No other actors were auditioned for June Cleaver besides Barbara Billingsley

She may have been born in December, but she was destined to be June!

NBC/Universal

In Hollywood, there are a lot of near misses and even more might-have-been. With so many actors vying for important roles, you can't help but wonder how different a show might have been if fate had turned in another direction.

For example, Mickey Rooney was once positioned as the hopeful star of All in the Family. Rooney was set to play the hateful and abrasive Archie Bunker, at least that's what creator Norman Lear hoped. However, Rooney feared backlash to the show and refused the role, which eventually went to Carroll O'Connor, who Lear himself had continually lauded as perfect for the role when the series finally made it to air. But what if Rooney had taken a chance and agreed to play Archie Bunker? Would All in the Family be a completely different show, simply because of one casting decision?

It was never a dilemma that the creators of Leave It to Beaver faced, at least in the case of casting June Cleaver. According to Jerry Mathers, better known as The Beav, Billingsley never had any competition poised against her in the audition process for June Cleaver. In his book, And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver, Mathers explained that between the show's production and air, the cast underwent many changes, including a recasting of main characters like Ward and Wally Cleaver. However, "no one ever questioned the selection of Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver," Mathers wrote.

Series co-creator Joe Connelly was able to confirm the crew's adoration of Billingsley. "We never even interviewed another actress for the part," said Connelly. "It was her part for the asking."

Billingsley, on the other hand, was quick to credit the writing, instead of the casting on the series. "The show has held up, and I always give credit to Joe [Connelly] and Bob [Mosher]. I'm not taking anything away from the casting, but they wrote all the early shows."

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9 Comments

DeputyWarren 11 days ago
That explains why Billingsley had top-billing in the credit, over Hugh Beaumont and Jerry..
Charlotte 1 month ago
It's hard to imagine any other people in those rolls on the Beaver. Great casting in those days.
CoreyC 1 month ago
Both Wally and Ward Cleaver was recast.
cperrynaples CoreyC 1 month ago
Yep, only Mathers and Billingsley did the pilot AND the series!
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
Today, Fairness would demand producers interview a few chain-smoking ratbags, some plastic surgery devotees...actually anyone who hoped to be a Real Housewife of Mayfield.
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