rings at the Nelson residence. A girl and a boy stand anxiously with masks perched atop their heads and wicker baskets in their hands. "Trick or treat!" they declare.

The one on the right is none other than Jerry Mathers in his first-ever television appearance. He was still five years away from becoming Beaver on Leave It to Beaver. He was only four years old.

On his personal website, Mathers posted a story from his mother, Marilyn, who remembers bringing young Jerry to the studio for this debut gig.

"Jerry had just begun modeling and doing some live TV… One day his agent called that he was to report for work at a location fairly close to our home the next morning," she wrote. "It was early October. I dressed him in his everyday clothes and trekked the short distance to catch the big red streetcar that ran along Santa Monica Blvd."

"An assistant director called the kids to the set. There was no script. Ozzie Nelson, the director, just told them to knock on the door, and when the door opened say trick or treat," she recalled.

Perhaps little Jerry was showing off his scene-stealing improv skills, then, when he yells to his companion, "Hey, wait for me!"

Mrs. Mathers remembers the scene taking no more than 15 minutes to film. "We boarded the streetcar for home, Jerry, a very happy little chappie," she said, "with his early start on Halloween trick or treat candy."

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crazyrobert 8 days ago
Halloween a holiday? I think the only people who get it as a holiday are government employees. Of course they get National Potato Day and Moohamids birthday off too. I guess that’s the only way they can be kept from doing more stupid bureaucratic stuff, give them a lot of days off.
AgingDisgracefully 11 days ago
I've never seen the episode.
Did the Nelsons dish out good stuff - Snickers, Nestle's Crunch, M&Ms etc. - or those calcified peanut butter insults in black or orange wax paper?
Well, it proably depended on who that week's sponsor was...LOL!
stephaniestavropoulos 12 days ago
This story was as sweet as all the Halloween candy, that I think I've developed cavities!
MrsPhilHarris 12 days ago
I watch this episode every year. Also listen to the old time radio version as well. 🎃👻


justjeff 12 days ago
Another fun fact, Jerry appears as Arnie Rogers [Shirley MacLaine's character's son] in the Alfred Hitchcock Dramedy "The Trouble with Harry"...
cperrynaples justjeff 12 days ago
Yes, his reaction to "Harry" is great! This is proably the most family-friendly Hitchcock and can be seen on Peacock!
cperrynaples 12 days ago
Fun Fact: He also played Little Ricky in a dream sequence on Lucy!
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Wiseguy cperrynaples 8 days ago
Why can't you just believe what the actor says? Why would he lie? Shouldn't he know?
cperrynaples texasluva 8 days ago
So are you saying Jimmy was Little Ricky? BTW, no one has commented on my post about the METV commercial where old Beaver calls young Wally! Look for it on another page, as the sponsors used to say when they bought commercials on 2 networks!
texasluva cperrynaples 8 days ago
No. I just put the pic up for fun. Plus guess the board game. It was a 1960 photo of the Mather family. The guess which one is Beaver only made because they look pretty much the same. Jimmy was not born until 1955.
cperrynaples texasluva 8 days ago
I figured out The Game Of Life, updated but still sold! Bonus Question: What popular TV star "wholeheartedly endorsed" this game? Hint: Believe it or not, he let Bill Cosby take over one of his shows!
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