“Leave It to Beaver” was an American television sitcom broadcast between 1957 and 1963. It ran for six full 39-week seasons (234 episodes), debuting on CBS on October 4, 1957. The following season, it moved to ABC, where it stayed until completing its run on June 20, 1963.
The show was about an inquisitive and often naïve boy, Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), and his adventures at home, school, and around his suburban Ohio neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver’s parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver’s brother, Wally.
This sitcom defined the “golly gee-whiz” wholesomeness of the mid 50s and early 60s TV, where the father always gets home in time for dinner, the mother cleans the house wearing a dress and pearls, and the kids always learn a lesson by the end of the half-hour episode. It exemplified the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.
“Leave It to Beaver” was one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child’s point of view. It provided a glimpse of middle-class American boyhood. In a typical episode, Beaver gets into some sort of boyish scrape, then faces his parents for reprimand and correction. Neither parent was infallible and the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes.
The still-popular show ended its run in 1963 primarily because it had reached its natural conclusion: In the final show, Beaver is about to graduate grade school to move into high school, but Wally was about to enter college and the fraternal dynamic at the heart of the show’s premise would be broken with their separation.
At around the same time that “Leave It to Beaver” was on the air, other popular sitcoms with family-oriented plots included “The Advenures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “Father Knows Best,” “Make Room for Daddy,” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”