“Leave it to Beaver” star Karen Sue Trent had some classic Western show roots before joining the classic TV sitcom.
According to MeTV, Trent was in the last episode of “The Rifleman” with Chuck Connors. The West Virginia native appeared as Lorie, riding with her friend Mark. The two race off, jumping over logs and bushes with Mark, the eventual winner. More on that later.
Trent Had Western Success In Short Time
It was the last role for the actress who played in a couple of other notable Westerns like “Death Valley Days” and “Wagon Train.” Her first break came in the scandalous 1954 movie “Garden of Eden” with Mickey Knox and R.G. Armstrong. She played the daughter of a woman who accidentally spends the night at a nudist camp when the family’s car breaks down.
But it was her tomboy role in the “Leave it to Beaver” sitcom with Jerry Mathers opened her up to a nation of viewers.
At 11, Trent appeared in 14 episodes. She was first an unnamed cowgirl who lets Larry and Beav rid her tall horse, Whiskers. Then, throughout her time on the show, the boys warm up to her tough talk and attitude.
Before leaving the show, she got a name, Penny Woods, and even a rival (Judy Hensler). The two girls were very similar, but Penny was more into the horses and had big plans.
Penny and Beaver may have had some connection before she left the show. In the episode “Farewell to Penny,” Beaver refuses to attend her party. But he realizes that he might miss Penny when she’s gone. At the same time, she also reveals that she’s sweet about him too. A twist of fate extends her time in the small Ohio town, but they go back to lobbing insults at each other.
In “The Rifleman,” Trent is back in the boyfriend-girlfriend plot as Lori and Mark share a special moment. They dream about the future, marriage, and how they might work out together, but who knows what happens. Other than some quicksand.
‘Leave it to Beaver” Star Gone, But Not Forgotten
Yep, quicksand reportedly did in the young actress. According to IMDb, Trent got hurt while filming the 26th episode of Season 5 of “The Rifleman,” titled “Old Tony.”
Quicksand traps Lorie and Mark, and production crew members had to rush in and save the 15-year-old. Trent reportedly left the traumatic experience, never wanting to act again. Producers didn’t report the extent of her injuries.
According to an Outsider story, one fan tracked Trent down. However, the interaction with the “Leave it to Beaver” star was less than notable. Trent is in her 70s.
“I did get to talk to Karen,” the fan wrote on his blog about “The Rifleman.” “She was a very interesting person. I could relate to most of the things she had done. I loved listening to her stories.”