Good Night, Eddie Haskell

If you want to understand what growing up was like for my generation, watch Leave It To Beaver, which debuted a year after I did. Then you will understand the “image” of a family from 1957 – 1963 when it aired. Ward Cleaver went to work in a suit and tie everyday. I have no idea what he did. He read the newspaper. He was full of wisdom. June stayed home, fixed the morning breakfast and coffee in the kitchen, displayed a lovely dinner in the dining room, made sure the boys bathed regularly, and took care of the house. She was undeniably a successful, wise woman and homemaker. She did all of this while wearing high heels. Her typical outfit consisted of a dress cinched at the waist and a short string of pearls around her neck. She never had a hair out of place.

Ward’s character was familiar to me. He mirrored my dad. But my mom saved the dress and pearls for church or a special occasion. June was only a vision of what a housewife was. Still, I really wanted to be her. When I finally realized that it took a team of people to make her look the way she did, I couldn’t figure out how to pull that off, so I settled for my own wonderful life as a homemaker, sans the heels and pearls. I did know one of those types when I was growing up. She was the mother of a friend of mine, and I never understood her. Perhaps she was confused herself. Thanks, June Cleaver!

 

Photos Credit: IMDB

Barbara Billingsley and Ken Osmond in Leave It to Beaver (1957)

 

The untimely death of Ken Osmond prompted me to do some research about the man who brought life to Eddie Haskell. Few have been so type cast as he was as the irritating, parent-complimenting, rascal friend of teenage Wally Cleaver. (Though perhaps Adam West as TV’s Batman or Seinfeld’s Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer would be part of that camp.)

Friendship is a wonderful, complicated thing. Sometimes you choose your friends and sometimes it seems God chooses them for you. Perhaps Wally summed it up best when he said, “He’s my best friend, and I don’t even like him.”

Wherein hardly a day goes by when my husband and I don’t make some kind of Seinfeld reference, there is only one reference that fits Ken Osmond’s Eddie Haskell. That is his name. Do you know an Eddie Haskell? Then you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re a recovering Eddie Haskell, I feel for you. Your integrity will always come into question. As the parents of four children, we have come across a few, but thankfully none that were as Eddie as Eddie Haskell. I remember thinking about some of those kids, wondering what they were up to, wondering what would become of them. Could any of our kids friends like me as much as they portrayed? Was my tofu chili really that good? Or did they just compliment me for the Reese’s Pieces?

Perhaps Eddie himself has made me question people’s intentions much more than I would have if he had never been written into the script. But he was. And now I have to apologize to those whom I’ve labeled “Eddie Haskells.” Thankfully I cannot remember a one of them telling me that I looked lovely. That would have been creepy. But the questions did exist.

I will say that every ultra polite friend of my children’s has turned into a fine, upstanding adult. That makes me smile. Now that I think about it, I wonder if any of my children were ever branded as Eddie Haskells. Probably not. They were polite, but not that polite.

Ken Osmond himself turned into quite a wonderful adult. When his acting career dried up, he became a Los Angeles police officer. He is lauded as a wonderful friend, husband and father who will be very missed. Everybody grows up. Everybody leaves something behind. In Ken’s case – a group of people who loved him, a community that was thankful for his service, and generations of people who loved to hate Eddie Haskell. Thank you, Ken. RIP

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Vanessa

     /  May 21, 2020

    So ironic I’m reading your blog after two months being home. A lot has happen since I haven’t been at work. My husband passed due to the coronavirus and although I am back at work, I am still in a days. My husband liked Leave It To Beaver and all those old TV shows. Keep blogging

    Reply
    • I can’t imagine what you have been through and how much you must miss your husband. I’m so sorry. I think being in a daze is to be expected. I have been praying for you and will continue, my friend. I do feel like we are friends – like pen pals. God bless you greatly and may you receive the comfort only he can give. I’ll keep on blogging.

      Reply
  2. I remember “Leave it to Beaver” very well. It was one of the first shows I watched that wasn’t a cartoon show or had a pseudo-teacher at the core.
    Oh, and Michael Richards was chosen for that role because he had ALREADY been typecast as such. Check out his Friday night show. (It was ABC’s attempt to outdo SNL. It didn’t. But, it was as good [and bad] as often as SNL.)

    Reply

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