Barbara Billingsley, the actress embedded in the American consciousness as mom June Cleaver from the classic sitcom "Leave It to Beaver," died at her home in Santa Monica on Saturday. She was 94.
Billingsley's portrayal of the quintessential stay-at-home mom in the series that ran from 1957 to 1963 -- and seemingly in perpetuity in reruns -- "set a good example for what a wife could be," the actress told TV Guide in 1997.
Her TV sons Wally and the Beaver, played by Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers, expressed their condolences Saturday. "We were wonderful friends," Dow said in a statement, in which he also wished the best to her sons and the rest of her family. Billingsley "helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners, and respect for others," Mathers said in a statement.
She leveraged her perfect 1950s mom stereotype to great comedic effect in the 1980 movie "Airplane!" We've embedded video below of one of her most memorable scenes: In addition to keeping house in pearls and heels, Barbara Billingsley -- well, her character -- spoke jive.
Read The Times' full obituary here. Click the picture of three of the four Cleavers, above right, to launch a photo gallery of Barbara Billingsley through her life.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Posted by news update at 8:50 PM