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October 10, 2015

Barbara Billingsley, 'Leave it to Beaver' Mom, Dead at 94

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 16th 2010 6:51PM
Barbara BillingsleyBarbara Billingsley, known to millions of TV fans as the pearls-wearing housewife June Cleaver on the classic sitcom 'Leave it to Beaver,' has passed away at the age of 94.

A family spokeswoman said Billingsley died of polymyalgia, a rheumatoid disease, at her home in Santa Monica, Calif.

In a statement, her TV son, Jerry Mathers, said, "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and lifetime mentor Barbara Billingsley. She will live in the hearts of her fans as a wonderful actress and be remembered by her friends as a gracious lady."

"She will be deeply missed by all of her family, friends, fans and most especially by me."

Even though Billingsley is probably best known as June, she actually had a long movie career before donning the apron. A lot of roles, actually, often in mysteries, comedies, and dramas, including 'Shadow on the Wall,' 'Trial Without Jury,' 'Dial 1119,' and a ton of uncredited roles in the late '40s and early '50s. And she was a regular on a couple of TV series before 'Beaver,' 'Professional Father' and 'The Brothers.'

Billingsley also made appearances on 'The Abbott and Costello Show,' 'The Long Wolf,' 'Schlitz Playhouse,' 'The Loretta Young Show,' 'The Danny Thomas Show,' 'Panic,' 'The F.B.I.,' 'Silver Spoons,' 'The Love Boat,' 'The New Mike Hammer,' 'Parker Lewis Can't Lose,' 'Murphy Brown,' 'Muppet Babies,' 'Empty Nest,' and many others. She even recreated the June Cleaver role for an episode of 'Roseanne.'

She also spoke jive:

In 1980, 'Airplane' introduced Billingsley to a whole new generation.

A few years after that, Billingsley returned to Mayfield with Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow for the reunion movie 'Still the Beaver.' That movie led to a new cable series about the Cleavers and their friends, 'The New Leave it to Beaver,' which lasted from 1983 to1989. In a cute bit of casting, she played Aunt Martha in the 1997 big-screen version of the sitcom (Janine Turner played June).

In 2007, the cast reunited on 'Good Morning America' for the show's 50th anniversary:

Billingsley is survived by two sons.

As I say almost every time that a classic TV or movie star passes away, a whole era is vanishing it's been a particularly bad few weeks for celebrities, as we've also seen the deaths of people like Stephen J. Cannell, Tony Curtis, Gloria Stuart, Harold Gould, and Kevin McCarthy.

Here's hoping that TV Land or Retro TV does a marathon of 'Leave it to Beaver' episodes soon. RIP Barbara. You had a long life.

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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August 05 2011 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

rip barbara billingsley, you will be missed i will always remeber you as nanny from muppet babies and leave it to beaver which i watched in reruns.

October 23 2010 at 12:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice heading, guys. "Dead" at 94. With the whole world bending over backwards these days for idiotic political correctness, here's a case where a little subtlety would be appreciated. How about "passes on"? She was a cool lady!

October 19 2010 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A sad day by the passing of everyone's favorite TV mother Barbara Billingsley aka June Cleaver. She was a great actress, her career speaks for itself. Rest in Peace.

October 19 2010 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am grateful for the 6 yrs I had to stay home with my own daughter after she was born.Well written and insightful.

October 19 2010 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eddie haskell

..the passing of a wonderful era in America..respectfully,everyone knew that June was 'Eddie's girl', she put on a stiff/stern facade..but underneath, she was 'Eddie's woman', and ALL woman when they were alone together, you could see it in her eyes and actions, she loved the young guys of that time. The best in her category, her life was secretive, because she secretly spent her time with Ken Osmond off screen..another Hollywood affair which lasted many years..they kept it respectful publicly,but secretly 'dated', and 'partied' together. The best to her, she was the best in every category..today's Hollywood will never compare to Barbara's day..when Hollywood was at it's BEST!!

October 18 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The ultmate stay-at-home mom....that was Wally's and the Beaver's mom. Barbara Billingsley kept her married name after a divorce left her with two little boys, ages 4 and 2. She seemed to know what to do....find work and raise those sons. Two more marriages came along, but she always kept her first husband's name. Maybe those boys had something to do with that decision.

October 18 2010 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lee scott

Growing up I always wanted my Mother to be just like the Beaver's mom.....it ended up that she was. I was so lucky to have the Cleaver's when I was Beaver's age..

October 17 2010 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MIchael Mc Manus

Was a good show. How come the writers cannot create good TV today. Lots of this reality crap.
Sorry the old lady passed away.

October 17 2010 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Her pearls should be placed in a museum. Nobody wore pearls like she did! :) RIP June Cleaver.

October 17 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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