Only two of the actors from the pilot, “It’s a Small World,” went on to portray the iconic family we know and love today. Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley, the Beaver and his loving mother June, starred in the first episode that aired in 1957.
After that, big brother Wally and head-of-the-household, Ward Cleaver, would be portrayed by different actors.
They Had a Wonderful Friendship, but It Didn’t Start Out Like That
The actors who portrayed Wally and the Beaver, the Cleaver brothers, were fantastic buddies on TV.
But at the time, there was a wide age gap between the two, and they really did not hang out off-set. It was only later that the two actors became close and formed their lifelong friendship.
Tony Dow Got Into Acting Completely by Chance
Tony did not audition for the role of Wally; he just happened to be at the right place at the right time. He was not a trained actor. As it happened, he accompanied his buddy Johnny White, who was a lifeguard at the athletic club he worked out at, to an open audition.
The next thing he knew, he was hired. Ironically, his friend Johnny was an actor, but Tony got the part instead.
Tony Dow Was an Olympic Hopeful
Tony was training at the Hollywood athletic club that fateful day. There was nothing he loved more than sports, and he was a gifted athlete. In high school, he lettered in every sport.
His best and favorite sport was swimming. Many people don't know this, but he was a junior diving champion and broke a national record at age nine!
June Cleaver Was Not as Tall as She Appeared
To retain some height over the boys as they grew taller, Barbara Billingsley wore high heels, very high heels.
Considering how significantly the portrayal of women has changed in Hollywood since the '50s, the sight of her wearing heels while cooking and cleaning provides endless fodder for mockery by modern perspectives.