“Leave It to Beaver” star Jerry Mathers cemented his place in pop culture history by starring on the classic sitcom as Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver.
But in a 2010 interview with Lawrence Journal-World, Mathers discussed how he even landed the role to begin with. Mathers revealed that he impressed the show’s creators by what he wanted to do off-camera rather than his acting.
When he wasn’t working, Mathers wanted to just be a normal kid and play with his friends. And that’s exactly what the producers were looking for – a normal kid.
“To be honest with you, they were looking for someone whose mother wasn’t pushing them,” Mathers told the outlet. “I had my priorities. Being a child, it didn’t matter whether I worked. I wanted to do things that were fun.”
Jerry Mathers And His Early Career
By that point in his career, Mathers was something of a child acting veteran. He had appeared in numerous productions by then. And the Hollywood limelight and razzle-dazzle didn’t really phase him. He enjoyed the perks of the job. But he also enjoyed just a normal life off-screen.
“Being in the ‘spotlight’ wasn’t anything different for me. I’ve been an actor since I was two years old. I worked with Hitchcock, I did two movies with Bob Hope,” Mathers told Closer Weekly. “I worked as much before ‘Leave It to Beaver’ as I did during it. 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. 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.”
Mathers got his start at an early age in modeling and advertising. His career started after a casting agent approached his mother in a department store about Mathers doing some work. One of his first roles ended up being on the variety show “The Colgate Comedy Hour” as a pint-sized cowboy in diapers.
“They had a different celebrity, usually a comedian, hosting it every week, and it was a skit type of format. My first job was walking into a barroom through a set of swinging doors. And I would just pass under it with this big ten-gallon hat on. I would walk through a bunch of cowboys that were having a fight – breaking bottles and chairs over each other – and they would pick me up and set me on the bar,” Mathers told MeTV.