Secrets of Working with Hitchcock Revealed

Former 'Leave It to Beaver' star Jerry Mathers has tales to tell about the famed director

Before Jerry Mathers found fame as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver in the wholesome sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” he was personally selected by Alfred Hitchcock to star in the 1955 dark comedy “The Trouble with Harry.”

“I arrived at the audition and at that point he had probably seen everyone in Los Angeles for the part,” the 69-year-old former child actor told Fox News.

“I walked into the interview and he seemed very nice. In fact, the first time I met him, he was sitting behind this huge desk and he had all of this food in front of him.

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“I hadn’t had lunch because my mom told me we would have some after the audition. I was looking at all of this food and he said, ‘Hello Mr. Mathers.’ I was a bit shocked. Then he said, ‘How are you doing? I’m thinking about making a movie.’ We talked for a little bit and he said, ‘We’ll be going someplace, do you like to travel?’ This guy seemed very nice!”

Hitchcock, the brooding British filmmaker who earned the nickname “the master of suspense” for his psychological thrillers such as “Psycho,” “The Birds,” and “Vertigo,” appeared friendly and approachable to then-seven-year-old Mathers.

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“I really got to know him when we went to Stowe, Vermont,” said Mathers. “Whenever we had lunch there, and we were on location 12-14 weeks, all the local women would cook us lunch for the whole crew.

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“And each would bring out their best dishes every day. And whenever we had lunch, Mr. Hitchcock was the first one to examine the dishes … I would just follow him and go, ‘Oh, was that a good one, Mr. Hitchcock?’ And he would go, ‘Yes, that’s the one I’m going to have.'”

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Mathers said he wouldn’t really consider Hitchcock a friend due to their significant age differences. However, the director somehow always made his presence known when Mathers, then nine years old, would go on to appear in “Leave It to Beaver.” That was 1957, which was two years after he launched his own series, titled “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

“[He] was about three stages down [in the same studio],” Mathers recalled. “But he only came in once a month [to] do all the intros… I would see him when I had a little free time, and he would roll in a big Rolls Royce with a chauffeur… He would go, ‘How are you doing today? How’s the show going?'”

It wouldn’t be the last time the two would cross paths in Hollywood. For the 1960 film “Psycho,” Mathers helped makeup supervisor Robert Dawn, who also worked on “Leave It to Beaver,” create the special effects for Mrs. Bates’ skull, used in the final scenes of the movie.

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“Leave It to Beaver” ran from 1957 until 1963. Mathers told Fox News in July he currently leads lectures across the country to raise awareness on Type 2 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with in 1997.

Hitchcock died at age 80 in 1980 from kidney failure.

This Fox News article is used by permission.

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(photo credit, homepage image: John Harrison, Flickr; photo credit, article image: neekoh.fi, Flickr)

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