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Jerry Mathers

Leave It to Beaver premiered 54 years ago

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.

Next page: What's the cast up to now? »

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