Jerry Mathers

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Jerry Mathers
Mathers in a 1959 publicity shot
Gerald Patrick Mathers

(1948-06-02) June 2, 1948 (age 75)
EducationNotre Dame High School
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
  • Actor
Years active1950–2016
Known forPortrayal of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver
Diana Platt
(m. 1974⁠–⁠1981)
Rhonda Gehring
(before 1997)
Teresa Modnick
(m. 2011)
RelativesJim Mathers (brother)

Gerald Patrick Mathers (born June 2, 1948) is a former American actor best known for his role in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, originally broadcast from 1957 to 1963. He played the protagonist Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, the younger son of the suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont, respectively) and the younger brother of Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow).

Early life and family[edit]

Mathers was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1948, the son of a high school principal, and grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California.[1] Mathers has one sister and two brothers, including Jimmy Mathers.

Early career[edit]

Mathers began his career at the age of 2 when he appeared as a child model for a department store ad.[2] Soon after, he starred in a commercial for PET Milk opposite vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn.[1]

His early movies included This Is My Love (1954), Men of the Fighting Lady (1954), The Seven Little Foys (1955) and Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy The Trouble with Harry (1955), in which he plays Arnie, the son of Shirley MacLaine's character, and finds Harry's body in the nearby forest.

Leave It to Beaver[edit]

Mathers states that he got the role of Beaver Cleaver after telling the show's producers he would rather be at his Cub Scout meeting than to do an audition for the part. The producers found his candor appealing and perfect for the role.[1][3] Mathers played the Beaver for six years, appearing in all 234 episodes of the series. He was the first child actor to have had a deal made on his behalf to get a percentage of the merchandising revenue from a television show. Leave It to Beaver still generates revenue more than six decades after its original production run.

The original sitcom has been shown in over 80 countries in 40 languages. Mathers noted that the Leave It to Beaver phenomenon is worldwide. "I can go anywhere in the world, and people know me," Mathers has said. "In Japan, the show's called The Happy Boy and His Family. So I'll be walking through the airport in Japan, and people will come up and say 'Hi, Happy Boy!'"[4]

When asked in a 2014 television interview whether he had known at the time of the filming of Leave it to Beaver that the show was special, and would be in perpetual syndication, Mathers responded: "No, not at all. I had worked since I was two years old. I did movies. I didn't do any other series, but I had done a lot of movies and things like that so, in fact, every year it was a question whether we would come back for the next year 'cause you had to be picked up. So you would do 39 shows and then we would go to New York and meet all the press, and then we'd go to Chicago to meet the ad people, then we'd come back and take about five to six weeks off, and if we got picked up, then we'd start again. So we did that for six years because that was the length of the contracts at those times. So that's why there are 39 [episodes] for six years, and then it was off the air. Not off the air, but we didn't film any new ones [after that.]"[5]

Mathers remained friends with Barbara Billingsley, who played his TV mother June Cleaver, and he remembered her after her death as "a good friend and an even better mentor. For me she was like the favorite teacher that we all had in school."[6]


In 1962, near the end of the run of Leave It to Beaver, Mathers recorded two songs for a single 45 rpm: "Don't 'Cha Cry," and for the flip side, the twist ditty "Wind-Up Toy".[7] During high school, Mathers had a band named Beaver and the Trappers.[8]

Education and military service[edit]

Mathers in U.S. Air Force uniform

As he moved into his adolescence, Mathers retired from acting to concentrate on high school. He attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. During this time, he led the musical band Beaver and the Trappers.[1]

While still in high school, Mathers joined the U.S. military. From 1966 to 1969, he was a member of the 146th Airlift Wing, nicknamed The Hollywood Guard,[9] of the California Air National Guard in Van Nuys, California.[10][11] In 1967, while wearing his dress uniform, Mathers, along with child actress Angela Cartwright, presented an Emmy Award to Gene Kelly. In December 1969, a rumor began that Mathers was killed in action in the Vietnam War. Although the origin of the rumor is unclear,[12] Mathers never saw action and was never stationed outside the United States.[13][14] In 1980, Mathers and Dow appeared with Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update segment, making fun of the Vietnam War death rumor.[15]

Mathers graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from University of California, Berkeley in 1973.[16]

Later career[edit]

Jerry Mathers in 2021
Mathers in 2021

After college, Mathers worked as a commercial loan officer at a bank. He then used well-invested savings from his acting career, in which he earned a starting weekly salary of $500,[17] to begin a career in real estate development.

