Hugh Beaumont

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For the British theater manager, see Binkie Beaumont.
Hugh Beaumont
Hugh Beaumont 1956.JPG
Beaumont in 1956.
Born Eugene Hugh Beaumont
(1909-02-16)February 16, 1909
Eudora, Kansas, U.S.
Died May 14, 1982(1982-05-14) (aged 73)
Munich, West Germany
Occupation Film, TV, radio actor
Years active 1940-1971
Spouse(s) Kathryn Adams Doty (1942–1974, divorced)
Children 3 children

Eugene Hugh Beaumont (February 16, 1909 – May 14, 1982) was an American actor and television director. He was also licensed to preach by the Methodist church. Beaumont is best known for his portrayal of Ward Cleaver on the television series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963).

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Beaumont was born in Lawrence, Kansas.[1] His parents were Ethel Adaline Whitney and Edward H. Beaumont, a traveling salesman whose profession kept the family on the move.[2] After graduating from Baylor School, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he attended the University of Chattanooga, where he played football.[3] He later studied at the University of Southern California and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946. He married Kathryn Adams in 1942, and the pair had three children.

Career[edit]

Beaumont began his career in show business in 1931 by performing in theaters, nightclubs and radio. He began acting in motion pictures in 1940, appearing in over three dozen films. Many of these roles were not credited. He worked along with another future TV dad, William Bendix, who would star in The Life of Riley in the 1946 film The Blue Dahlia along with Alan Ladd. In 1946-1947, Beaumont starred in five films as private detective Michael Shayne, taking over the role from Lloyd Nolan. Later he acquired his best-known role as the archetypal philosophy-dispensing suburban father, Ward Cleaver, on the popular sitcom television series Leave It to Beaver.

Local legend in Chattanooga says that the name of the fictional town of Mayfield, where the Cleavers lived, actually came from Mayfield Dairy, for which Beaumont had worked while attending school in Chattanooga .[citation needed]

A precursor to his role as the kindly father figure came in Adventures of Superman. In a 1953 episode called The Big Squeeze, he played an ex-convict with a wife and son whose trust he must win back after an apparent return to his criminal past. In 1952, he played the role of Rev. Randy Roberts in an episode of The Lone Ranger".

From 1950 to 1953 Beaumont was the narrator of the Reed Hadley series, Racket Squad, based on the cases of a fictional detective, Captain John Braddock, in San Francisco. In Hadley's second series, The Public Defender, which aired on CBS from 1954 to 1955, Beaumont appeared three times in the role of Ed McGrath.

Before Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley were cast as the concerned parents on Leave It to Beaver, each had appeared separately in the early 1950s on Rod Cameron's syndicated detective series City Detective. Consistent with his interest in the clergy, Beaumont played the Reverend Clifton R. Pond in an episode of the religion anthology series Crossroads.

He also appeared in one of the early episodes of the CBS western series, My Friend Flicka and guest starred in an episode of Frank Lovejoy's detective series, Meet McGraw.[4]

On July 1, 1957, two months before the premiere of Leave It to Beaver, Beaumont played a sympathetic characterization of the western bandit Jesse James on Dale Robertson's NBC series, Tales of Wells Fargo. Bobby Jordan played Bob Ford, the James assailant, but this episode ends some two months before the shooting of James in St. Joseph, Missouri.[5]

Not only did Beaumont act in Leave It to Beaver but he also wrote and directed several episodes, including the retrospective "Family Scrapbook." His portrayal as head of the Cleaver household ranked #28 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in the June 20, 2004, issue.

Beaumont did not much like the role of the patient Ward Cleaver, because he believed it had unfairly typecast him and overshadowed his many other roles in film and on television.[citation needed]

After Leave It to Beaver ended production and went into syndication in the fall of 1963, Beaumont appeared in many community theater productions and played a few guest roles on such television series as Mannix, The Virginian, Wagon Train and Petticoat Junction.

Retirement and death[edit]

Beaumont retired from show business in the late 1960s, launching a second career as a Christmas-tree farmer in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He was forced to retire in 1972 after suffering a stroke from which he never fully recovered. Beaumont and Kathryn Adams divorced in 1974. On May 14, 1982, Beaumont died of a heart attack while visiting his son, a psychology professor, in Munich, Germany. His ashes were scattered on the then family-owned island on Lake Wabana, Minnesota, near Grand Rapids. The 1983 telemovie Still the Beaver was dedicated to Beaumont's memory.

