How ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Jerry Mathers Helped Create an Iconic Horror Prop

by Caitlin Berard

As an adorable child star with an unfailingly positive attitude, Jerry Mathers made quite a few famous friends during his time as Beaver Cleaver on the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver. In addition to befriending his many fellow child stars, Jerry found himself in the company of Hollywood legends such as Alfred Hitchcock.

The award-winning filmmaker was often seen near the Leave It to Beaver set, as his spine-chilling thriller series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, was filmed a mere three stages away. Hitchcock was so close with the sitcom crew, in fact, that he enlisted the help of Leave It to Beaver makeup artist Robert Dawn in Psycho, the 1960 film that would change the horror genre forever.

Enthralled by the macabre set pieces, a 12-year-old Jerry Mathers asked if he could help put together the prop that would eventually provide the centerpiece for one of the biggest reveals in cinema history – Mrs. Bates’ skull.

“Like his father, Jack Dawn, Bob was also one of the top make-up artists in Hollywood,” Mathers recalled in a post on his website. “Especially for specialty make-up. While [Bob Dawn] was working on our show, Alfred Hitchcock hired him to prepare a skull for the final scenes of Psycho.”

“He brought it to our set to age it and glue long hair on it to make it look like the corpse of Mrs. Bates,” he continued. “He had to apply each strand one by one. I was fascinated and asked him if I could help. He said ‘yes’ and for the next few days, with his guidance, I attached some hair strands one by one on the skull. As a young boy, I thought, what could be cooler than this!!!”

‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Jerry Mathers Once Recalled His ‘Fabulous’ Life as a Child Star

Helping create one of the most iconic props of all time was just one of the amazing opportunities Jerry Mathers was given during his time on Leave It to Beaver. According to Jerry Mathers, his childhood was nothing short of a magical experience.

Contrary to what you might expect, he was never harassed in public. In fact, Jerry Mathers said people hardly paid attention to him at all. This anonymity allowed him to lead a normal, albeit charmed, life away from the set.

“I worked as much before Leave It to Beaver as I did during it,” Mathers explained. “Plus, people don’t pay a lot of attention to kids. Some people would recognize me on the street, but not that many.”

“It was just a really good life,” he continued. “I had a great education. And I got to do some fabulous things, like getting a private tour of the Smithsonian. Any place we went, we were singled out pretty much and got great treatment. Just a fantastic life for a kid.”