‘Leave It to Beaver’: The 1 Episode of the Show Featuring a Hispanic Character
Each episode of the classic 1950s comedy series Leave It to Beaver was something of a slice of American culture from that era: the nuclear family with the obedient children, hard-working father, and the mother of the house perpetually clothed in a dress and pearls.
The show’s star Jerry Mathers recalled one episode that surprisingly veered from that scenario with the inclusion of a Hispanic character that Beaver befriends.
Here’s what he had to say.
‘Leave It to Beaver’ was the 1st situation comedy to do this
Mathers explained in 2006 to the Archive of American Television that Leave It to Beaver‘s writers displayed an impressive amount of forethought in their script writing for the series. Mainly, they wrote their scripts from a kid’s perspective, which was innovative at that time.
“[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,” Mathers explained.
The writing duo created their scripts, of course, for American viewers but also for international fans, as they were aware that they wanted a good image presented of the average American family.
“Some of the shows that were family shows showed the United States but they didn’t have worldwide recognition. 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.”
‘Leave It to Beaver’ originally had a different title
Surprisingly, the series’ first title had nothing to do with the Beaver at all. It took the show’s producers time to come up with the right show name, as Mathers recalled when he filmed the original pilot.
“I went in and it was another pilot, it was just another week of shooting,” Mathers continued. “So I remember getting the script and we went in and we did it. The original name was not Leave It to Beaver. It was called It’s A Small World.”
The episode with a non-English-speaking character
In the show’s second season, a new student named Chuey shows up in Beaver’s classroom in the episode titled “Beaver and Chuey.” As Mathers said, “Beaver being the compassionate person he is, befriends Chuey.”
The episode, Mathers explained, showcased Eddie Haskell doing his best to get Beaver into trouble.
“Beaver meets a very nice boy at school who doesn’t speak English because his father is either an ambassador or [he’s there for] his company, but he’s from Latin America,” he said. “And so the boy only speaks Spanish.”
Chuey and Beaver, despite their language barrier, quickly become friends.
“Beaver invites him over and so his parents come over and drop him off,” Mathers continued. “So they go up to the room to play. But Beaver has talked to Eddie Haskell and said, ‘Oh, I wish I could just talk to this boy and just tell him that he’s my newest, best friend and I just like him so much.'”
Eddie, unfortunately, cooks up a scheme to embarrass Beaver, according to Mather. He tells Beaver he speaks impeccable Spanish, instructing him to tell Chuey in Spanish is that he has a face like a pig. Beaver follows Eddie’s instructions with disastrous results.
“The little boy is so insulted that he starts crying and he calls his parents,” the Beaver actor said. “He can’t tell June and Ward what’s wrong. They’re asking [Beaver], ‘What did you do?’ And he goes, ‘I don’t know, I just told him he’s my newest best friend.'”
Mathers added that the show was ahead of its time for “introducing a foreign language. At that time, there weren’t a whole lot of any minorities on TV. I think that was very unique to delve into the problems of communication.”