In 1978, he reentered the entertainment industry. That year, he and Tony Dow starred in a production of the comedy play Boeing, Boeing which ran for 10 weeks in Kansas City, Missouri. Mathers and Dow then toured the dinner theater circuit in a production of So Long, Stanley, written specifically for the TV brother duo, for 18 months.[18]

In 1981, he worked as a disc jockey at KEZY radio in Anaheim, California.[8]

In 1983, Mathers reprised his role in the television reunion film Still the Beaver, which featured the majority of the original cast from Leave It to Beaver.[8] The success of the television movie led to the development of a series with the same title. The series began airing on the Disney Channel in 1984, then aired on TBS and broadcast syndication, where it was retitled The New Leave It to Beaver and ran until 1989.[19]

In the 1990s, Mathers guest-starred on episodes of Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Vengeance Unlimited, Diagnosis: Murder, and as himself on Married... with Children. In 1998, he released his memoir And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver.[20]

In 2001, he appeared on a special episode of Weakest Link, titled "Child TV stars edition," where he got voted off in the first round. On June 5, 2007, he made his Broadway debut with a starring role as Wilbur Turnblad in the musical Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre.[4] In 2009, Mathers became the national spokesman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and its Partnership for Prescription Assistance.[21]

In 2018 and 2019, Mathers promoted Leave It to Beaver and other classic television shows on MeTV.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Mathers in 2007

Mathers has been married three times. He met his first wife, Diana Platt, in college. They married in 1974 and later divorced.[16][22] Mathers met his second wife, Rhonda Gehring, while touring in the production of So Long, Stanley. They have three children: Noah, Mercedes, and Gretchen. Mathers and Gehring divorced in 1997.[23] Mathers married his third wife, Teresa Modnick, on January 30, 2011.[24]


Mathers was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1996.[25] On the advice of his doctor, Mathers enrolled in a weight loss program with Jenny Craig in May 1997 and lost over 40 lb (18 kg),[20] and later became the company's first male spokesperson.[26][8] He represented a Type 2 diabetes reversal program's publications in a television ad.[27]


Year Title Role Notes
1952 Son of Paleface Child at Finale Uncredited
1954 Men of the Fighting Lady Richard Dodson Uncredited
1954 This Is My Love David Myer
1955 The Seven Little Foys Bryan Lincoln Foy - Age 5 Uncredited
1955 The Trouble with Harry Arnie Rogers
1956 That Certain Feeling Norman Taylor
1956 Bigger Than Life Freddie Uncredited
1957 The Shadow on the Window Petey Atlas
1958 The Deep Six Steve Innes Uncredited
1987 Back to the Beach Judge #2
1990 Down the Drain Policeman (desk)
1994 The Other Man Sergeant Dun Alternative title: Sexual Malice
1998 Playing Patti
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Biology Teacher
2005 Angels with Angles Mr. Cohiba
2008 Will to Power Mr. Simpson
Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Trick-or-treating Child Episode: "Halloween Party"
1955 Lux Video Theatre Little Boy Episode: "The Great McGinty"
1955 General Electric Theater Tommy Episode: "Into the Night"
1955 NBC Matinee Theater Episode: "Santa is no Saint"
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse Peter at 5 Episode: "It's a Most Unusual Day"
1957–1963 Leave It to Beaver Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver 234 episodes
1963 Insight Episode: "The Boy and the Bomb"
1966 The Dating Game Himself
1968 Batman Pop, the Stage Doorman Episode: "The Great Escape"
1968 Lassie Ken Hines Episode: "Lassie and the 4-H Boys"
1970 My Three Sons Joe Lawrie Episode: "Love Thy Neighbor"
1978 Flying High Chuck Wallace Episode: "Fear of Cheesecake"
1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite Deputy Henry Thomas Watts Television film
1983 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour Himself Game Show Participant / Celebrity Guest Star
1983 Still the Beaver Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver Television film
1983–1989 The New Leave It to Beaver Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver 101 episodes
1984 Hardcastle and McCormick Cameo Appearance Season 1; Episode 19 "The Homecoming: Part 2"
1987 The Love Boat "Beaver" Cleaver Episode: "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?"
1991 Married... with Children Himself Episode: "You Better Shop Around (Part 2)"
1991 Parker Lewis Can't Lose Theodore Musso Episode: "Jerry: Portrait of a Video Junkie"
1999 Vengeance Unlimited Lucas Zimmerman Episode: "Friends"
1999 Diagnosis: Murder Mr. Lustig Episode: "Trash TV: Part One"
2001 Weakest Link Himself Child TV Stars Edition
2006 The War at Home Principal Episode: "Back to School"
2008 Mother Goose Parade Television film


