On October 4, 1957, "Leave It to Beaver" premiered on CBS starring Jerry Mathers as the Beaver. Here are six fascinating facts about the show that will make you say, "Golly!"
It Was Canceled After Its First Season Despite it's legendary status, Leave It to Beaver was not a smash hit at the time. After the first season ended in 1958, CBS canceled the series. Fortunately, ABC came in and rescued the show. It would air on ABC for its remaining five seasons.
“Leave It to Beaver” Wasn’t the Original Title
The series pilot was originally titled “It’s a Small World” and aired as an installment of the anthology series Heinz Studio 57. Before the new title was chosen, “Wally and the Beaver” was considered, but the show’s sponsor thought it might be mistaken for a nature program.
A Growth Spurt Led To a New Wally
Paul Sullivan originally portrayed Wally in the pilot. He was replaced by Tony Dow when a growth spurt made Sullivan too tall to play the role. Dow wasn’t auditioning when he was chosen to play Wally Cleaver and remained on the show for six years. It was a lucky break because he had just been accompanying a friend who was trying out for the part.
Jerry Mathers Appeared on “I Love Lucy” Mathers played Little Ricky when he sat on Lucy’s lap in the episode titled “Ricky’s Old Girlfriend” during season three of “I Love Lucy.” During the scene, Lucy was dreaming her husband had deserted her for Carlota Romero, an old girlfriend, and she and her small son were begging for money in the street. The episode appeared in 1953, which was four years before “Leave It to Beaver” debuted.
It Was The First TV Show To Show a Toilet It was just the tank, but the appearance of a toilet onscreen was a TV first. The boys were often in the bathroom off their bedroom. In this case, in the episode "Captain Jack," Wally puts an alligator in the toilet tank after he and Beaver order one through the mail. This episode was intended as the premiere of the show but aired the second week.
Mathers Was The First Child Actor To Get a Cut Of The Merchandise Revenue
A lot of merchandise was spawned by the television show, from comic books and t-shirts to board games and lunch boxes. Thanks to Mathers’ agent and his parents, he received a cut from all the sales. This represented the first time a child actor received money from the merchandise sold as tie-ins to a television show.