The 1997 Leave It to Beaver movie was rated PG, so Jerry Mathers declined to be in it

The actor felt anything Beaver-related should be "G-rated" and voiced his issues with television in the '90s.

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When you think of Leave It to Beaver, you probably envision curious Beaver Cleaver figuring out life and learning lessons with his older brother Wally.

You probably also see two parents, Ward and June, who show love to their boys even when they make mistakes, and instead of harshly scolding them, help the boys realize that being honest is the best solution.

It's a family sitcom; something children can enjoy without their parents being concerned about the content. That view of the show was "updated" in the Leave It to Beaver 1997 movie, and it's why Jerry Mathers decided not to be a part of the production.

In an interview with New York Daily News in 1998, the then 50-year-old talked about his issues with television in the '90s.

"I see a lot of sitcoms today, and I'm uncomfortable watching them with my two daughters," he said. "The show is going along and suddenly the character is debating whether to sleep with her boyfriend."

He added, "I don't want to shelter the kids forever. But there's such a short time to be young. Why take it away?"

To Mathers, Leave It to Beaver was one of the shows that portrayed "late-50s innocence." It was important to make sure the sitcom was for everyone. So after reading the script of the 1997 movie, Mathers was against the updates producers added.

"I knew from the script that it would be a PG," the actor added. "And I told the producers I was very disappointed about that. I think everything to do with Beaver should be G-rated. They told me it was 'updating,' and I told them you don't need it — and that's why I decided not to be in the movie."

If you watched the movie, a few familiar faces from the original show appeared in the film. Barbara Billingsley portrayed Aunt Martha, and Ken Osmond played Eddie Sr.

No matter where Mathers went, people saw him as Beaver, even at 50. "I think people who don't know me have a tendency to think I am the Beaver. I'm not. But there's so much of all of us in the Beav that there's a part of him in me too."

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47 Comments

RachelR 14 months ago
Jerry, you just go right on protecting LITB.
texasluva 14 months ago
Now days most everything in movies is R rated. It's all about the money and audience which mostly wants action, thrillers, high drama and humans battling aliens or other humans.

Back in 1955 a movie called The Man With The Golden Arm. Staring Frank Sinatra-- Eleanor Parker--Kim Novak--Darren McGavin. A story about a man getting out of prison and drug addiction. Production was delayed because the Production Code Authority (PCA) refused to approve the script, with Joseph Breen stating that the basic story was "unacceptable" because of the Code's prohibition on showing illegal drug trafficking and drug addiction. The code was finally changed by others approving it. It hardly would rate a PG13 today. Quentin Tarantino would never had anyone of his movies shown back then. Otto Preminger you could say started a new revolution in movie making and passing strict codes during those times. Before that most movies of crime had to have the bad guy not get away at the end and either deceased or behind bars for their crime capers. Many a classic block buster were banned in other countries from a few years to 25 years after they were shown elsewhere. For sure times have changed. Everyone has their own option to watch or not.
bmoore4026 14 months ago
Someone remembers the Leave It to Beaver movie other than me? I never saw it, but I saw the commercials and thought "Well, that looks like hot garbage."
JL1965 14 months ago
I admire him for standing up for what he believes in. For not caving. It may sound old fashioned but what this country and its youth need is a little bit of what Beaver and Wally were like.
LalaLucy 14 months ago
Good for him. I really appreciate anyone who cares about that. It's so rare these days.
MC1707 14 months ago
Good man for standing up. He is right in what he said about the character of the Beaver and the essence of the show.
SalIanni 14 months ago
Jerry Mathers did get a chance to update the Beaver in a G-rated form in the mid-1980s when he agreed to star in the TV movie "Still The Beaver" which turned into the series "The New Leave It To Beaver". It featured most of the original cast and had Beaver and Wally return to their hometown as parents of young children of their own. I thought the cast did a wonderful job and to this day it is still my favorite "rebooted" series of all time.
cperrynaples SalIanni 14 months ago
Honestly, I think Mathers was disappointed they didn't ask him to be Ward, which would have been perfect for Tony! And he proably didn't like that those chose the [BLANK] from Happy Gilmore to play him! And no I didn't mean Sandler...LOL!
JHP 14 months ago
Laugh Out Loud - was watching on decades Blondie and Dagwood (B/W). It was was rated PG. C'mon man!
cperrynaples JHP 14 months ago
Well, those Decades ratings are arbutery! I was disappointed there were no '68 Blondies! Bonus Question: what popular child performers played her children in that later version?
TheSentinel cperrynaples 14 months ago
Peter Robbins and Pamelyn Ferdin (both of whom also appeared as the voices of Charlie Brown and Lucy in several early Peanuts TV specials) appeared as the kids in the '68 Blondie. Both Robbins and Ferdin, however, ended up taking wrong turns in their lives as adults (as were the fates of a lot of other former child actors).
cperrynaples TheSentinel 14 months ago
Ferdin just retired at the end of the '70's, but Robbins committed suicide! BTW, she said Paul Lynde had issues on his 1972 series! I wonder if he was keeping a secret...LOL!
RedSamRackham cperrynaples 14 months ago
* There was a 1968-69 Blondie & Dagwood sitcom that failed in ratings. It starred Will Hutchins as Dagwood but he is forever Sugarfoot! Yet Arthur Lake will always be the Sean Connery of Dagwoods!
TonkerBell 14 months ago
That's odd, considering he did a cameo on Married With Children (which is hardly G rated) and one of his lines in his cameo was "I was--no--I AM still the Beaver!"
cperrynaples TonkerBell 14 months ago
Yep, read my post below!
SrLerxst TonkerBell 14 months ago
Exactly, and in an episode of Diagnosis Murder ironically called
"Trash TV" where he is an executive of a network wanting more violence reality programming! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0559304/?ref_=nm_flmg_eps_tt_1
RedSamRackham TonkerBell 14 months ago
* Bud & Kelly Bundy teased Jerry Mathers about being a has-been child actor and he angrily replied "At least my Dad didn't support his family selling women's shoes!"
Zip 14 months ago
He's right.
Hollywood has a tendency to crap up classic shows, and Jerry knows it.

