"People say, 'Do you hate to be called 'The Beaver'?' 'Beaver' is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It's made my life. It's something that I can be proud of."
About This Interview
In his nearly four hour interview, Jerry Mathers talks about his start as a child model from the age of two, which led to his acting career in live television in the early 1950s. He describes an early appearance on a western sketch on All Star Revue with Ed Wynn, in which he wore a diaper and six shooters and delivered the line, "I'm the toughest hombre in these here parts." He recalls getting cast in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Trouble With Harry, and describes how, in a real-life fire stunt gone wrong, Bob Hope saved him from the smoke and flames while shooting a scene in The Seven Little Foys. Mathers then speaks in great detail about the role and series for which he is most known, that of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver. He discusses the premise of the show and the significance of its child's point-of-view. He talks about each of the principal cast members, outlines their careers leading up to and following Leave It to Beaver, and recounts the plots of several classic episodes of the series, including "Captain Jack," in which Wally and Beaver secretly keep a pet alligator; "A Horse Named Nick," in which Wally and Beaver accept a horse in payment for work they did at a traveling circus; and "In the Soup," in which Beaver falls into a billboard's soup bowl display. Mathers describes his post-Leave It to Beaver years in which he left show business to earn his degree, served in the National Guard, and worked in banking and real estate. He then describes his return to full-time acting when he went on tour in the stage production "So Long, Stanley," co-starring his on-screen Cleaver brother, Tony Dow. Mathers discusses his return to the role of "Beaver" Cleaver in the 1980's, in the made-for-television movie Still the Beaver and the subsequent series The New Leave It To Beaver. Lastly, Mathers talks about his charitable interests and current projects. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview in Los Angeles, California on June 20, 2006.