Jerry Mathers auditioned for Peter Bogdanovich and Stanley Kubrick in the '60s

Here's a look at what could've been!

NBC/Universal

Jerry Mathers didn't have much of a career in acting after Leave It to Beaver, but it wasn't for lack of wanting. If anything, nobody wanted to see Mathers in movies more than he did. The problem was how the rest of the world saw him. While Mathers believed he could've gone on to a dynamic and diverse filmography, there was a small issue where the viewing public was concerned. For the duration of Leave It to Beaver, Mathers grew up onscreen as the titular Beav. After the show ended, though, it reran perpetually, so Mathers was trapped in static-y amber in arrested adolescence. 

It seems nobody wanted to see Mathers as anyone but the Beaver. The former child star's efforts were met with apathy by an industry ready to shrug him off. He'd continue to exist as an image on TV, but what happened to him as an actor was of little concern for Hollywood.

"There were interviews which turned into personal appearances," Mathers wrote in his 1998 autobiography. Even worse than the cold shoulder, it seems, were the folks ready to leech off of his fame. 

"Producers would ask that I join them at their home or office to read for a part. When I got there they would say something like, 'We know you're not right for this part, but we loved your show and wanted to meet you. Would you mind signing a few things and meeting my office staff or family?'"

But Mathers' story is full of near-misses and could've-beens. A passage from his book, And Jerry Mathers as "the Beaver" reads as a look at a parallel universe version of the '60s wherein he continued to infiltrate the culture.

"I was asked to read for a part in The Last Picture Show. I heard that Cybil Shepherd, a top teen model, was already cast in it. I had a terrible crush on her. If she wanted to call me Beaver Cleaver and ask for a thousand autographs, I wouldn't care!"

The audition didn't go anywhere. According to Mathers, he lost out on the part mostly because of how keen on Shepherd he was. But that wasn't the only Hollywood titan Mathers nearly worked with.

"I interviewed once with Stanley Kubrick. What was interesting was that when I walked in he was sitting on his desk, this huge executive desk. I sat in a chair in front of him. He was towering over me and asked me to read a part. We talked a bit, and that was it."

While he was admittedly deflated after each rejection, Mathers had his hands full with a vibrant life of his own, with school and the National Guard taking up much of his time. 

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12 Comments

Bobtruths 18 days ago
Open the Podbay doors Hal!

I don't think so Beave.

HAL!!!

I'm sorry Theodore, I cannot do that. And what would your mother say, using that tone with me?
seltaeb 26 days ago
I'm wondering if he would have fit in on Happy Days as one of Richies buddies.
cperrynaples seltaeb 25 days ago
He poroably could have been Potsie!
BenSobeleone 26 days ago
Jerry Mathers in 2001: A Space Odyssey? He could have played Franke Poole. Sure, why not?
McGillahooala 27 days ago
Jerry Mathers in the Last Picture Show. I don’t know. That would have been interesting.
JHP 27 days ago
Jerry Mather staring in....Clockwork Orange ("I'm singing in the rain") - YIKES!

but nowadays it may happen
CaptainDunsel JHP 27 days ago
Yep, there was quite a bit of "staring" in "A Clockwork Orange".
JHP CaptainDunsel 26 days ago
I caught the mis-spelling too late....
AgingDisgracefully JHP 26 days ago
Glad the world was spared hearing Jerry say, "Sorry, love. No time for the ol' in-and-out. Just come to read the meter."
Runeshaper 27 days ago
It's tough when actors are subject to typecasting. Still, it's better to have love and acted than to never have acted at all! LOL

In all sincerity, it seems like Mathers had a fulfilling life, and I'm glad for that (-:
cperrynaples 27 days ago
I'm reading this story and wondering what would have happened if Mathers had played Alex in A Clockwork Orange instead of Malcolm McDowell! "I was cured by golly"...LOL!
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