Jerry Mathers had no trouble adjusting to normal teen life after Leave It to Beaver
After his run on the hit family friendly series, Mathers played football, joined the service, went to college and even dabbled in real estate.
Jerry Mathers will always be best known for his timeless role of Theodore Beaver Cleaver. After six years on Leave It to Beaver, Mathers was 14 years old and ready to start high school.
He was a child actor and, because of the show's popularity throughout its run on television, he was a celebrity. There have always been stories about successful child actors who struggle transitioning to a more "normal" life after a series or movie wraps. That wasn't the case for Mathers.
He did several things to keep busy and keep a good head on his shoulders. In 1963, when Leave It to Beaver finished, Mathers went to high school and did all the things other kids did at that age.
According to a 1982 Daily Herald-Tribune newspaper article, Mathers joined his high school football team. He went out for it like everyone else, and made the team like everyone else.The article states Mathers played center and linebacker, even though he wasn't the biggest kid on the team. He had a solid group of friends, which was a big part of his transition from the TV world.
"I thought of trying to keep up with football," Mathers said. "Until my senior year, when a big freshman really knocked me around on the practice field one day. So I realized I'd better find something else."
According to the article, that "big freshman" turned out to be John Vella, who would go on to play a couple years as an offensive lineman in the National Football League, specifically for the Oakland Raiders.
When football didn't pan out, Mathers enlisted in the Air Force, keeping his uniform on for six years. Still, something was missing.
"I had always wanted to go to college," he said. "I had been a good student so, after I left the service, I went to the University of California at Berkeley, and I majored in philosophy."
During his time in school, Mathers started "playing around with investments" at a Berkeley bank. So much so, the personnel at the bank got to know him and even offered him a job, one he took. Dealing with big amounts of money for three years, Mathers learned some of the biggest transactions involved real estate.
He then dabbled in real estate and "even owned a pawnshop," according to a 2002 Orlando Sentinel article.
Acting eventually came calling again for Mathers, as he appeared in an episode of The Love Boat along with the reboot The New Leave It to Beaver, beginning in 1983.
Despite being one of the most recognizable child stars television has ever seen, Jerry Mathers grew up like so many other kids his age, and led a life that made him "very happy."