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

October 16, 2010 |  8:23 pm

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

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