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Jerry Mathers Is Now the Last Living "Leave It to Beaver" Cast Member at 74

The actor first played Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver from 1957 to 1963.

The sitcom Leave It to Beaver aired new episodes for six years starting in the late '50s, but those 200+ episodes have continued to be revisited and loved by fans ever since. The show, which ran from 1957 to 1963, followed the Cleaver family, including mom June (Barbara Billingsley), dad Ward (Hugh Beaumont), older brother Wally (Tony Dow), and younger brother Theodore, who was known, of course, as Beaver. Today, only Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver, is still alive. Beaumont passed away in 1982, Billingsley in 2010, and Dow in 2022.

After starring on Leave It to Beaver until his teenage years, Mathers moved on to school and then a new career. But, it wasn't long before he went back to acting—and returned to play Beaver once again. Read on to find out more about the former child star's life now at 74.

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Mathers went into other fields.

Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers in a promotional photo circa 1955
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After graduating from high school, Mathers joined the California Air National Guard. This was at the time of the Vietnam War, and it resulted in a rumor that Mathers had died in combat. This wasn't the case, as he later cleared up on an episode of Saturday Night Live.

"I was a general's aide, so the farthest I ever went was Hawaii, which was really more fun than anything else," Mathers told Yahoo! in a March 2023 interview.

After his time in the military, he began working in real estate. "I was very good at real estate," he told Yahoo!. "People liked having the Beaver as their realtor. I was a million dollar salesperson—but that also wasn't very hard in Los Angeles, because houses here are very expensive."

He returned to acting.

Jerry Mathers on "Leave It to Beaver"
Revue Studios

Following Leave It to Beaver, Mathers made some guest appearances on TV shows, but he returned to acting regularly in 1983 when he starred in the TV movie Still the Beaver. This launched the sequel series, The New Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1984 to 1989. That show followed an adult Beaver and Wally, who now had children of their own. Dow and Billingsley returned as Wally and June, respectively.

Mathers continued to act after The New Leave It to Beaver went off the air. He appeared in plays and was in episodes of Married… with ChildrenDiagnosis Murder, and The War at Home. Most recently, he was in the 2015 short film Lucky Day and an episode of Dad Dudes in the same year.

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He's been married three times.

Jerry Mathers and Teresa Modnick at the Family Film Awards in 2019
Eugene Powers / Shutterstock

Mathers was married first to Diana Platt, then to Rhonda Gehring—with whom he welcomed three children, Noah, Mercedes, and Gretchen. Since 2011, he has been married to Teresa Modnick.

In 2021, the couple shared with Maine Seniors that their sisters are friends, who decided to set them up.

"We've been married 10 years right now," Modnick said at the time. "We connected instantly, and we just have a really wonderful life. We have five grandchildren now under the age of five—aged one, two, three, four, and five—with Jerry's two daughters. We're really blessed."

He would play Beaver again under the right circumstances.

Jerry Mathers at Th Hollywood Museum in 2021
Eugene Powers / Shuttestock

In his recent interview with Yahoo!, Mathers shared that he's open to playing Beaver again but as a grandpa this time.

"I'd want to read the script first," he said. "But as long as it stuck with the same morals and things that we did on the original shows, I'd be very happy to do it. A lot of the cast members [from the sequel series] are still alive, so it'd be fun to go back and see all of those people again."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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