Mathers in a 1959 publicity shot
|Born||June 2, 1948|
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
|Education||Notre Dame High School|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
|Known for||Portrayal of Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver|
Rhonda Gehring (m. 198?–1997)
|Relatives||Jim Mathers (brother)|
Gerald Patrick Mathers (born June 2, 1948) is an American actor. Mathers is best known for his role in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, originally broadcast from 1957 to 1963, in which he played Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, the younger son of the suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont, respectively) and the brother of Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow).
Early life and family
Mathers was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1948, the son of a high school principal, and grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California. Mathers has three siblings, one sister and two brothers, including Jimmy Mathers.
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 the son of Shirley MacLaine and finds a dead body in the forest.
Leave It to Beaver
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 auditioning for the part. The producers found his candidness appealing and perfect for the role. Mathers played the Beaver for six years, appearing in all 234 episodes of the series. He was the first child actor ever to make a deal to get a percentage of the merchandising revenue from a television show. The Leave It to Beaver show still generates merchandise revenue, many years after its original production run ended.
The original sitcom has been shown in over 80 countries in 40 languages. Mathers has 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!'"
When asked in a 2014 television interview whether he had known at the time of the filming of the Leave it to Beaver series 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.]"
Mathers remained friends with Barbara Billingsley, who played his TV mother, June Cleaver, and 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."
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." During his high school years, Mathers had a band called Beaver and the Trappers.
As he moved into his teenage years, Mathers retired from acting to concentrate on high school. He attended Notre Dame High School, in Sherman Oaks, California. During this time he led a musical band called Beaver and the Trappers. While he was still in high school, Mathers joined the United States Air Force Reserve, in 1966. Wearing his dress uniform, Mathers and child actress Angela Cartwright presented an Emmy award to Gene Kelly in 1967. After graduating from high school in 1967, Mathers continued to serve in the Reserve and made the rank of Sergeant. In December 1969, a rumor began that Mathers was killed in action in the Vietnam War. Although the origin of the rumor is unclear, Mathers never saw action and was never stationed outside of the United States. Years later, 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.
In 1973, Mathers attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He then worked as a commercial loan officer at a bank before using well-invested savings from his acting career, which began at $500 a week, 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 ten weeks in Kansas City. Mathers and Dow then toured the dinner theater circuit in a production of So Long, Stanley for 18 months. In 1981, he worked as a disc jockey at KEZY radio in Anaheim, California.
In 1983, Mathers reprised his role in the television reunion film Still the Beaver, which also featured the majority of the original Leave It to Beaver cast. The success of the television film led to the development of a sequel series, of the same title. The series began airing on the Disney Channel in 1984, then went on to be picked up by TBS and broadcast syndication, where it was retitled The New Leave It to Beaver and ran until 1989.
Mathers has since continued his career in films and television roles. In the 1990s, he guest starred on episodes of Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Vengeance Unlimited, Diagnosis Murder, and as himself on Married... with Children. In 1998, Mathers released his memoirs, And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver.
In 2001, he appeared on a special episode of The Weakest Link titled "Child TV stars edition," where he got voted off in the first round.
In 2018 and 2019, Mathers was seen promoting the Leave It To Beaver television series and other classic television series on the MeTV television network.
Mathers is a former member of the 146AW, California ANG (Air National Guard aka the Hollywood Guard), Van Nuys, California.
Mathers has been married three times. He met his first wife, Diana Platt, in college. She attended Vallejo Senior High in California; class of 1969. They married in 1974 and later divorced. Mathers met his second wife, Rhonda Gehring, while touring in the production of So Long, Stanley. They have three children, a son (Noah) and two daughters (Mercedes and Gretchen). Mathers and Gehring later divorced. Mathers married his third wife, Teresa Modnick, in Huntington Beach on January 30, 2011.
Mathers was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1996. 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). He later became the first male spokesman for Jenny Craig. He has also represented a Type 2 diabetes reversal program's publications in a television ad.
|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|
|2002||Better Luck Tomorrow||Biology Teacher|
|2005||Angels with Angles||Mr. Cohiba|
|2008||Will to Power||Mr. Simpson|
|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||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 and 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||The 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||Leave It to Beaver|
- And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver; Mathers, Jerry and Fagen, Herb; Berkley Trade (1998)
- Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, p. 275.
- 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.
- Foster, Barbara (March 1984). "Celebrity Update". Orange Coast Magazine: 149. ISSN 0279-0483.
- Jerry Mathers on auditioning for "Leave it to Beaver" Emmytvlegends.org video (posted in 2010)
- Robertson, Campbell (June 5, 2007). "And Jerry Mathers as ... Tracy Turnblad's Father?". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Jerry Mathers, the "Beaver," – Guest 02/13/2014". kenboxerlive.com. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- "Barbara Billingsley - A Pearl of a Lady". JerryMathers.com. March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- "Singles Review". Billboard (6–2510): 25. August 25, 1962.
- Hammer, Josh (February 7, 1983). "Still the Beaver After 20 Years, Jerry Mathers Joins Tony Dow for a Bittersweet Return to Mayfield". People. 19 (5). ISSN 0093-7673.
- "Sgt Jerry Mathers". TogetherWeServed.com. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
- Jerry Mathers discusses the urban myth of his "death in Vietnam" Emmytvlegends.org video (posted 2010)
- "Believe It to Beaver". Snopes. January 9, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Jerry Mathers of 'Leave It to Beaver' Now Collegian". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 8, 1970. p. 12–C. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, Rodney Dangerfield, 03/08/80". JT.org.
- "The Odyssey of Child Actor Jerry Mathers: from Beaver to Banker to Real Estate Broker". People. 7 (15). April 18, 1977. ISSN 0093-7673.
- Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0517548554. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
- "Mathers Taking 'Beaver' Persona, Friends To WTBS". The Toledo Blade. Knight Ridder News Service. June 11, 1986. p. P–4. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Child Star Jerry Mathers". Palo Verde Valley Times. North American Precis Syndicate. June 26, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- 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.
- 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.
- Schoenberg, Nara (May 7, 1999). "Catching up with the 50-year-old Beaver". The Robesonian. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Bersebach, Paul (January 30, 2011). "'Leave it to Beaver' star gets hitched in H.B." Orange County Register. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- 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.
- 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.
- "6th Annual Youth in Film Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jerry Mathers.|
- Official website
- Jerry Mathers at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jerry Mathers at IMDb
- Jerry Mathers at the TCM Movie Database
- Jerry Mathers at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- Interview with Jerry Mathers, Montgomery Advertiser, February 10, 2015.
- Interview with Jerry Mathers at Classic Film & TV Cafe, February 11, 2019.