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Talking with the Grand Marshal Beaver Cleaver

Jerry Mathers, grand marshal of the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade, talked briefly with Patch about being in parades, life as an icon and what he's been up to the past few years.

Jerry Mathers, who starred as Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in the iconic sitcom Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963), said that he was asked by one of his in-laws to serve as grand marshal of the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July parade.

"She had a contact down there," said the now 64-year-old actor who currently lives in Valencia. "It's the Fourth of July and it's fun to be in the parade, so it just worked out fine."

He said that one of the advantages of being a parade grand marshall is that one rides at the beginning of the parade, which means at the end of the parade route, one can see the rest of the parade.

"This is just a benefit," he said about making appearances.

He acknowledges that the show has pretty much achieved iconic status and enjoys meeting fans who recognize him. And while some actors have found it hard to live down constantly being recognized for a popular television show or film, he appreciates the opportunities Leave it to Beaver has given him to meet people.

"I'm on the embracing side," he said about his famous role. "It put me through college. And I have an entree into so many places."

And, indeed, there are few places he can go without being recognized. Oddly enough, one of those places is England, where the show never ran because British television executives didn't think British audiences would relate to it.

"They said it was an unrealistic view of growing up," he said. "So nobody in England knows me."

After leaving the show, he went to a regular high school, got a bachelor's degree from U.C. Berkeley, served in the Air National Guard and even worked as a banker for several years. But thanks to his former co-star Tony Dow, he went back to acting and discovered that he still liked it.

He returned to his famous role as an adult Beaver Cleaver in The New Leave it to Beaver, which ran from 1983 to 1989. But he's also done some stage work, most notably a 2007 stint on Broadway as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray.

He said that he doesn't have to work, which is fine with him.

"A lot of the things that people are doing right now are not things I would want to be part of," he said. "Most of the things, I turn down."

Mostly he's content to do parades and whatever jobs come his way.

"It's been a great life," he said.

bp July 03, 2012 at 09:38 PM
You were one of my best friends as a kid; the only thing I couldn't quite accept was how your parents' were always so dressed up!! Why was June in a dress to cook dinner & it seemed like Ward never took his jacket off... Wow, otherwise I was with you every way!!

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