He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, hoping to go on to law school with the money he'd made from the show. Instead he was persuaded by a friend to become a banker, and then went into real estate and continued working as an actor. He also did a short stint, three years, as a weekend disc jockey.
Royalties for Leave It to Beaver ran out long ago, after each episode had been repeated six times, he said. But he still gets minimal royalties from later spin-offs from the show. "Just yesterday, I got a check — I forget what show it was — something in the '90s. It was 13 cents. But I have no regrets. I've done very well and I'm in fairly good shape," he said.
There have been some health bumps along the way. After Leave It to Beaver went off the air, Mathers discovered he had psoriasis and has done some events for the National Psoriasis Foundation. When he started a catering business in the late 1980s, he gained a significant amount of weight. His doctor, a personal friend, noticed the weight gain and repeatedly urged him get a physical. He resisted, saying he felt fine.
"Finally, she got me with the magic words: For Christmas I'm going to give you a free physical," he laughed. A few days later he learned his blood sugar was over 700 and he had full-blown type 2 diabetes. "My doctor asked me if I'd like to see my kids graduate from high school. She said, 'You'll be dead in a few years unless you do something about it right now.' " He lost 60 pounds and now walks or runs an hour a day on a trail near his home in Southern California.
He recently appeared in the American Academy of Neurology Foundation's patient education video and handbook, "Diabetic Nerve Pain: A Guide for Patients and Families."
Leave It to Beaver has never been off the air, Mathers said, and plays in 46 languages around the world. Nearly 20 years after the show ended, a made-for television movie, Still the Beaver, aired on CBS. That was followed by the series Still the Beaver on the Disney Channel, and later The New Leave It to Beaver show on TBS. The shows featured most of the original cast, including Mathers, who played a divorced, out-of-work dad.
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