“Leave It To Beaver” definitely marked a lot of people’s childhoods. Although it only aired for six years, the series became a classic in no time ,with characters as iconic as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, who was arguably the first kid character to ever have a series written from his point of view.
While “Leave It To Beaver” left TV screens in 1963, many of those who watched it on air or during one of its many reruns might wonder what happened to the cast. In this video we’re going to tell you all details about the show’s stars’ whereabouts since the series wrapped up, including their personal and professional life, what series or films they were in, and who of them are still alive. Keep with us to know all!
Where Are The Stars Of “Leave It To Beaver” Now?
Everyone who watched “Leave It To Beaver”, knows that the role of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver was perfect for Jerry Mathers.
Prior to the series, Jerry had a lot of acting experience from having appeared in dozens of ads, films and series since he was two years old. However, Beaver was certainly his breakthrough character, and the one people mostly remember him for until this day.
Following the end of “Leave It To Beaver” in 1963, being still 15, Jerry mostly focused on attending school, while making minor appearances in the series such as “Bewitched” and “Lassie”. In 1966 he joined the USAF Reserve, retiring with Sergeant rank in 1969. He graduated from the University of California with a degree in philosophy in 1973, thereafter working as a bank officer while also investing his earnings from TV in real estate. In the late 1970s, he went back to the entertainment world by appearing in the spin-offs “Still the Beaver” and “The New Leave It To Beaver”, followed by several minor roles in films and series OVER the next decades. His last role to date was as Mr. Simpson in the 2008 movie “Mother Goose Parade”.
Although he seems to have definitely retired from acting, he still attends “Leave It To Beaver” events, and is a spokesperson for diabetes awareness organizations.
Although prior to “Leave It To Beaver”, Hugh Beaumont had already appeared in dozens of films and TV series after his debut in the world of entertainment in the 1940s, his role of Ward Cleaver is the most memorable of his career.
After the end of the show, Hugh’s only work in a movie was in “The Human Duplicators” in 1965, completely focusing on TV by taking several minor appearances in series such as the “Wagon Train” and “Petticoat Junction”, rarely working as a TV screenwriter as well.
Regarding his personal life, Hugh was a theologist by profession, and a minister for the Methodist Church. He was married to actress Kathryn Adams, whom he met while on a contest named Gateway To Hollywood in the 1940s. Although Kathryn’s career was apparently on the rise by the time they married, she eventually quit acting to raise their children Hunter, Mark and Kristy.
Their marriage lasted 33 years, ending in 1974 for unknown reasons.
While Hugh never won an award for his portrayal of Ward Cleaver, the character is recognized in American culture for being the perfect example of an understanding but morally-lead mid-class patriarch. Hugh unfortunately died of a heart attack in 1982, during a trip to Germany.
She’s better known by “Leave It To Beaver”s audience as the Cleaver family’s matriarch and a mid-century female role model, but Barbara Billingsley was much more than the series let us see. Following the end of the show in 1963, the overwhelming popularity of “Leave It To Beaver” didn’t play in her favour, as it marked her as a typecast actress, making it very difficult for her to get new roles in Hollywood.
Barbara’s only acting job in almost two decades was in 1971, when she appeared in two episodes of “The F.B.I” series.
After spending part of her hiatus traveling abroad, her comeback to the entertainment industry in the 1980s movie “Airplane!” was more than welcome. Although her role as the Jive Lady was minor, it became an instant hit and brought her career back to life.
From then, Barbara made several guest appearances in TV shows, eventually reprising her role in all the “Leave It To Beaver” spin-offs except for the 1997’s movie in which she was the Aunt Martha. Her other recurring role was voicing Nanny in the “Muppets Babies” in the 1980s, guest starring in several other series until her final role as a Miss Ruthie “Secret Santa”.
Barbara sadly died on 16 October 2010 of polymyalgia, at 94 years old.
While you might know Tony Dow for his role of Wallace Cleaver, the truth is that the man behind “Wally” had many other talents besides acting.
Unlike his co-stars, Tony’s debut in the entertainment industry was actually in “Leave It To Beaver”, in which he was cast with no acting experience when he was barely 12 years old.
Though he was once a Junior Olympic diving champion, Tony’s focus was evidently on arts, guest appearing in several series such as “Mr. Novak”, and a recurring role in “Never Too Young”. He served in the National Guard for three years until 1968, then in 1970 he returned to acting, also debuted as a producer, guest director, and even worked as a visual effects technician.
The reprisal of his role as Wally Cleaver came with the TV movie and series revival of “Leave It To Beaver” in the 1980s, to which he also contributed as a screenwriter.
Despite his popularity on TV, and an even more accomplished career as a sculptor which took him to exhibit his work in the Louvre, Tony’s life hasn’t been easy.
Although nowadays he’s fortunately healthy, Tony struggled with chronic depression in his twenties, and also battled prostate cancer later in life.
Now well into his 70s, Tony’s definitely retired from the entertainment industry, but he’s actively working as a sculptor, construction contractor and designer.
Better known by “Leave It To Beaver” audiences as the trouble-maker Eddie Haskell, Ken Osmond is one of those actors whose life off-camera was just as interesting as on TV. After the show’s end in 1963, he was Harold Boggs in an episode of “Petticoat Junction”, portrayed John in the sitcom “The Munsters”, and appeared as The Beard in the movie “C’mon, Let’s Live A Little” in 1967.