I have heard from some that LITB shows an "unrealistic" view of life.
I say bullpucky. That's just a copout, and an excuse to not want to put in the work to live that kind of life. Raising kids to be moral is hard. Being a good, even-tempered husband/wife is hard. Being kind and not losing your patience when things go astray is hard.
The flip-side of those values is easy. It's not hard to lose your temper. It's easy to say unkind words to someone you feel wronged you(in fact, a lot of sitcoms after LITB seem to encourage that).

We would all do well(me included) to be like Ward. Be like June. Be like Wally. Even be like the Beaver(ok, but not so prone to get into trouble in the first place, but as far as childlike innocence). Heck, be like Mr. Rogers. He was a real life example of the kind of life shown in LITB.
cperrynaples Zip 14 months ago
well, the problem with the movie wasn't the rating [even many Disney movies are PG-13], it's that the boys who played Wally & Beaver were horrible!
tootsieg Zip 14 months ago
Very good and on the money comment.
Jon cperrynaples 14 months ago
I thought Ward was mis-cast too.
Mblack Zip 14 months ago
My father left when I was eight. Life isn't like the show.
LalaLucy Zip 14 months ago
Very well said, Zip.
Zip Mblack 14 months ago
Very sorry that happened to you.
My father was certainly no Ward Cleaver. He yelled a lot and wasn't someone I felt I could talk to about my problems.
But that doesn't mean we can't learn from our experiences and do things differently. Take Beaver, for instance. He was always learning from his mistakes, in pretty much every episode.
Runeshaper 14 months ago
Good for Jerry Mathers! I can totally understand his side of things.
RedSamRackham Runeshaper 14 months ago
* But the TV series did push the envelope a few times. The Chopper episode was about a boy whose parents were divorced and whose life wasn't too happy. Then there was the episode about the time Wally, Eddie & Lumpy were going to hang out at a cottage with a friend without adult supervision until their parents found out.
RedSamRackham 14 months ago
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RedSamRackham 14 months ago
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Andybandit 14 months ago
Rated PG isn't that bad. Is guess Jerry was used to being in a G rated show. Which aren't many shows nowadays.
cperrynaples 14 months ago
Really, the only thing that could have offended him was when Janine Turner told Christopher McDonald he was too hard on the Beaver...LOL! Had he forgotten that Barbara spoke "jive" in Airplane? And I thought Eddie was the bad boy...LOL again! Also, wasn't Jerry on Married With Children...TOUCHE!
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Ok, i meant to say non-Disney movies! GUILTY AS CHARGED!
TonkerBell Zip 14 months ago
But he still referred to himself as The Beaver when he was on Married with Children….
SrLerxst cperrynaples 14 months ago
Oh yeah and even in an episode of the silly Love Boat!
cperrynaples SrLerxst 14 months ago
Well, he was with Wally and their mother...LOL! And let's not forget Parker Louis Can't Lose!
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