‘Leave it to Beaver’: Jerry Mathers Revealed Reason Why Producers Fell in Love with Him as the Beaver

by Matthew Wilson

“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.