Stephen Talbot was a child star during his run on Leave it to Beaver, but he was somehow completely unaware that his castmates like Hugh Beaumont were also classic TV legends.
From 1959 to 1963, Talbot played Gilbert Bates, Beaver’s best friend and famous speaker of the catchphrase, “Gee, Beav, I don’t know.”
While Leave it to Beaver wasn’t the actor’s first screen side appearance, it was his big break. And his rise to stardom happened when he was only 9 years old. So, he was still naive to the realities of Hollywood.
In the show, Talbot played alongside already famous actors like Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley. But because he was so young, he had no idea that he was working in the presence of silver screen greatness. To him, the actors were just like everyone else. And it wasn’t until he was older that he realized just how famous his castmates were.
During an interview with Best Classic Brands, Talbot mentioned that Beaumont was a particularly “interesting guy.” And at the time of filming, he didn’t know that his counterpart had “been in a lot of movies.” However, once he learned the truth, he was enamored.
“He was a very good actor and was in a bunch of film noirs,” said Talbot. “Jerry Mathers always talks about when he [Beaumont] played a hard-ass detective who used to rough people up in questioning.”
‘Leave it to Beaver’s’ Hugh Beaumont Was an Ordained Methodist Minister
Another lesser-known fact about Hugh Beaumont is that he was a Methodist minister before starring as Ward in Leave it to Beaver.
According to The Beaver’s Jerry Mathers, Beaumont graduated from the University of Southern California in 1946 with a Master of Theology.
One of the reasons Beaumont took the gig was to spread his religious values through the wholesome show. In fact, Talbot shared that the church actually openly “encouraged” Beaumont to play the part because of the “good all-American family values” that the writers showcased each week.
“So he took his role seriously,” Talbot continued. “He was a tall man and he was serious most of the time. I was always polite around Hugh Beaumont.”
However, the actor wasn’t happy enough just playing screen side. He “wanted more of a challenge” during his stint with the series. And because of the simplicity of the writing, he grew bored. So to be more content with the job, he asked to guest direct. And the creators allowed it. By the time the show ended in 1963, he had directed 23 episodes.
But most importantly, Stephen Talbot said that Hugh Beaumont was very similar to Ward Cleaver. And perhaps that’s why he took the role and made it legendary.
“He was, again, a very serious, no-nonsense kind of guy,” he admitted, “not that different from his character.”