‘Leave It To Beaver’ Star Stephen Talbot Recalled His ‘Weird’ Arrangement With the Show

by Joe Rutland

Child actors like Stephen Talbot on the classic TV show Leave It To Beaver did have to work out schedules with producers. Especially when it comes to school and tests. For Talbot, who played Gilbert, one of the Beaver’s good, close friends, he talked about his arrangement with the show.

Beaver got to be, not routine, but it was a job,” Talbot said in an interview with Best Classic Bands. “And it wasn’t every week. I had this really weird arrangement where they would call me up from the studio and say, ‘We’d like Steve to be in next week’s show,’ or two weeks away. My parents would go, ‘How’s school going?’ and I would say, ‘I got a test next week. Can’t miss it,’ or something like that. And they’d go, ‘Sorry. He can’t be in the show,’ and they would go OK. I did pretty well in school in those days, so most of the time it was fine and I would work two or three days on an episode, miss school those days and then come back to school.”

Stephen Talbot of ‘Leave It To Beaver’ Led Pretty Normal Life Away From Show

That’s quite a solid set-up for success. Talbot stayed in the world of acting until he was 14 years old. He did have a regular life away from show business, something a lot of child actors don’t have in their lives. Yet he was playing football and still going to regular school. His family apparently wanted him to have as normal a growing-up experience as one could have as an actor.

Playing that role on Leave It To Beaver opposite Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow let Talbot get a taste of fame. After his acting career, which included stops on Perry Mason and The Lucy Show, ended, Talbot would turn toward two interests: politics and documentaries. As a college student, Talbot was against the Vietnam War. He would find a niche in the documentary field.

In the ensuing years after college, Talbot would go to work for San Francisco public television station KQED. His work as an on-air reporter was accompanied by behind-the-scenes work. Talbot would report on stories affecting the Bay Area and even nationally, too. Some documentary work was done for the parent company, PBS. His acting career called for him to be in front of the camera. This work also put him in front of the camera but in a different way. Talbot would end up working for PBS directly. Still, young Gilbert Bates gets introduced to new generations of fans all the time. Now they know, at least for now, the rest of the story.