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'Leave It to Beaver' star Barbara Billingsley dies at 94

Barbara Billingsley with Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow

Barbara Billingsley, the actress embedded in the American consciousness as mom June Cleaver from the classic sitcom "Leave It to Beaver," died at her home in Santa Monica on Saturday. She was 94.

Barbara Billingsley pictures Billingsley's portrayal of the quintessential stay-at-home mom in the series that ran from 1957 to 1963 -- and seemingly in perpetuity in reruns -- "set a good example for what a wife could be," the actress told TV Guide in 1997.

Her TV sons Wally and the Beaver, played by Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers, expressed their condolences Saturday. "We were wonderful friends," Dow said in a statement, in which he also wished the best to her sons and the rest of her family. Billingsley "helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners, and respect for others," Mathers said in a statement.

She leveraged her perfect 1950s mom stereotype to great comedic effect in the 1980 movie "Airplane!" We've embedded video below of one of her most memorable scenes: In addition to keeping house in pearls and heels, Barbara Billingsley -- well, her character -- spoke jive.

Read The Times' full obituary here. Click the picture of three of the four Cleavers, above right, to launch a photo gallery of Barbara Billingsley through her life.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

 

Top photo: Actors Jerry Mathers, left, Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow were reunited Sept. 27, 2007, in Santa Monica to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Leave it to Beaver." Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

Second photo: Dow, left, Billingsley and the late Hugh Beaumont in character as Wally, June and patriarch Ward Cleaver. Credit: Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (3)

we'll miss her in the vulgar savage age that we inhabit

"America in its finest days".....these are the times Barbara represented so well. She did not know me...but I knew her...as Beaver's mom of course. I will miss surely her.

Television viewing has both diminished with tears in its eyes over the recent deaths of Barbara Billingsley, masterful matriarch June Cleaver in the comdedy "Leave It to Beaver" at 94 and the suicide ten years ago (October 16, 2000) of veteran actor Rick Jason, 77,who starred as Lt. Gil Hanley on the World War II drama series "Combat!" These two actors created inspirational, first-rate characters and enabled TV fans to, however temporary, forget the turmoil the late fifties and the 1960s. They made for high quality TV and gave it style, class, at times humor and most of all first-rate quality viewing. They and many other actors who did the same, will be missed.


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