Monday, October 18, 2010
Mrs. June Cleaver ..Rest in Peace Barbara Billingsley
My mother never wore heels or pearls like June Cleaver, and I can't imagine her chasing five kids around the house, walking us to school or running us to Scouts and our other activities in them, but we loved watching Mrs. Cleaver just the same in "leave it to Beaver" each week.
As well as admiring her "mother skills" on the show, she was truly a fashion icon for me with grace and elegance. I loved her dresses then, and admire them even more now on reruns of the show. Dresses that are still in style today, and coveted among vintage fashion lovers.
Barbara Billingsley wasn't a glamour queen with fashions like "movie stars" and she wasn't much different from other TV moms of the 50's shows like Donna Reed, Ozzie & Harriet, and Father Knows Best, but she certainly held her own.
She represented classic day wear styles. Her character favored classic shirt waist dresses with full skirts, rarely a wiggle dress, and always wore her pearls and heels. In almost every episode she donned an apron, and even looked pretty in them.
Ms. Billingsley admitted that she had a "hollow" in her neck that photographed badly, and felt the pearls concealed it. She wore them in real life and suggested them for her role on the show. The heels were to keep her taller than her rapidly growing sons on the show.
Barbara started out as a model, then moved into acting. She was married three times, and ironically had two sons, like her role as Mrs. Clever and admits she was very much like June in life. Years later, we got to see the fun side of Barbara.. The comedienne in her.. Talking Jive in the movie Airplane.
There have been re-makes and movies of Leave it to Beaver, but no one could fill Barbara's heels in the role of June. We'll miss you Ms. Billingsley.
On a lighter note..lets play Six Degrees of Separation. In 1989 a radio station I worked for had a "beaver ball" game.. Listeners could win a chance to play ball on Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmund) or Beaver's (Jerry Mathers) team. I was with the Eddie Haskell crew, but enjoyed meeting Beav just as much. Yes, I did ask what Barbara was like in real life, and they both had nothing but respect and admiration for her.
And since both guys were Barbara Billingsley's son's on the show.. how many degrees of separation?