'Leave It to Beaver' Facts That Fans Might Not Know about the '60s Show
An epic family comedy that revolved around the lives of a family living in the suburbs, "Leave It to Beaver" captures the essence of being a child during the 1950s by following the adventures of a curious boy named Theodore aka "The Beaver."
It's been over five decades since the hit show "Leave It to Beaver" ended, but fans still remember the adventures of little Theodore who breathed life into the series.
The series was so popular that a television movie "Still the Beaver" was made in 1983. A follow-up series called "The New Leave It To Beaver" followed in 1983 which featured the original characters as the older generation.
Today, many of the show's cast members including Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver), Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver), and Frank Dank (Lumpy Rutherford), are no longer alive, but the memories of them are still fresh. Let's take a look at 15 "Leave It to Beaver" facts that fans might not know.
1. Sputnik was launched the same day as the show.
The Soviet Union announced that it had launched "Sputnik I" into space on October 4, 1963, the same day the show debuted.
2. It was the first TV show to have toilet scenes.
Toilet scenes were not shown on television back then, but "Leave It to Beaver" became the first although it was just the tank. The boys were often shown in the bathroom.
3. "The Beaver" was on "I Love Lucy"
Before he was a Beaver, actor Jerry Mathers was Little Ricky on the show "I Love Lucy" for one scene. That was four years before "Leave It to Beaver" aired.
4. Jerry Mathers wore his Cub Scouts uniform to the audition.
Jerry Mathers was around 8-years-old at the time he auditioned for the role. He would wear his Cub Scouts uniform to the several rounds of audition and tell everyone that he was anxious to get to his den.
5. The show initially had a different name.
Originally, the pilot for the show was titled "It's a Small World." It aired as an installment of "Heinz Studio 57," an anthology series.
6. Wally was replaced due to a growth spurt.
Paul Sullivan, who initially portrayed Wally, was replaced by Tony Dow after going through a growth spurt following the filming of the pilot episode.
7. The show was canceled after the first season.
"Leave It to Beaver" might be a hit series of its time, but initially it was canceled by CBS after the first season ended in 1958. Luckily, ABC aired the rest of the five seasons later on.
8. The most expensive episode of the show was "In the Soup."
The season four episode shows Beaver stuck inside a giant bowl of soup on a billboard after he went to see if there was real soup in there. The episode cost a whopping $50,000 to film at the time. The sum would amount to over $400,000 today.
9. Mathers became the first child to get a cut of merchandise revenue at the time.
There were tons of brands ranging from board games to comic books that were featured during the show. Jerry got a cut of the revenue from all those products, becoming the first child during the time to have had such an opportunity.
10. It wasn't a top-rated show.
"Leave It to Beaver" never made it to Nielsen's list of the top 30 shows of the time since there were a plethora of classic shows running at the time.
11. There is a reason why Barbara Billingsley wore all those pearls and high heels.
Barbara's June wore formal attire along with pearls and heels during the show, but it wasn't all about style. The actress wore pearls to conceal the hollow in her neck. As for the heels, she wore them to appear taller than the boys as they grew up.
12. It was one of the first shows to have a planned series finale.
While most of the shows back in the 1960s ended abruptly, "Leave It to Beaver" bid farewell with a look back to its previous episodes in "Family Scrapbook."
13. Fans can still visit the Cleaver Home.
When the production for the show moved from the Republic Studios to Universal, they built a new version of the original house. Fans can enjoy a tour of the iconic place even today.
14. The show intentionally avoided big laughs.
Low-key humor was the show's priority and the jokes were intended not to get big laughs.
15. The stars reunited several times.
Even after the show ended, fans hadn't had enough of the Cleaver family. In 1983, the cast got together again for the filming of the TV movie "Still the Beaver." Later on, they reunited again to film the sequel series "The New Leave It to Beaver."