Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow inspired many Beaver storylines
Wally and the Beav came out of Tony and Jerry's lives.
"Where do you get your ideas?"
That's the question writers get asked the most frequently. People want to know how the sausage is made. No matter what the writing looks like, whether it's fantasy, sci-fi, or realistic situation comedy, fans want to know where the spark of creativity comes from.
As producers of Leave It to Beaver, Joseph Connelly and Robert Mosher were tasked with creating believable situations to ground the show and its characters. At their core, Beaver and Wally were supposed to be relatable more than anything. Sure, they were funny, clever, and likable. But above all that, Wally and the Beav were every kid that was watching; they were real enough that viewers could see themselves, or their children, in the sitcom's stories.
So, where did Connelly and Mosher get their ideas, anyway? As it turns out, the inspiration was right on set under their noses!
"I guess it's pretty sneaky," said Connelly in a 1961 Boston Globe article. "When we want a good story line we call Jerry or Tony over and ask, 'What's new, fellows?' Usually, there is plenty and they take it from there."
Mosher added, "The kids jump from one subject to another like mountain goats in the Alps. Finally, one or the other tells us some incident that only could happen to a teenager. No adult, I don't care how talented a writer, could dream up the idea. Result: we have our next episode."
Connelly remembered when a young Jerry Mathers was upset that his parents were sending him to a dancing school. The young Beav was grumbling about the possibility of being surrounded by girls.
"The way he said girls gave you the impression he was on his way to the guillotine."
When he returned from dance school, Mathers blushed and admitted there was a girl who "wasn't too bad."
When he was asked what made him change his mind to think fondly of this young lady, Jerry replied, "Why, her father's a fireman." The incident would become the basis of an episode of Leave It to Beaver.