CelebrityHollywood

October 20, 2021

Jerry Mathers & Tony Dow’s Lives after ‘Leave It to Beaver’ & How the Iconic Show Changed Them

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Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow became prominent faces after their time on the 1957's hit sitcom "Leave It to Beaver." However, years after the show ended, the on-screen brothers are still in the spotlight.

Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers are best known for their roles on "Leave It to Beaver," which aired from 1957 to 1963. After their time on the show, they continued reaching for the stars and made remarkable impacts in showbiz.

On the hit sitcom, Dow starred as Wally Cleaver, the oldest son of June and Ward, played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont, respectively. Mathers played the suburban couple's younger son Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver.

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Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow in the sitcom "Leave it to Beaver." | Photo: Getty Images

MATHERS AND DOW

Born Gerald Patrick Mathers, on June 2, 1948, Mathers started his early life in Sioux City, Iowa. He is also a film director known for movies including "The Trouble with Harry" in 1955, "Leave It to Beaver" in 1957, and 1977's "The Love Boat."

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Anthony Lee Dow is an American film producer, director, sculptor, and television actor. He was born on April 13, 1945, in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Apart from his role on "Leave It to Beaver," the actor is also known for his appearance on "Babylon 5" and "Deep Space Nine" in 1993.

Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow in a promtional photo for 'Leave it to Beaver' on July 1, 1961. | Photo: Getty Images

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Dow has been married to Lauren Shulkind since June 16, 1980, and the couple has one child. The actor was initially married to Carol Marie Theresa Marlow.

His "Leave It to Beaver" brother, Mathers, has also been married to Teresa Modnick since January 30, 2011. Before Modnick, Mathers was married to Rhonda Gehring and Diana Platt.

Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow in a promtional photo for 'Leave it to Beaver' on July 1, 1961. | Photo: Getty Images

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LIFE AFTER "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER"

The hit TV sitcom was about the absolute family lifestyle in the '50s. It shared the story of a kind husband who rules with absolute authority, a wife who cleans the home and keeps everything appropriate while dolling up in fancy dresses, high heels, and pearls, and children who are expected to follow the rules.

The production shows young Theodore, who lives with his parents and older brother Wally as a curious kid. His father tries to bring him up the right way and gives him advice when he gets into trouble at school or home.

Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow in a promtional photo for 'Leave it to Beaver' on July 1, 1960. | Photo: Getty Images

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While speaking on the program, Dow once noted that most of the stories on the classic family sitcom were based on real events. He remembered how the writers would sometimes come up with elaborate lines, and the director would kick against the idea.

The show kept fans entertained for years, and it appeared that years after it ended, it continued to keep viewers glued to the screen.

During an interview, Mathers revealed that he once attended a Christmas event for underprivileged kids and was surprised that the new generation knew about "Leave It to Beaver."

Actor Tony Dow arrives at the Paley Center for Media's PaleyFest: Rewind - "Leave It To Beaver" at The Paley Center for Media on June 21, 2010. | Photo: Getty Images

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However, it is no secret that the hit sitcom's cast is much older now, and fans have stopped seeing some of their faces in the media. However, as times evolved, the "Leave It to Beaver" stars also changed.

THE CAST OF "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER"

Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver) was born on February 16, 1909, in Eudora, Kansas. He began his career in Hollywood in 1931, performing on radio, in nightclubs, and theaters. He made his screen debut with a small role in the 1940's "Phantom Raiders."

After the reunion, the cast members went their separate ways for another 40 years.

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Actor Jerry Mathers attends "Small Mouth Sounds" opening night at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage on January 12, 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

Before starring on "Leave It to Beaver," he already made appearances in about 86 movies. But after the hit TV sitcom, he appeared in one movie, "The Human Duplicators," in 1965. The actor now spends his time away from the cameras with his family.

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Dave Sundstrom, a YouTube user who makes videos about movies and music in the '60s, once noted that Beaumont also wanted to be a man of God.

He was married to Kathryn Adams Doty in 1941 until they divorced in 1974. They are parents to three children Hunter, Kristy, and Mark.

Actor Tony Dow attends the The Actors Fund's 2015 Looking Ahead Awards at Taglyan Cultural Complex on December 3, 2015. | Photo: Getty Images

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Sundstrom confirmed that Beaumont loved spending time with his family in Minnesota during his breaks. The actor died of a heart attack on May 14, 1982, and following his death, Hugh Beaumont was remembered by family and friends for his positivity.

His "Leave It to Beaver" wife Barbara Billingsley also took uncredited roles in many movies. She starred in "Professional Father" in 1955 and "The Brothers" in the following year. However, her role as June Cleaver was one of her most remarkable ever.

Away from the movie industry, Billingsley was a mother to two children and was married three times in her lifetime. She was first married to Glen Billingsley in 1941, and they divorced in 1947.

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Actor Jerry Mathers attends the 87th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 25, 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

She later married Roy Kellino from 1953 until he passed away in 1956, then William Mortensen from 1959 until he had the same fate in 1981. Billingsley died of polymyalgia at 94 on October 16, 2010.

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Dow, who starred as Wally Cleaver, wasn't interested in acting when he got his first role. Although Dow's mother was a stunt woman, the then young star wanted to do other things.

It appeared that Dow accidentally became an actor. Once speaking during an interview, he noted that he was a swimmer, and as a 9-year-old, he had a national record. 

Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers at 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

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His career as a swimmer continued until one day, a lifeguard who was also an actor went for a father and son audition and took him along because they looked alike. After their performance, Dow got the role even as a novice, starting his showbiz career.

Mathers (The Beaver) started his career at the age of 2 as a model for a department store. He also appeared with Vaudeville Comedian Ed Wynn in a PET Milk commercial.

Apart from "Leave It to Beaver," Dow made appearances in "This Is My Love" in 1954, "Men of the Fighting Lady" in 1954, "The Seven Little Foys" in 1955, and "Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry" in 1955.

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"LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" ANNIVERSARIES

Twenty years after the famous TV family show ended, the cast reunited on Mayfield, and the once young actors were much older. Sadly June was already a widow as Ward had passed away.

The homecoming was reportedly a wonderful experience for the cast as it brought back wonderful memories. Mathers was enthusiastic about the reunion and noted that it was nice seeing the cast after many years.

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After the reunion, the cast members went their separate ways for another 20 years. Billingsley and Beaumont weren't present this time as they had both passed away, but Mathers and Dow reunited again, looking much older with grey hairs.

As the two actors remembered their parts on the show, Dow noted that it was an interesting production, and one could just sit in front of the TV and enjoy "Leave It to Beaver" after a stressful day. 

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Mathers noted during an interview that although he had starred in different movies after the hit family sitcom and was even in the spotlight before the show, people continued to recognize him for his character on the show.

Nonetheless, for Mathers, it was pleasant to be remembered for "something that's so well recognized" after so many years. During the show's 60th anniversary, Dow noted that it was nice to be remembered in any way possible.

He explained that he was very appreciative of the show, and it was nice that the sitcom was still relevant after 60 years.

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