‘Leave It to Beaver’: Fans, Family Thought Jerry Mathers Was Killed in National Guard Duty After Show

by Joe Rutland
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Rumors were swirling around “Leave It to Beaver” actor Jerry Mathers that he was killed in Vietnam. He was not, but how does a rumor start?

This one takes a little bit to untangle, so here we go.

‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Mathers Enters National Guard

After high school, though, his options were pretty limited. Remember the timing here, too. Mathers graduated from high school during the Vietnam War.

“I was in the National Guard for six years,” Mathers said in an interview with Television Academy Archive. “Basically, when I graduated from high school, it was 1967 and you had pretty much three choices: you could enlist; you could be drafted, or you could go to Canada. So I enlisted in the National Guard and I spent the next basically six years there.”

He entered the National Guard and there were no deferments offered, so he spent six years serving his country.

Mathers Didn’t Pay Attention To Rumor About His Death

When talking about this rumor referring to his death in Southeast Asia, Jerry Mathers said, “You know, it’s a very, very strange rumor. It’s the kind of thing that when you magnify it over all these numbers of years, it’s hard to really figure out.

“What happened was that I didn’t really pay much attention to it at the time,” he said. “I was in the National Guard when it came out.”

But he was getting people coming up to him and showing Mathers an obituary about, well, Mathers.

“It said, ‘Actor killed in Vietnam,’” he said. “Just kind of a little random note. ‘Jerry Mathers, star of ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ has died in Vietnam.'”

‘Beaver’ Co-Star Sent Flowers To Mathers’ Parents

Mathers did not have a manager or publicist to “quash” the rumor since he wasn’t acting at the time. Even former co-star Tony Dow heard the news, too. Mathers said Dow “actually sent flowers to my parents’ home.”

Obviously, Mathers wasn’t killed in Vietnam. He was focusing his attention on attending college, which was his bigger goal.

“After I finished my military commitment, I ended up going to University of California, Berkeley,” Mathers said. “I have a degree in philosophy from there. I put myself through school with the money I made from ‘Leave It to Beaver.'”

So, in conclusion, the rumor was wrong, Mathers went to college and graduated, and “Leave It to Beaver” helped make that possible for him.

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