Diane Brewster's final role once again made her Beaver's favorite teacher
Beaver's first big crush would return to teach his son.
Image, right: Universal Television
Few actresses can claim to have charmed both Beaver Cleaver and Bret Maverick. In fact, it is probably just the one. Diane Brewster never landed a major series of her own, but she played some unforgettable characters in classic television, finding a place in our memories with a mere handful of episodes.
Let's start with The Fugitive. As the story has been retold several times now, we all know the plot centers around the wrongfully convicted Richard Kimble, an innocent man charged with killing his wife, Helen Kimble. Brewster played Mrs. Kimble, largely seen in flashbacks, as in the insightful tale "The Girl from Little Egypt."
On Maverick, Brewster portrayed the sly and beguiling Samantha Crawford, one of the few women to give Bret a run for his money. Making her debut in "According to Hoyle," the fan-favorite popped up in four episodes, ending her run in the brilliant "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," perhaps the best episode of the Western series.
Meanwhile, she was aiming Cupid's arrow in an entirely different direction on Leave It to Beaver. Brewster was there from the very beginning as Beaver's teacher, Miss Canfield. In "Beaver's Crush," the second-grader falls hard for his lovely teacher.
Miss Canfield appears only in the first season of the beloved sitcom. Perhaps she went away because Beaver matriculated from the second to third grade, and moved on to Miss Landers.
But Brewster — and Miss Canfield — was not done with the Cleaver clan and peaceful environs of Mayfield.
Following some small guest spots on Wagon Train, Family Affair and Ironside, Brewster largely vanished from television circa 1970. Thirteen years later, she returned to her first significant role — educating a young Cleaver.
The made-for-TV movie Still the Beaver revived the franchise, leading into a surprisingly long-running reboot, The New Leave It to Beaver, which ran for four seasons. Most of the living cast returned to their iconic roles, from Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) to Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver).
Yes, Diane Brewster was back in the classroom at Grant Avenue Junior High, teaching Oliver Cleaver, son of the Beaver. As with her first run on Leave It to Beaver, she appeared in five episodes. "The Great Debate," from the final season (seen above), would be her last appearance in Mayfield — and her last ever screen role.
Brewster, a descendent of Mayflower passenger William Brewster, the senior elder of the Plymouth Colony, would die in 1991 at the age of 60.