harry shearer was on “leave it to beaver”

Jerry Mathers, the one time child actor best known for his portrayal of “The Beaver” in the Eisenhower-era television sitcom “Leave it to Beaver,” was being interviewed on the radio this morning. He was being asked to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the show. For the most part, the interview was boring. There were, however, a few choice tidbits. For instance, did any of you know that the boy who played Lumpy on the show grew up to be Beaver’s real-life investment advisor? I love the idea of them still hanging out as old men. The real big revelation for me, however, was that Harry Shearer, the brilliant character actor behind such cultural touchstones as the black-hearted cartoon industrialist Montgomery Burns (from the Simpsons) and “luke warm” heavy metal bassist Derek Smalls (from Spinal Tap), was first cast in the role of Eddie Haskell. The character apparently wasn’t completely fleshed out at that point, but he was in the pilot for the show, which was then being called “It’s a Small World.” (The image here is of Shearer in the pilot. The year, I believe, would have been 1956.) Some of you may have known this, but I had absolutely no idea. I’d just assumed that Shearer came to comedy later in life, after graduating from Harvard. I didn’t know that he was a kid actor.

So, for the last few hours, I’ve been digging. I won’t bore you with all the details, but Shearer, a kid growing up in LA, got his start early in life, when his piano teacher decided to become a children’s theatrical agent. He took Shearer on auditions, and, before long, he was finding work. He was on “The Jack Benny Program” at seven. His film debut was with Abbott and Costello in 1953, in “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.” And, even though he didn’t ultimately get the Eddie Haskell part, he did apparently show up in a few episodes of “Leave it to Beaver.” I already respected the hell out of the guy, but, Jesus, he worked with Jack Benny! He’s definitely moving up on my list of interview targets… I may even put a bounty on this head, like I did with Don Knotts… Tell you what – if any of you can set up an interview with Harry Shearer for me, I’ll send you a five bucks and an autographed pair of Ypsipanties.

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2 Comments

  1. Meta
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Shearer’s KCRW radio program, Le Show:

    http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/ls

  2. Lupe
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Harry Shearer was also the first white child born in Borneo.

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