Jerry Mathers said that Hugh Beaumont was a ''Dutch Uncle''
Just because they played a family on screen doesn't mean they felt like one off-screen.
As an actor, you’re more likely to have a big personality, and with all of those big personalities working together on set, people are bound to clash with each other every so often.
However, Frank Bank takes this a step further in his autobiography, Call Me Lumpy, where he discusses his past on the set of Leave It To Beaver. In it, he writes that Jerry Mathers and Hugh Beaumont, though they played a loving father and son on television, actually didn’t care for each other that much. He wrote, “Jerry and Hugh were not the best of friends. Really, I think there was just a lot of difference in personality between the two. Water and oil. Jerry was young. Hugh was older. Hugh was sterner. And I don’t think Jerry liked that. I believe Jerry didn’t like somebody who was that strict.” He even went on to write, “When the script called for friction between father and son, they weren’t exactly always acting.”
He clarified, “I knew there was no long-lost love there between them. But it wasn’t open dislike or warfare either. You didn’t do things that way back then too often. It was more just beneath the surface.”
Now, it’s not that unusual to clash with an authority-like figure when you’re a child; in fact, it’s pretty normal. Especially considering that many of the Leave It To Beaver kids have maintained that Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont were just as parent-like to them off-screen as they were on, it makes sense that Mathers may have conflicted with Beaumont in the same way that a son would conflict with his father.
But let’s not all believe Lumpy so soon. In his book, Mathers has an opportunity to describe his relationship with Beaumont. Mathers revealed that Hugh was not only a presence in his professional life, but his personal life as well. He said, “I knew Hugh before Leave It To Beaver. Hugh actually was a very, very close friend of my family. So I knew him not only on the set but off the set. He would come over and my father and he would play golf and things like that.”
Of Beaumont, Mathers also said, “Aside from being someone I worked with, Hugh was like a Dutch Uncle, maybe.” For those who don’t know, a Dutch Uncle is someone who is harsh and critical against someone else but uses that criticism to encourage or educate them. So, it looks like Lumpy and The Beav can both be right. Perhaps Mathers chafed against Beaumont’s encouragement now and again, but ultimately was grateful for it and appreciated Beaumont’s efforts.
In addition, Mathers discussed Beaumont in a post on his website, in which he called Beaumont his “friend and mentor,” and revealed that the two had been on screen together before they starred in Leave It To Beaver during a promotional film for Rose Hills Memorial Park.