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Updated: June 03, 2023

Jerry Mathers played Theodore Cleaver, "the Beav", on Leave it to Beaver. He was seven years old when the program began, but already an established actor, having previously played Shirley MacLaine's son in Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, Dan Duryea's son in This is My Love, and Bob Hope's son in The Seven Little Foys. When Leave it to Beaver ended, Mathers dropped out of show business and went on to high school, where he tried to fit in as a normal kid, playing sports and dating girls. Within a few years, America was involved in a bloody war in Vietnam, and Mathers was widely rumored to have been a combat casualty. In reality, he tried to enlist in the Marines, but was rejected on account of his celebrity officers feared the inevitable negative repercussions if such an icon of innocence was killed in the war. Instead, Mathers served stateside in the Air National Guard, where he safely survived the 60s. After that he worked as a loan officer in a bank, leaving hundreds of people with the odd experience of having their loan applications rejected or accepted by the Beaver.

In the late 1970s, Mathers and his Beaver brother Tony Dow started touring together in dinner plays. In 1983, the cast of Leave it to Beaver, sans the late Hugh Beaumont, made a TV movie called Still the Beaver, which was followed by several years of The New Leave it to Beaver. In more recent low-budget films, Mathers played a cop in Sexual Malice, an erotic thriller starring Edward Albert, and taught biology in the high school crime caper Better Luck Tomorrow. His autobiography is titled and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

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