The man who played one of the most recognized characters in television was in Iowa Monday on behalf of a program that helps people pay for prescription drugs. Jerry Mathers stared as a child as Beaver Cleaver in the “Leave it to Beaver” show.
During an interview with Radio Iowa, Mathers was quick to point out that he was born in Sioux City. Mathers says he didn’t live here very long as his dad used the G-I bill to move out to California to go to school at U.S.C.
“So I don’t remember much about it, but I am a native Iowan,” Mathers says. Mathers is remembered by everyone for the role he played in that black-and-white show, and he doesn’t mind.
He says “Leave it to Beaver” was “a total blessing for me.” Mathers says it is the longest running scripted show in television history and has been on the air for 51 years. He says it plays in 86 different languages in 126 countries. Mathers says “Leave it to Beaver” has staying power because it is a show that anyone can relate to.
“It’s a good family show, an entire family can sit down, the adults laugh at part of it and the kids laugh at others….everybody enjoys it. They just don’t make television like that, and I think that’s why it’s still on after 51 years,” Mathers says. The sixty-one-year-old Mathers says a new generation of kids is now watching the show and he says sometimes it takes them awhile to recognize him.
Mathers says the kids who are six, seven and eight don’t know why the show is in black and white and they think he is still a young kid. He says after awhile they realize who he is and understand that the show has been on many years. The show originally ran from 1957 to 1963. Mathers still does some acting — most recently in a Broadway production of Hairspray.