The television show that has become synonymous with idyllic American life first aired 60 years ago today. Leave it to Beaver started with an episode titled “Beaver Gets Spelled,” in which the young mumbler spins a web of fibs to avoid giving his mother a note from his new teacher.
For six seasons the wholesome sitcom followed the antics of Beaver and Wally while June Cleaver did all of her chores in high heels and pearls. The portrayal of domestic life in Leave it to Beaver has become a sort of joke regarding a brand of suburban bliss that probably never existed.
The show wasn’t what one would call groundbreaking, but it was the first television program to show a toilet onscreen — or, a toilet tank, rather. In “Captain Jack,” the boys send off $2.50 for a Florida alligator, and it wasn’t logical for them to hide it anywhere else in the bathroom. “Captain Jack” was supposed to be the first episode of the program, but CBS’s Standards and Practices took issue with showing a toilet on television. The episode was bumped until it was negotiated to show only the toilet tank onscreen.
The child actor who played Beaver, Jerry Mathers, was quite the star in his day, making many appearances in children’s magazines, including Children’s Playmate, which was published by the Saturday Evening Post. Jerry wasn’t exactly teen heartthrob material, but his innocent persona was surely attractive to the parents who bought the magazine.