Ken Osmond's military commitment made it so he only appeared sporadically in later Leave It to Beaver episodes

The United States Army Reserve kept Eddie Haskell off the show.

Few sitcom supporting characters have ever made the lasting impact that Ken Osmond did as Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver. The character was synonymous with two-faced finks. He was sweet as could be when Mrs. Cleaver was in the room. But when it was just him, Wally, and the Beaver, Eddie's true colors showed very clearly. But even at his worst, Eddie Haskell was incredibly compelling and watchable. He was the guy in the neighborhood we all loved to hate. 

So why, then, was Eddie not in every single episode of Leave It to Beaver? He's one of the most memorable parts of the show! 

There are a ton of reasons why a fan favorite might not be featured as heavily in later seasons. They might ask for too much money, or their popularity might overshadow that of the principal stars. For the most part, when a character's role is scaled back, it's due to some sort of backstage dispute that threatens to distract from what's happening in the show.

But, according to the actor himself in a 2014 interview with the Hermosa Beach Daily Breeze, his absences were a lot easier to explain, and a lot more noble, than any behind-the-scenes squabble. 

During the final two years of Leave It to Beaver, Osmond was enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. Obviously, his commitment to his country conflicted with the demanding schedule associated with starring in one of the nation's most-watched sitcoms. 

While he wasn't able to appear as frequently as he had, Osmond was granted special permission to film the show while on leave. A master sergeant allowed Osmond to tape his show as often as time allowed.

However, that permission came at a price. Osmond was then required to make several personal appearances for the Reserves, as the military sought to capitalize on his fame to boost morale. 

Looking at Osmond's credits list today, it's astounding that the Reserves were able to accommodate him as much as they were. Eddie Haskell appears in a whopping sixteen episodes in Leave It to Beaver's fifth season, the year his schedule was most affected. While that might seem like a lot, it accounted for less than half of the total episodes filmed. Tellingly, during that year, his first with the United States Army Reserve, there is a 13-episode gap where Eddie Haskell doesn't appear on Leave It to Beaver at all. 

Luckily, the following year, the Reserves were able to further humor the actor's schedule, allowing Osmond to appear in a total of 25 episodes in the show's sixth and final season.

Watch Leave It to Beaver on MeTV!

Weekdays at 8 & 8:30 AM, Sundays at 1 & 1:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

17 Comments

Null88 4 months ago
I loved Eddie. He was the grounding force that balanced "String of Pearls" June's Peter Pan advice. Did she do ANYTHING except push off problems and work and parental responsibilities on Ward.
AgingDisgracefully 4 months ago
This sort of explains the episode where Eddie said, "I won't be back 'til it's over over there..."
obectionoverruled 4 months ago
Yep I also served 6 years in my state national guard. It called for the standard 6 months initial active duty (basic training and AIT - advanced individual training), 72 weekends consisting of 4 ‘drills’ conducted over 2 days, and six two-week summer camps. We used to refer to the weekend drills as our ‘periods’, and compared ourselves to child bearing women and their monthly scourge.
So how would that have actually done to his filming schedule? How many shows was between 1957 to 60 or 61 vs 60 or 61-63?
LalaLucy 4 months ago
Cool. I had wondered about this very thing the other day. Eddie seemed MIA on a lot of season 5 and I never knew why. Nice to know it was such a worthy reason.
ecarfar 4 months ago
Behind Barney Fife, Eddie Haskell was the best character in TV history.
paxallen1067 ecarfar 4 months ago
I'd start with Bob Denver's Maynard G Krebs (definitely not as Gilligan) and Joe Besser's Stinky Davis on the Abbott & Costello Show. Oh, and Soupy Sales' mean dog White Fang ..
SRN paxallen1067 4 months ago
And Otto Schmidlap from THE LIFE OF RILEY.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
It was cool of the U.S. Army to let Ken continue to act, and it was solid of Ken to make several personal appearances for the Reserves in return.
Load previous comments
Null88 cperrynaples 4 months ago
I like videotape. Dark Shadows and Twilight Zone felt "live" when the tape rolled as if you could step into the TV.
cperrynaples Null88 4 months ago
Tape sorta worked for Dark Shadows, but the mistakes were obvious! And i will ALWAYS say "Twenty Two" was the WORST TZ, both acting and visually!
LoveMETV22 Wiseguy70005 4 months ago
" It's only "semantics"to people who can't or don't understand facts."
------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry, but it's not really a matter of semantics! It's more a matter of you and other pedant's that visit the website to dis-credit others. Plain and Simple. You and other pedant's seem to derive pleasure from doing so! The website is here for fun(Nothing more or less)! Perhaps you should seek out other websites that thrive on grammar, punctuation and the like. Your not impressing anyone with your side comments in the meanwhile ( Plain and Simple!)
LoveMETV22 Wiseguy70005 4 months ago
Not impressed by your comments or the other pedant's that visit the website. If you gain some pleasure (So Be It). You gain no respect from such comments. Again this website is for the enjoyment of all, not for your petty addition(s)!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?