Year Award Category Title of work
1984 Young Artist Award Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award[28] Leave It to Beaver


  • Mathers, Jerry; Fagen, Herb (1998). And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver. Berkley Trade. ISBN 978-0-4251-6370-2.
  • Holmstrom, John (1996). The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich: Michael Russell. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-8595-5178-6.


  1. ^ a b c d O'Toole, Caitlin (May 14, 2007). "Interview with Jerry Mathers: 'I've Had a Charmed Life'". Parade. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  2. ^ Foster, Barbara (March 1984). "Celebrity Update". Orange Coast Magazine. p. 149. ISSN 0279-0483.
  3. ^ Jerry Mathers on auditioning for "Leave it to Beaver" Emmy TV Legends video. (posted in 2010)
  4. ^ a b Robertson, Campbell (June 5, 2007). "And Jerry Mathers as ... Tracy Turnblad's Father?". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "Jerry Mathers, the "Beaver," – Guest 02/13/2014". February 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "Barbara Billingsley - A Pearl of a Lady". March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  7. ^ "Singles Review". Billboard. No. 6–2510. August 25, 1962. p. 25.
  8. ^ a b c d Hammer, Josh (February 7, 1983). "Still the Beaver After 20 Years, Jerry Mathers Joins Tony Dow for a Bittersweet Return to Mayfield". People. Vol. 19, no. 5. ISSN 0093-7673.
  9. ^ Ulber, Michelle (June 13, 2020). "'Hollywood Guard' reaches milestone with 6-ship formation flight". 146th Airlift Wing. Archived from the original on December 3, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  10. ^ "1966 - Gerald Patrick 'Jerry' Mathers is an actor who served in the California Air National Guard from 1966 to 1969". Air National Guard. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  11. ^ Searles, Jack (April 27, 1990). "Air Wing That Reached the Stars Has a New Home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  12. ^ Jerry Mathers discusses the urban myth of his "death in Vietnam" Emmy TV Legends video (posted 2010)
  13. ^ "Believe It to Beaver". Snopes. January 9, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  14. ^ "Jerry Mathers of 'Leave It to Beaver' Now Collegian". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 8, 1970. p. 12–C. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  15. ^ "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, Rodney Dangerfield, 03/08/80". 8 October 2018.
  16. ^ a b "The Odyssey of Child Actor Jerry Mathers: from Beaver to Banker to Real Estate Broker". People. Vol. 7, no. 15. April 18, 1977. ISSN 0093-7673.
  17. ^ Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-5175-4855-4. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  18. ^ Cowan, Richard (November 18, 1979). "It's Wally and the Beaver". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2023.
  19. ^ "Mathers Taking 'Beaver' Persona, Friends To WTBS". The Toledo Blade. Knight Ridder News Service. June 11, 1986. p. P–4. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Child Star Jerry Mathers". Palo Verde Valley Times. North American Precis Syndicate. June 26, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  21. ^ Pulliam, John R. (April 6, 2009). "'The Beav' pitches prescription assistance". The Register-Mail. Galesburg. Archived from the original on February 20, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  22. ^ Reilly, Pattie (May 5, 1980). "Leave It to Beaver: Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers Find a New Channel for Their Talent—Dinner Theater". People. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  23. ^ Schoenberg, Nara (May 7, 1999). "Catching up with the 50-year-old Beaver". The Robesonian. Lumberton, North Carolina. p. 4B. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  24. ^ Bersebach, Paul (January 30, 2011). "'Leave it to Beaver' star gets hitched in H.B." Orange County Register. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  25. ^ Trecroci, Daniel (August 1, 1999). "Jerry Mathers Leaves it to Weight Loss to Control His Diabetes". Diabetes Health. Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  26. ^ Schoenberg, Nara (29 September 2005). "The Beaver' stops leaving life to chance". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  27. ^ Mathers, Jerry (January 16, 2016). Diabetes Solution Kit (Television advertisement). Barton Publishing. I'm Jerry Mathers, and if I can do it, you can do it.
  28. ^ "6th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011.

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