Jerry Mathers

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Jerry Mathers
Jerry Headshot.jpg
in 2007
BornGerald Patrick Mathers
(1948-06-02) June 2, 1948 (age 65)
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesJerry Mather
EducationNotre Dame High School
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
OccupationActor
Years active1950–present
Known forPortraying Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver
Spouse(s)Diana Platt (m. 1974–81)
Rhonda Mathers (m.?-?)
Teresa Modnick (m. 2011)
Children3
RelativesJim Mathers (brother)
Website
www.jerrymathers.com
 
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Jerry Mathers
Jerry Headshot.jpg
in 2007
BornGerald Patrick Mathers
(1948-06-02) June 2, 1948 (age 65)
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesJerry Mather
EducationNotre Dame High School
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
OccupationActor
Years active1950–present
Known forPortraying Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver
Spouse(s)Diana Platt (m. 1974–81)
Rhonda Mathers (m.?-?)
Teresa Modnick (m. 2011)
Children3
RelativesJim Mathers (brother)
Website
www.jerrymathers.com

Gerald Patrick "Jerry" Mathers (born June 2, 1948) is an American television, film, and stage actor. Mathers is best known for his role in the television sitcom series Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963), in which he played Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, the younger son of archetypal suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver (played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont), and the brother of Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow).

Early acting career[edit]

Mathers was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of a high school principal. He has two younger siblings, Susie and Jim Mathers, who also became child actors. Mathers began his career at the age of 2 when he appeared as a child model for a department store ad.[1] Soon after, he starred in a commercial for PET Milk opposite vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn.[2]

His early movies included This is My Love (1954), Men of the Fighting Lady (1954), The Seven Little Foys (1955) and The Trouble with Harry (1955).

Leave It to Beaver[edit]

Mathers in a 1959 publicity shot

Mathers reportedly got the role of Beaver Cleaver when he told 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.[2] 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 today, 48 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!'"[3]

Music[edit]

In 1962, near the end of the run of Leave It to Beaver, Mathers recorded two songs for a single 45rpm: "Don't 'Cha Cry", a retread of "Spanish Harlem" and for the flip side, the twist ditty, "Wind-Up Toy".[4] During his high school years, Mathers had a band called Beaver and the Trappers.[5]

Later career[edit]

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. While he was still in high school, Mathers joined the Air Force Reserve. He appeared as a presenter at the 1967 Emmy Awards ceremony in his dress uniform. After graduating 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 origins of the rumor is unclear, Mathers never saw action and was never stationed outside of the United States.[6][7] 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.[8]

Mathers later attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1973. 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,[9] to begin a career in real-estate development. In 1978, he reentered the entertainment industry. That year, he and Tony Dow starred in the 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-AM radio in Anaheim, California.[5]

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.[5] The success of the television film led to the development of a sequel series of the same name. 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.[10]

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, and Diagnosis Murder. In 1998, Mathers released his memoirs, And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver.[11] On June 5, 2007, he made his Broadway debut with a starring role as Wilbur Turnblad in the Tony winning best musical Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theater.[3]

Other ventures[edit]

In addition to acting, Mathers has also owned and operated a catering business and has done commercial work for national and regional spots for advertisers such as PET Condensed Milk, Kellogg’s (he and Tony Dow were the first non-athletes on a box of corn flakes), General Electric, Purina, Kern International, Chevrolet, Toyota, General Mills, AOL, Coca Cola, Jim Beam and Biogen.

In 2009, Mathers became the national spokesman for PhRMA and their Partnership for Prescription Assistance program. The organization helps uninsured and financially struggling patients obtain prescription medicines.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Mathers has been married three times. He met his first wife, Diana Platt, in college. They married in 1974 and later divorced.[13][14] 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.[15] Mathers married his third wife, Teresa Modnick, in Huntington Beach on January 30, 2011.[16]

Diabetes[edit]

Mathers was diagnosed with Diabetes in 1996.[17] On the advice of his doctor, Mathers enrolled in a weight loss program with Jenny Craig in May 1997 and lost over 40 pounds.[11] He later became the first male spokesperson for Jenny Craig.[5]

Filmography[edit]

