Here's what Barbara Billingsley learned from modeling
Miss Billingsley knew how to dress, and how to hold herself.
Way before she came to represent the perfect mom on Leave It to Beaver, Barbara Billingsley had a successful career as a fashion model in New York City. Later in life, she would attribute much of her luck as an actress to the skillset she built in her previous field.
"This taught me a great deal about clothes in general, how to walk, and what styles suited me," Billingsley told The San Angelo Standard-Times. "In a way, it is a kind of finishing school for whatever you want to do," she explained.
"You make fewer mistakes when you know about clothes, what fabrics serve you best, how to look for details that will bring your clothes back from the cleaners like new, and what is best for you."
In addition to her newfound expertise in wearable textiles, Miss Billingsley learned thriftiness from her time on the runway. This allowed the actress to stay afloat, financially, after Leave It to Beaver concluded. Fans will recall the actress' 20-year retreat from the spotlight after the famous sitcom ended. While her second husband's passing would eventually nudge her back into the spotlight, her frugal nature allowed her to remain out of sight in the interim.
"It is much more economical to invest in one really good dress. You may tire of it the first season, but it's a simple way to build a good wardrobe. A dress or suit that is simple and of fine fabric can be carried over from season to season."
Despite all that she learned, Miss Billingsley was pleased to leave the modeling world behind. In addition to the love she had for the cast and crew of Beaver, Barbara Billingsley felt that haute-couture was best left to the professionals.
"It's best to leave high fashion to the models. Choose your clothes to cover up your bad points and point out your good ones. I avoid strapless evening gowns because they are not becoming of me."
"I've learned how to use accessories to give my clothes a new feeling. I adore wearing little scarves in my belts, at my neck, or out of my pockets."
Beyond what she wore, Miss Billingsley prided herself in the way she approached each day with a positive attitude. She was able to face life's surprises and letdowns with a disciplined mindset that kept her from sinking into depression following her husbands' deaths.