Leave It to Beaver star Barbara Billingsley was a mother in real life and on television, and jumping between the true and fictional families proved challenging.
On the classic TV series, Billingsley played June Cleaver, wife of Ward and mom of Beaver and Wally. When production shut down each day, she went home where she was the wife of William and the mom of Drew and Glenn, who happened to be the same age as her onscreen boys.
In 1962, less than a year before Leave It to Beaver ended, the iconic actress admitted that living between her persona and truth could be a real struggle in the most endearing way.
“I get confused at times at home and call one of my boys ‘Beaver,” she recalled while talking to The Gettysburg Times, per MeTV. “Half the time I can’t tell the difference between what goes on in the show and what’s happening at home. It’s priceless.”
‘Leave It to Beaver’s Barbara Billingsley Was ‘America’s Mom’
But it wasn’t just Billingsley who couldn’t separate fact from fiction. Ward actor Hugh Beaumont had similar troubles when it came to raising his kids.
“It’s just like I was bringing up my own three youngsters. Beaver and Wally have the same problems they have or had. Sometimes I don’t even think I need a script,” he joked. “It all sounds so familiar.”
When it came to Leave It to Beaver‘s Barbara Billingsley, life imitated art in more ways than one. According to Beaver and Wally stars Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow, the actress may have had a hard time switching between scripted and unscripted life because she was the same person in both worlds.
“Barbara was a patient advisor and teacher,” Mathers told CNN following Billingsley’s death in 2010. “And she helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners and respect for others.“
“She was as happy as a lark being recognized as America’s mom,” Dow added. “She had a terrific life and had a wonderful impact on everybody she knew and even people she didn’t know.”
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