‘Leave It to Beaver’: Jerry Mathers Explained Why He ‘Wouldn’t Be Here’ without Bob Hope

by Madison Miller
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Leave it to Jerry Mathers to always be candid. He played the role of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver on the hit sitcom, “Leave It to Beaver.”

A part of the reason he got the role as a young child is due to his personality. He told the producers of the show that he would rather be at his Cub Scout meeting than being there auditioning for the role of Beaver.

Producers of the show loved his blunt and candid energy. He would go on to play the role for six years. However, this wasn’t his first role. Some of his earlier roles included “This Is My Love,” “Men of the Fighting Lady,” and “The Trouble with Harry,”

He also starred in two Bob Hope movies. Hope would go on to have a huge impact on young Jerry Mathers. In fact, he’s part of the reason Jerry Mathers is still alive.

Jerry Mathers and Bob Hope

He had a role in two of Bob Hope’s films before landing his role in “Leave It to Beaver.” The films were “The Seven Little Foys” and “That Certain Feeling.”

“The Seven Little Foys” was a 1955 comedy film starring Hope, George Sanders, and Eva Marie Saint. It was about Eddie Foy, a vaudevillian comedian. His wife died and he took his seven kids on the road with him as he performed his comedy skits.

In one part of the movie, a fire is recreated that took place at a theater Foy performed in. However, the actual fire got out of hand and Mathers had to be rescued.

In an interview with Classic Film & TV, Mathers shared how much appreciation he continues to have for Bob Hope.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Bob Hope … In those days, they didn’t have fire prevention systems and sprinklers. The vaudevillians used candles to light the stage. When they caught on fire, which wasn’t often, people would get trampled on trying to get out … we went to do that scene, I was at the side of a stage sitting in this catwalk and Bob Hope knew that I was up there. When he saw that they put too much gasoline on the curtain, he knew that I was in danger. Everyone else panicked and ran out like they were supposed to, but Bob Hope noticed that I couldn’t get out. He threw a blanket over himself and ran through the flames and got me out. So, he actually saved my life,” Mathers said.

Bob Hope is a highly influential comedian who spent decades making people laugh. While his talent must have had an impact on Mathers in some way, it would never surpass him actually saving his life.

Bob Hope, King of Media

Bob Hope had mastered nearly every form of media. He was on Broadway, the radio, feature films, comedy films, and television.

As a comedian, he was famous for his one-liners and excellent comedic talent. He was a coveted member of the entertainment industry. While he was a hero to Jerry Mathers, he was a hero to many more as well.

According to Biography. com, he used to do overseas tours to entertain American troops. He had gotten over 50 honorary degrees during his life, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. He also became an honorary veteran of the U.S. military service due to his work alongside American soldiers.

Jerry Mathers had the honor of working alongside people like Bob Hope and Alfred Hitchcock before he was even 10. He said in an interview with The Coast News, “I also enjoyed working with Hitchcock and Bob Hope, too. I’d sit on Hitchcock’s lap and learn lines from him. People think he was so scary, but he was very friendly, very professional. A good friend, he’d always wave while driving by in a big limo with a chauffeur.”

Outsider.com