Filmography[edit]

Motion pictures[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1940 Phantom Raiders Seaman (scenes deleted)
The Secret Seven Southern Racketeer (uncredited)
1941 South of Panama Paul Martin
The Cowboy and the Blonde Sound Man (uncredited)
Private Nurse McDonald (uncredited)
Unfinished Business Groom (uncredited)
Week-End in Havana Officer (uncredited)
1942 Wake Island Captain (uncredited)
Right to the Heart Willie Donovan
Young America G-Man
Canal Zone Radio Operator (uncredited)
To the Shores of Tripoli Orderly (uncredited)
The Wife Takes a Flyer Officer (uncredited)
Unseen Enemy Narrator
Flight Lieutenant John McGinnis (uncredited)
1943 Northwest Rangers the Mountie who finds Fowler's body (uncredited)
Flight for Freedom Flight Instructor (uncredited)
He Hired the Boss Jordan
Bombardier Soldier (uncredited)
Good Luck, Mr. Yates Adjutant (uncredited)
Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event George Sharpe
Du Barry Was a Lady Footman (uncredited)
Salute to the Marines Sergeant (uncredited)
The Fallen Sparrow Otto Skaas
The Seventh Victim Gregory Ward
There's Something About a Soldier Lt. Martin
1944 The Racket Man "Irish" Duffy
The Story of Dr. Wassell aide to Admiral Hart in Surabaya
Mr. Winkle Goes to War Ranger Officer (uncredited)
The Seventh Cross Truck Driver (uncredited)
I Love a Soldier John (uncredited)
Strange Affair Detective Carey (uncredited)
They Live in Fear Instructor (uncredited)
Practically Yours Cutter (uncredited)
1945 I'm a Civilian Here Myself Interviewer
Objective, Burma! Capt. Hennessey (uncredited)
Counter-Attack Russian Lieutenant (uncredited)
Blood on the Sun Johnny Clarke (credited)
The Lady Confesses Larry Craig
Blonde from Brooklyn Discharging Lieutenant (uncredited)
You Came Along Chaplain (uncredited)
Apology for Murder Kenny Blake
1946 Murder is My Business Michael Shayne
The Blue Dahlia George Copeland
Johnny Comes Flying Home Engineer (uncredited)
Larceny in Her Heart Michael Shayne
Blonde for a Day Michael Shayne
1947 The Guilt of Janet Ames Frank Merino (uncredited)
Three on a Ticket Michael Shayne
Too Many Winners Michael Shayne
Railroaded! Mickey Ferguson
Bury Me Dead Michael Dunn
1948 Reaching from Heaven Bill Starling
Money Madness Steve Clark (previously known as Freddie Howard)
The Counterfeiters Phillip Drake
1949 Tokyo Joe Major (uncredited)
1950 Second Chance Dr. Emory
The Flying Missile Major Wilson (uncredited)
1951 Target Unknown Colonel (uncredited)
The Last Outpost Lt. Fenton
Danger Zone Dennis O'Brien
Roaring City Denny O'Brien
Go for Broke! Chaplain (uncredited)
Pier 23 Dennis O'Brien
Home Town Story Bob MacFarland (uncredited)
Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell Policeman (uncredited)
Lost Continent Robert Phillips
Callaway Went Thataway Mr. Adkins, Attorney (uncredited)
Overland Telegraph Brad Roberts
1952 Phone Call from a Stranger Dr. Tim Brooks (uncredited)
Bugles in the Afternoon Lt. Cooke (uncredited)
Wild Stallion Capt. Wilmurt
Washington Story Chaplain (uncredited)
Night Without Sleep John Harkness
1953 The Mississippi Gambler Kennerly (uncredited)
The Member of the Wedding Minister (uncredited)
1955 Hell's Horizon Al Trask
1956 The Mole People Dr. Jud Bellamin
1957 Night Passage Jeff Kurth
1965 The Human Duplicators Austin Welles this was his final motion picture role.

In popular culture[edit]

In the early 1980s, a Texas punk rock band combined this actor's name with the name of Jimi Hendrix's band to form The Hugh Beaumont Experience.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Google News Archive". Lawrence Journal World 2/9/1937. 
  2. ^ Hugh Beaumont at rootsweb.com
  3. ^ "Remembering Some Famous Chattanoogans". chattanoogan.com. 
  4. ^ "’’Meet McGraw’’". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ ""Jesse James" on Tales of Wells, Fargo". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  • Applebaum, Irwyn. The World According to Beaver. TV Books, 1984, 1998.
  • Mathers, Jerry. ...And Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver". Berkley Boulevard Books, 1998.

External links[edit]