Best Known For
Former child star Jerry Mathers is best known for playing the role of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver from 1957-1963 on the series Leave It to Beaver.
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American actor Jerry Mathers was born on June 2, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa. At age 2 he was in commercials. Later, he did several movies and then starred in the situation comedy television series Leave it to Beaver. After the series ended, Mathers went on to high school and college and served in the Air Force National Guard. As an adult, he operated a catering company, invested in real estate,and currently serves as a spokesperson for various causes and products.
"I had a very special family life. My mother and father made sure when we were home, we were part of the family, not a TV star. And the other thing: my father was fully employed while I was doing the series."
"Our generation is the first to have grown up with TV. I'm one of the first kids that they watched grow up on television."
"Barbara Billingsley, who was my TV mom June, is as nice in person as she appeared on the show."
Actor Jerry Mathers was born Gerald Patrick Mathers on June 2, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa. He is the son of Norm and Marilyn Mathers. His father was a high school principal and later a school district executive in Los Angeles. Mathers began his acting career for a PET milk commercial with comedic actor Ed Wynn. From here, Mathers obtained child-roles in the films The Seven Little Foys with James Cagney and Bob Hope and Alfred Hitchcock production The Trouble with Harry also starring John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine.
In 1957, opportunity came that would forever define Mathers. He auditioned for and got the role of Theodore Cleaver, better known as “the Beaver” for the television situation comedy Leave it to Beaver. Reportedly he got the role because of his candid "kid" attitude in telling the producers he would rather be at his cub scout meeting than auditioning for this part.
Leave it to Beaver was a situation comedy television series that centered on the antics and adventures of Theodore Cleaver (the Beaver), a naïve but inquisitive pre-teen living in a typical American white middle-class family in the suburbs. The series was one of the first primetime sitcoms to be written from a child’s point of view.
Mathers’ character would often find himself embroiled in some sort of misunderstanding due often to his innocent way of looking at the world, particularly adults and their problems. The confusion would come to light and Beaver’s parents would be faced with the dilemma of reprimanding the child or just giving him a hug for showing them a different perspective.
The series ran for six seasons (1957-'63) and was later seen in more than 80 countries in 40 languages. Mathers had a remarkable personal and professional relationship with co-stars Tony Dow, who played his brother Wally, and Barbara Billingsley, who played his mother June. Mathers remained close to Billingsley until her death in 2010. He often said that his television family was as much a part of his life as his own family.
The series was not renewed at the beginning of the 1963-'64 season and many of the series stars wanted to move on to other projects. Mathers entered Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, and from there he served in the Air Force National Guard (1967-'69). He was mistakenly reported as killed in action during the Vietnam War, but all of his duties were stateside. After leaving military service he attended and graduated from the University of California (Berkley) in 1973 with a BA in philosophy.
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