Though she played many diverse roles in films of the '50s before Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963), slim, blonde, and wholesome-looking Barbara Billingsley will always be best remembered as June Cleaver, one of the greatest mothers in the vast pantheon of television sitcom domestic goddesses. In addition to her filmwork, Billingsley also appeared on a number of television plays on such shows as Four Star Playhouse and Matinee Theater. Following the end of Beaver, Billingsley traveled extensively until the late '70s. She made her acting comeback playing the crazy "Jive Lady" in Airplane (1980). In 1983, she reprised her role as June Cleaver in the television reunion movie Still the Beaver, which spawned a television series by the same name two years later. In 1984, she gave voice to the character of Nanny in Jim Hanson's animated kids' show Muppet Babies. After that, she appeared occasionally in movies and made guest television appearances; in 1997, she played Aunt Martha in the big-screen version of Leave It To Beaver. Billingsley died in 2010 after a long illness.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Began her career as a $60-a-week model in New York City.
- Became the epitome of 1950s apron-wearing, cookie-baking TV moms as June Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver.
- Made a comeback in 1980 as a jive-talking older woman in the comedy Airplane!
- Provided the voice of Nanny in Muppet Babies.