- The original pilot: "It's a Small World" with different actors portraying Ward and Wally!
The first season of Leave It to Beaver was originally telecast on CBS and seen in an early-Friday-evening slot. When first we meet that "lovable, spankable, unpredictable" Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), he is all of seven years old, and his older brother Wally (Tony Dow) is a mere 12. The boys and their parents, Ward (Hugh Beaumont) and June (Barbara Billingsley), are living in a different house than in later episodes, principally because the show was being filmed at the old Republic movie studios, and wouldn't move to its more familiar Universal stamping grounds until the 1958-1959 season. Wally's weaselly buddy Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), already practicing his two-faced trick of being effusively polite to Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver and abrasive and bullying to Beaver, makes his first appearance in the episode "New Neighbors" (a later installment, "Voodoo Magic," affords viewers the rare privilege of seeing Eddie's parents, played by Karl Swenson and Ann Doran). Another familiar juvenile supporting player, Frank Bank, makes his debut as Lumpy Rutherford in the episode also bearing that name; though he is instantly established as the son of Ward's coworker Fred Rutherford (Richard Deacon), Lumpy is depicted as a bully, and not the amiable oaf he would later become. Similarly, Ward Cleaver is not always the all-knowing, gently philosophical character whom we're familiar with: in the episode "The Black Eye," for example, Ward not only aggressively goads Beaver into a fight with the kid who gave him a "shiner," but also punishes Wally for informing him in a later scene that Beaver's "opponent" is a girl! And if we may digress for a moment: another first-season episode, "Water Anyone," marks the one and only time that June Cleaver is seen mopping the floor while wearing a pearl necklace and a fancy dress. (And, given the plot at hand, June's allegedly inappropriate outfit makes sense!) Other characters introduced during season one are Beaver's attractive blonde teacher Miss Canfield (Diane Brewster), his friends Larry (Rusty Stevens) and Whitey (Stanley "Tiger" Fafara), his classroom nemesis Judy Hensler (Jeri Weil), and Wally's off-and-on steady date Mary Ellen Rogers (Pamela Beard). Among the actors making guest appearances are silent-film star Madge Kennedy as Wally and Beav's hidebound Aunt Martha, and in two separate episodes, veteran character actor Lyle Talbot, whose son Stephen Talbot would join the cast two years later as Beaver's chum Gilbert. With such classic episodes as "Beaver Gets 'Spelled," "Beaver and Poncho," and "Beaver Runs Away," Leave It to Beaver performed admirably during its freshman season, though ratings-wise it lagged behind its ABC competition The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. ~ Hal Erickson
Cast & Crew
Jerry Mathers - Beaver Cleaver
Tony Dow - Wally Cleaver
Barbara Billingsley - June Cleaver
Hugh Beaumont - Ward Cleaver
Ken Osmond - Eddie Haskell