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1952Son of PalefaceChild at FinaleUncredited
1954Men of the Fighting LadyRichard DodsonUncredited
1954This Is My LoveDavid Myer
1955The Seven Little FoysBryan Lincoln Foy - Age 5Uncredited
1955The Trouble with HarryArnie Rogers
1956That Certain FeelingNorman Taylor
1956Bigger Than LifeFreddieUncredited
1957The Shadow on the WindowPetey Atlas
1958The Deep SixSteve InnesUncredited
1987Back to the BeachJudge #2
1990Down the DrainPoliceman (desk)
1994The Other ManSergeant DunAlternative title: Sexual Malice
1998Playing Patti
2002Better Luck TomorrowBiology Teacher
2005Angels with AnglesMr. Cohiba
2008Will to PowerMr. Simpson
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1952The Adventures of Ozzie and HarrietTrick Or Treating ChildEpisode: "Halloween Party"
1953I Love LucyDream Little RickyEpisode: "Ricky's Old Girlfriend"
Uncredited
1955Lux Video TheatreLittle BoyEpisode: "The Great McGinty"
1955General Electric TheaterTommyEpisode: "Into the Night"
1955Matinee TheaterEpisode: "Santa is no Saint"
1956Screen Directors PlayhousePeter at 5Episode: "It's a Most Unusual Day"
1957–1963Leave It to BeaverTheodore "Beaver" Cleaver234 episodes
1963InsightEpisode: "The Boy and the Bomb"
1968BatmanPop, the Stage DoormanEpisode: "The Great Escape"
Uncredited
1968LassieKen HinesEpisode: "Lassie and the 4-H Boys"
1970My Three SonsJoe LawrieEpisode: "Love Thy Neighbor"
1978Flying HighChuck WallaceEpisode: "Fear of Cheesecake"
1981The Girl, the Gold Watch and DynamiteDeputy Henry Thomas WattsTelevision film
1983Still the BeaverTheodore "Beaver" CleaverTelevision film
1983–1989The New Leave It to BeaverTheodore "Beaver" Cleaver101 episodes
1984Hardcastle and McCormickBeaverEpisode: " The Homecoming: Part 2"
Uncredited
1984High School U.S.A.Mr. SirotaTelevision film
1987The Love Boat"Beaver" CleaverEpisode: "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?"
1991Married... with ChildrenSelfEpisode: "You Better Shop Around (Part 2)"
1991Parker Lewis Can't LoseTheodore MussoEpisode: "Jerry: Portrait of a Video Junkie"
1999Vengeance UnlimitedLucas ZimmermanEpisode: "Friends"
1999Diagnosis: MurderMr. LustigEpisode: "Trash TV - Part One"
2006The War at HomePrincipalEpisode: "Back to School"
2008Mother Goose ParadeTelevision film

Awards[edit]

YearAwardCategoryTitle of work
1984Young Artist AwardFormer Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award[18]Leave It to Beaver

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Foster, Barbara (March 1984). "Celebrity Update". Orange Coast Magazine (Emmis Communications): 149. ISSN 0279-0483. 
  2. ^ a b "Interview with Jerry Mathers: 'I've Had a Charmed Life'". parade.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Robertson, Campbell (June 5, 2007). "And Jerry Mathers as ... Tracy Turnblad’s Father?". nytimes.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Singles Review". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) (0006-2510): 25. August 25, 1962. 
  5. ^ 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 19 (5). ISSN 0093-7673. 
  6. ^ "Believe It to Beaver". snopes.com. January 9, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Jerry Mathers of 'Leave It to Beaver' Now Collegian". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 8, 1970. pp. 12–C. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Saturday Night Live Transcripts, Rodney Dangerfield, 03/08/80". 
  9. ^ Lamparski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of ...? Eighth Series. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 200–1. ISBN 0-517-54855-0. 
  10. ^ "Mathers Taking 'Beaver' Persona, Friends To WTBS". Toledo Blade. June 11, 1986. pp. P–4. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Child Star Jerry Mathers". Palo Verde Valley Times. June 26, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ Pulliam, John R. (April 6, 2009). "‘The Beav’ pitches prescription assistance". galesburg.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Odyssey of Child Actor Jerry Mathers: from Beaver to Banker to Real Estate Broker". People 7 (15). April 18, 1977. ISSN 0093-7673. 
  14. ^ Reilly, Pattie (May 5, 1980). "Leave It to Beaver: Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers Find a New Channel for Their Talent—Dinner Theater". people.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  15. ^ Schoenberg, Nara (May 7, 1999). "Catching up with the 50-year-old Beaver". The Robesonian. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  16. ^ Bersebach, Paul (January 30, 2011). "'Leave it to Beaver' star gets hitched in H.B.". ocregister.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  17. ^ Jerry Mathers Leaves it to Weight Loss to Control His Diabetes
  18. ^ "6th Annual Youth in Film Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]