Jerry Mathers helped create an iconic scene in Alfred Hitchcock's ''Psycho'' while he was filming ''Leave It to Beaver''

Now when you watch Psycho, you'll know that Theodore Cleaver helped make it happen.

Image: Everett Collection

The cool thing about being a part of a formative piece of entertainment is that sometimes, just across the film lot, something else just as amazing is happening right next to you. 

For example, for a period of time, while Jerry Mathers was busy starring as Theodore Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver, preparations were underway on that same lot for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. These two programs would gain renown in their own right, and luckily for Jerry Mathers, he had a hand in the success of both of them.

According to Mathers's memoir, And Jerry Mathers as the Beaver, Mathers would often visit the makeup lab on the Universal lot as often as his shooting schedule would allow him to. Mathers wrote, "I would go there between takes when they were filming other parts. If Tony was shooting with someone else or if I had an hour or two of free time after finishing school, I'd spend it at the makeup lab."

The lab was just a short walk away from where Leave It to Beaver was shooting, and was filled with every silly thing a kid could dream up. Mathers, who had developed a friendship with the lab workers, was often allowed to have some good old-fashioned childhood fun. He wrote, "The makeup men were always nice to me. They would let me make scars and mustaches for myself and they would allow me to mix different things to make blood."

However, Mathers also had a hand in some of the more professional projects that took place in the makeup lab, specifically one with worker Bob Dawn.

Mathers wrote, "Dawn got a skull from a medical surplus house and let me help him with his project. A new skull is bright white because it's been bleached. We had to age the skull by putting yellow and brown lines on it, then rubbing them off."

Spoiler alert: If you remember the skull in Psycho, you know it's meant to depict Norman Bates' dead mother. This also meant that Mathers helped Dawn apply fake hair to the skull, making for a truly terrifying visual. He wrote, "Every day we'd comb all the hairs through. You had to place it piece by piece, dipping it into the glue and gluing it to the head. This went on for three or four weeks."

He continued, "Every chance I got I would run to the makeup lab and help Dawn glue the hair on the skull for Psycho. It's actually the one they used in the film."

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11 Comments

Earlbob1117 8 days ago
The 1957 Ford that Ward Cleaver drove was also the same Ford that Marion Crane drove in Psycho.
I loved the last scene in Psycho where it's being pulled out of the swamp
BorisK 2 months ago
Met Jerry and Tony when they came to San Diego in 1978 with their dinner theater play 'Goodbye Stanley'. They were both very down to earth and nice guys.
texasluva 2 months ago
There have been others on scene performing other movies that actually got involved in another while between takes. Shirley MacLaine was one such actress. Uncredited Role: Ocean's Eleven (1960) Shirley MacLaine has an unbilled cameo as a Tipsy Woman. She shot it during a break while filming Billy Wilder's The Apartment.

Jerry Maters made the most of his time doing Leave It To Beaver and off set learning about others.

Many have been seen by directors such as Carlton Heston. In this trivia--Charlton Heston was driving through the Paramount Pictures lot when he spotted Cecil B. DeMille, whom he had never met. Heston waved. DeMille was so impressed by Heston's wave he made inquiries that ultimately led to Heston being cast as Brad in this film. This was only Heston's third film and it skyrocketed him to fame. One fan wrote a letter to DeMille on how much she enjoyed the movie and commented, "And I'm surprised how well the circus manager [Heston] worked with the real actors." Heston thought it was one of the best reviews he ever received (The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) On a side not. DeMille wanted- Despite his made-to-order background as a real-life circus acrobat, Burt Lancaster declined the role of The Great Sebastian, a fact Cecil B. DeMille doubly regretted when he learned that Cornel Wilde was afraid of heights. Wilde was game, however, and ended up performing many of his own stunts on the flying trapeze.

How many of us wished to be part of or view the filming of these great movies? Lights, Camera, Action!
LalaLucy 2 months ago
I have read about this before anf always thought it was cool. 🙂
AgingDisgracefully 2 months ago
What about the talk of Hitchcock encouraging Bates to give Arbogast "the business"?
Runeshaper 2 months ago
It's cool that they let Mathers hang out in the lab. Extra cool that Bob Dawn let him help with the skull.
cperrynaples Runeshaper 2 months ago
Yep, he was proably the only person who DIDN'T scream when that scene happened!
justjeff 2 months ago
...and don't forget Jerry (then around five years old) was in the Hithcock dark comedy "The Trouble with Harry"...
Michaeljscheibn justjeff 2 months ago
Yep with the dead rabbit
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