However, by the end of the 1960s the stagnation of his career was evident. As a typecast actor in Hollywood, finding new projects away from the shadow of Eddie Haskell was very difficult,
Unmotivated by the lack of acting job offers, Ken Osmod joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1969. During his time in law enforcement, he didn’t leave the public eye, as his identity was mistaken with that of adult film actor John Holmes and the rock star Alice Cooper.
Ken was granted disability leave by the LAPD in 1984, as a couple of years prior he was shot and severely injured during a chase. In 1983, he went back to the entertainment industry for “Leave It To Beaver” spin-off series and movie.
Ken unfortunately died of pulmonary disease on 18 May 2020.
While Rusty Stevens’ co-stars stayed in the entertainment world in some way or another, the same can’t be said about him. Before being cast as Beaver’s best friend Larry Mondelo, Rusty’s career as a child actor had been slowly growing, with minor appearances in series such as “Racket Squad” and “Telephone Time”.
Larry was Rusty’s first nation-wide acknowledged character, appearing in 68 episodes of “Leave It To Beaver” before leaving the series in 1960. Though for a long time it was said that he left to move with his family to Philadelphia, his former co-star Barbara Billingsley affirmed that despite the cast loving Rusty, his exit wasn’t motivated for a good reason: ‘unfortunately, they had to let him go because his mother was such a pain in the neck’.
Though he appeared briefly in the series’ “National Velvet” and “The Rifleman”, he disappeared from the entertainment industry for years, and in 1969 joined the US Army, though he was stationed in West Germany and never served in Vietnam.
After the war, Rusty married Theresa Marinelli, with whom he welcomed a son. In 1983 he reprised his role as Larry Mondelo in the movie “Still The Beaver”, followed by brief appearances in the series “The New Leave It To Beaver”.
Many might remember Stanley Fafara for his role of Hubert Whitney, one of Beaver’s friends at school during the show’s six-year run.
However, Stanley’s life off-camera wasn’t a pleasant one. Though prior to the show his career as a child actor was seemingly thriving, with minor appearances in series and TV commercials, he was never cast again in any other production after “Leave It To Beaver”s end. In his early 20s Stanley became close to the members of the rock band Paul Revere & the Raiders, a friendship which introduced him to Hollywood’s nightlife, and suspectedly drove him into his alcoholic and drug addiction.
As per his parents’ request, Stanley spent some time in Jamaica to recover from his addictions, however, his family’s efforts were unsuccessful, and he eventually returned to the US in 1972, had a short-lived marriage, and made a living out of selling drugs.
He was sentenced to a year in jail for burglary in the 1980s, but didn’t leave drugs after his release, developing a heroin addiction which shortly after led to him to contract Hepatitis C.
Stanley finally became sober by the 1990s, and was supported by Social Security until 2003, when he died after undergoing surgery for a hernia. He died in Oregon on 20 September, the day of his 53th birthday.
Although Rich Correll was in “Leave It To Beaver” for two years only, his character Richard Rickover appeared in enough episodes to be remembered as one of Beaver’s friends.
Unfortunately Rich doesn’t have a vast career as an actor. After leaving the series in 1962, Rich played minor characters in “The Betty Hutton Show”, “Bonanza” and “Family Matters”. He also appeared in the spin-off TV movie “Still The Beaver” and its following series, making his last credited role on television in the series “The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody” in 2007.
However, Rich’s work experience in other fields of the entertainment industry is enviable. He has worked as a screenwriter for internationally known productions such as “Hannah Montana” in 2006, producing over 50 episodes of the 1980s’ series “The Hogan Family” and “Step By Step” as well.
Rich made his debut as a director in 1990, with the comedy film “Ski Patrol”, splitting the next three decades working on TV and films. Some productions directed by Rich include the series “Perfect Strangers”, “That’s So Raven” and “The Suite Life On Deck”.
Rich’s most recent credited work as a writer and producer is the 2014’s film “Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?”, while his last directed movie is “The Girl Who Believes In Miracles”, premiered in 2021.
His role as Gilbert Bates is surely remembered well by any avid fan of “Leave It To Beaver”, but Stephen Talbot’s career goes well beyond that. Following the show’s end, Stephen went on to appear in TV series’ “Arrest and Trial” and “Mr. Novak”, and hosted the documentary “Frontline”. His most recent appearance was in “Idol Chat” in 2021.
While his career as a public figure might not be vast, Stephen’s work as a producer, director and reporter is more notably successful. He graduated from Wesleyan University with a major in English, but focused the first years of his career on creating documentaries supporting the anti-Vietnam War movement. To date, he has directed several investigative documentaries, such as “The Heartbeat of America” and “Justice For Sale”, also working as an editor for its international magazine “Frontline World”.
Stephen’s most successful co-produced documentary to date is definitely “Iraq: Saddam’s Road to Hell”, winner of an Emmy Award. Nowadays, Rich is still actively working, producing documentary films for TV.
The Show’s Impact Nowadays
The reason behind the show’s cancellation was Jerry Mathers’ wish to retire from acting, and have a normal high school experience. However, no matter that it’s been 50 years since “Leave It To Beaver” ended, there are still many people out there who love it dearly, whether because it reminds them of their childhood, or because they enjoy its genuine humor.
Besides its many airings on syndication, having two spin-offs and giving birth to a Hollywood film in 1997, to this day the series is available for online streaming services and subscriptions, making its impact in American culture a fact impossible to ignore.