‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Jerry Mathers Searched for Decades to Find Co-Star After He Dropped Off the Map

by Samantha Whidden
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Jerry Mathers, who played Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, recently revealed that he spend decades trying to find one of his co-stars after they dropped off the map. 

According to MeTV, the Leave It to Beaver star has been searching for Rusty Stevens. The last time anyone has seen Stevens was in 1963 with his final appearance being on The Rifleman’s Halloween special, “Hostages of Fortune.” Stevens was widely known for playing Larry Mondello on Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1960. He notably appeared in 68 of the hit sitcom’s 234 episodes.

Following the series finale of Leave It to Beaver, Stevens’ parents decided to end his acting contract and left Los Angeles. No one has seen the child actor since. Mathers reportedly told The Pantagraph in 1982, “Nobody could find [Stevens] for the longest time. Everybody lost touch with him.”

Luckily, Mathers eventually found Stevens, who was working as a car insurance salesman in New Jersey. Mathers even convinced Stevens to participate in the Leave It to Beaver reunion movie in 1983. 

Jerry Mathers Opens Up About Starring in ‘Leave It to Beaver’ 

In a 2019 interview with Classic Film TV Cafe, Jerry Mathers sat down and shared more details about his experience on the Leave It to Beaver set. “

“[We worked for] 39 weeks a year and we’d go out after that for a few weeks of promoting and meeting with advertisers in New York and Chicago,” Mathers recalled. He also said that the cast and crew would come back from a short vacation and start filming a new season. “We did that for six years and 234 episodes.”

While also discussing how he and Barbara Billingsley were the only cast members retained from the Leave It to Beaver pilot, Mathers revealed the boy who played Wally had a growth spurt. “When they brought him back several months later, he had gotten really big. And really looked like a big brother. He was almost as tall as Hugh Beaumont, who was 6’1.”

Mathers then said that as for Ward Cleaver, there were several screenings for the Leave It to Beaver main cast part. “They’d bring in people from outside as well as people working in other shows on the lot,” the actor recalled. The producers would also administer a questionnaire asking how the actors liked each character. “For some reason, they decided to replace both of the actors who played Wally and Ward in the pilot.”

In regards to his favorite Leave It to Beaver episodes, Mathers added, “I like the one where I climb up into the soup bowl. That was fun. The show was just a great adventure with a lot of adults around and we just had a good time.”

Outsider.com