Jerry Mathers

Active - 1954 - 2006  |   Born - Jun 2, 1948 in Sioux City, Iowa, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Child actor Jerry Mathers began picking up modeling work at the age of two. His first TV appearance was on Ed Wynn's variety show in 1950. Among Mather's larger film roles were the son of Shirley MacLaine in Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry (1955) and the son of Bob Hopeand Eva Marie Saint in That Certain Feeling (1955). In 1956, Mathers was cast as all-American kid Theodore "Beaver" Clever in It's a Small World, an unsold pilot film that showed up on the syndicated anthology Studio 57. One year later, a heavily revamped and recast It's a Small World re-emerged as the weekly sitcom Leave It to Beaver, with Mathers in the title role. He starred in 234 episodes of Beaver from 1957 through 1963, literally growing up before the eyes of the nation. Unable to sustain his acting career into his teen years, Mathers quit show business for nearly a decade, attending UCLA, selling real estate, and denying rumors that he'd been killed in Vietnam. In 1983, Mathers starred in the "retro" made-for-TV film Still the Beaver, which evolved into a moderately successful weekly cable series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985-89), Essentially, Mathers played himself: a middle-aged divorced father, wondering just what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Jerry Mathers' professional life in the 1990s has been a maelstrom of personal appearances, TV guest shots, and punchline bits on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.

Movie Highlights

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  • Appeared in a television commercial for PET milk at age 2.
  • Was given the part of "The Beaver" in Leave It to Beaver after he told producers that he would rather be at his Cub Scout meeting than auditioning.
  • Left television at the conclusion of Leave It to Beaver in 1963 to focus on school.
  • Reunited with a few members of the original cast to star in the New Leave It to Beaver series in the 1980s.
  • Lost 55 pounds after being diagnosed with diabetes.