Bob Hope saved Jerry Mathers' life
The two worked on a dangerous movie in 1955.
Sometimes it feels like every Beaver story has already been told. After all, that show happened long ago, and the actors were only alive to do a finite number of interesting things. They were all interviewed endlessly, so they had plenty of time to tell their best stories.
But Beaver still has some surprises for us. The show and its cast still have some stories yet to be told. The thrill of discovering a new fold in the lore and the legend is unmatched.
Especially by 2015, one would assume that Mathers had already told all his best stories. Leave It to Beaver had, by that point, been in re-runs for fifty years, and it seemed like Mathers was never too far away from the limelight. Sure, he took lengthy breaks from acting, but the boy who was Beaver was never too shy about giving an interview or releasing a biography. So, it seemed like Mathers would be fresh out of anecdotes when he was interviewed by the Bristol Herald Courier in 2015.
However, that very same profile piece revealed a great story. One time, Bob Hope saved Jerry Mathers from dying in a fire.
Few might recall the cameo performance a very young Mathers made in the 1955 film The Seven Little Foys.
"Bob played Eddie Foy, an American Vaudevillian actor, and I was one of his sons," Mathers later recalled.
As the real-life story goes, shortly after Christmas 1903, Foy was performing at Chicago's Iroquois Theatre when a fire erupted. He tried his best to calm the panicking audience but to no avail. The accident was later recreated in the 1955 film by setting the stage curtain on fire with gasoline.
"But they used too much," said Mathers. "The actors and extras began running out the door. I was up on a scaffold behind the stage and the flames were getting close."
That's when Old Ski Nose saved the day.
"Bob climbed a ladder to get me," Mathers recalled.
Two years later, the young lad would make his debut in Leave It to Beaver, where he appeared in each of the show's 235 episodes.