Barbara Billingsley, best known for her role as June Cleaver on “Leave It To Beaver,” died on Saturday at the age of 94. Billingsley, who suffered from a rheumatoid disease, died at her home in Santa Monica, California.
Billingsley played the role of June Cleaver from 1957 to 1963 alongside her TV husband Hugh Beaumont (Ward) and sons Jerry Mathers (Beaver) and Tony Dow (Wally).
Barbara’s own two sons said their mother was very similar to her character on the popular show.
“She was every bit as nurturing, classy and lovely as ‘June Cleaver,’ and we were so proud to share her with the world,” her son Glenn Billingsley said Saturday.
Barbara previously said of “Leave It To Beaver”:
“We knew we were making a good show, because it was so well written,” she said. “But we had no idea what was ahead. People still talk about it and write letters, telling how much they watch it today with their children and grandchildren.”
“Leave it to Beaver” went off the air in 1963 and Billingsley was out of the public view for a few years. But Barbara returned in 1980 in a cameo for the hilarious movie “Airplane”.
In the cameo Billingsley’s character offered to translate jive-talking saying, “I speak jive.”
“America’s favorite mother is now gone,” Dow said in a statement Saturday. “I feel very fortunate to have been her ‘son’ for 11 years. We were wonderful friends and I will miss her very much.”
Mrs. Billingsley’s survivors include her sons, a stepson and numerous grandchildren.
Billingsley’s television son “Beaver,” whose real name is Jerry Mathers said in a statement:
“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. Barbara was a patient adviser and teacher. She helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners and respect for others. She will be deeply missed by all of her family, friends, fans and most especially by me.”
Barbara Billingsley in “Leave It To Beaver”:
Barbara Billingsley’s cameo in Airplane: