That goofy Beaver stood me up.
There I was, at my desk, high-tech recording gear set to capture
not only Jerry Mathers famous adenoidal whine but also every
sound emanating from his LA domicile. If the Beaver was entertaining
a bevy of call girls, I wanted to know about it.
I waited patiently for a couple of hours, worrying that the Beav
might get confused by the time difference between LA and Memphis.
I started to get mad. I could just see Mathers squinty little
face, tooling through the streets of Burbank in the Beavermobile,
slipping out a cell-phone and placing a call to his old friend
Fireman Gus. Hey, Gus, I imagined him saying, Im afraid of
that guy from The Memphis Flyer. I hear he can be mean. Do you
think he will give me the business? Gus, of course, says nothing
because character actor Burt Mustin died way back in the 70s.
I started jotting down last-minute questions for him. Have you
ever been asked to play a serial killer? How can I become a member
of the Hugh Beaumont cardigan club? Would you call that thing
on Tony Dows head a fro? What was going through his producers
minds when they gave episodes such unsavory titles as Lonesome
Beaver? Does Mathers empathize with future washed-up child stars
Steve Urkle from Family Matters and Saved by the Bells doomed
Screech? Had he ever dreamed of butchering Shelley Fabares with
a chainsaw? She not only trumped Mathers by making the leap from
child star on The Donna Reed Show to full-fledged adult fame on
the hit sitcom, Coach, her preposterous singing career produced
the hit song Johnny Angel. But then not too many folks know
about the Beavers heartbreaking attempt to be a jukebox hero.
No kitsch-heads home is complete without a copy of Jerry singing
the soulful Spanish Harlem redux, Dont Cha Cry, backed by the
catchy twister Wind-Up-Toy Wind-up-toy, wind-up-toy, when
ya gunna treat me like a real live boy? Yes, I had to ask him
about that and about his successful fat-shedding stint with Jenny
Craig. What prompted him to loose the extra pounds? Had he gotten
his head stuck in a fence again? Did he share his weight-loss
secrets with former co-characters Larry Mondello and Lumpy Rutherford?
While on the subject of Larry and Lumpy, which one grew up to
be Meatloaf? If Eddie Haskell killed himself because he was a
gay motorcycle cop, then how is it that he appeared on all those
episodes of Still the Beaver?
There were so many questions, and so little time. If he did indeed
call, and there was only time to ask one thing, what would it
be? Is Leave It to Beaver damaging to young people because it
portrays an unrealistic view of family life? No, too serious.
Did you ever see Barbara Billingsly naked? Too racy. Have you
ever looked up Still the Beaver on the internet? heh heh heh.
Too Beavis and Butt-Head.
Alas, the Beav never called. So here I am on press day without
an interview. A scramble to piece together a story, however, produced
the answer to my most important question: Why is it that everyone
thought that you died in Vietnam?
Everyone born since the invention of the playground is surely
familiar with the urban legend concerning Leave It to Beaver star
Jerry Mathers tragic death in Vietnam. In a recent AOL interview,
Mathers shed some light on this disturbingly pervasive myth: I
had given out an Emmy to Gene Kelly in uniform because I was in
the Air Force at the time. People saw me in uniform. They tell
me that the bureau chiefs of AP and UPI were scanning casualty
lists for their wire services. Someone saw the same name or a
similar name, pulled my obituary file, and ran it. Shelley Winters
read it in the paper, went on The Tonight Show, announced it,
and sang Bring the Boys back home. (What I wouldnt give to
see Shelly in a fit of drunken self-righteousness bellowing, They
got the Beaver, end this madness before we lose Whitey and Gilbert,
Well, there is the answer to one question. To get the rest, Ill
just have to go see Mathers when he introduces the Pink Palaces
new IMAX feature, Beavers. I wonder if 40 years of being the Beaver
has given him special insight to the secret of those industrious
little rodents. Ill add that question to my little list.