‘Leave It to Beaver’: Jerry Mathers Said He Got His 1st Job Because His Mom Was Excited About the Free Clothes

As Leave It to Beaver star Jerry Mathers tells it, when his mother was approached about having her son work professionally, she was reluctant at first.

But as most moms on a budget know, children grow out of their clothes unbelievably quickly. So it makes great sense that the offer of a complimentary wardrobe for her son would cause her to give a thumbs-up to the launch of his acting career.

Here’s how it all happened.

Jerry Mathers as Beaver Cleaver and Tony Dow as Wally Cleaver in 'Leave It to Beaver'
Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘Leave It to Beaver’ is still aired around the world

The Beaver Cleaver actor spoke in 2006 to the Television Academy Foundation about Leave It to Beaver‘s writers and their impressive forethought. They wrote the show for U.S. viewers, naturally, but also for international fans and wanted to present a good image of the average American family.

Jerry Mathers as Beaver Cleaver, Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver, Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver and Tony Dow as Wally Cleaver in a promotional photo for 'Leave It to Beaver'
The cast of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“[Writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher] were very aware that Leave It to Beaver was one of the first shows about an American family and, especially, from a child’s point of view, to go around the world,” he said.

“Some of the shows that were family shows showed the United States but they didn’t have worldwide recognition,” Mathers noted. “And so [the writers] were very, very conscious of presenting the United States in a very good light.

Leave It to Beaver has played, and still plays, in 91 different languages in like 127 countries.”

How the prospect of a new wardrobe got Mathers his 1st professional job

It’s obvious Mathers still enjoys discussing the humorous story of how his mother was approached about allowing him to work.

The baby-faced actor recalled how it was that he became involved in acting at a young age.

RELATED: ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Tony Dow Said He Wasn’t Allowed to Watch His Own Show

“It’s kind of an interesting story, I must admit,” Mathers began.

His parents, as the actor explained, were not wealthy people; his father was a coach and his mother a homemaker. When his mother was out shopping with her young son about age 2 for a birthday outfit, he was noticed by a modeling professional.

“A lady came up to [his mother] and said, ‘Your little boy looks just like the family in our catalog. Would it be possible for him to be a model for our catalog?’” he recalled.

His mother while at first hesitant about this stranger and her offer, was sold, according to the actor, when the catalog scout said, “‘We could pay him and he could keep all the clothes that he would wear.’ My mom said, ‘You know, he could probably do that.’ So that’s actually how I started,” Mathers said, laughing.

Mathers’ mom’s decision paid off

A still shot of Jerry Mathers as Beaver Cleaver
Jerry Mathers as Beaver Cleaver | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

As the actor said in his chat with the Television Academy Foundation, Leave It to Beaver is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to him, and that’s thanks to his mother.

“I had a wonderful time,” he said. “But I realize how hard it was for my parents to have to take me every day.”

His mother, Mathers said, “didn’t work, but it really was a lot of work.”