Brother Wally is a sculptor and real estate and business guy. Eddie Haskell, the annoying neighbor boy, spent 18 years as a Los Angeles motorcycle officer. Lumpy's a financial planner. Mom's doing fine. And there's the update on the characters from "Leave It to Beaver," a family situation comedy that bridged the 1950s and '60s. People know the characters by their show names, so why start using their real names now?
And the Beaver. The Beaver...OK, let's use HIS real name anyway...was in Raleigh last week, working as a spokesman for PhRMA, the drug industry trade association, which was announcing new developments in diabetes drugs. Jerry Mathers, the Beaver, has Type II diabetes. The disease is now virtually epidemic in the United States, which is why medical associations (and likely your own family doctors) are talking more about it. Kids are eating their way into it. Some adults who have it, including yours truly, may have had a family member with diabetes and thus had a better chance of getting it, particularly if they also developed bad eating habits.
A column last week talked about Mathers' role in promoting diabetes awareness, but didn't include his thoughts on modern television. To briefly come up to speed, Mathers is 60, and is enjoying life, continuing to act, and financially secure thanks to good management of his Beaver money and a sound university education followed by prudent business ventures.
I had a chance to spend some time talking to him before he attended a press conference about the new diabetes drugs. When I asked him what he thought of today's television offerings, he nodded his head in the negative. "I don't watch television," he said. "Reality TV? It's distorted. What kind of message does that send?"
He thinks his old show still is relevant because, "You can watch it with the whole family. It's still on, everywhere."
These are things Mathers has talked about all over the place. He's a frequent guest on TV shows about TV shows. And, like most of the actors from the 1950s and '60s (and '70s and '80s for that matter) he's not much for what's on the old tube these days.
My colleague Brooke Cain, who writes a superb blog on television for The News & Observer, likely would disagree. And truth is, there's some very interesting entertainment out there, as long as folks look at it as entertainment and not as a guide to life.
Still, the Beaver must have been doing something right. People still love that show. My friend Jayne, who was raised in a large family in Chicago, was mighty happy when I told her that Mathers had signed a picture for her. "We all watched that!" she said. "I've got to call my sisters!"
How many stars from the old days can get such a reaction? Not many, once you subtract Andy Griffith, who is of course the greatest star on the greatest show in the history of the medium. Make that in the history of world. Of the universe. Of the...say, anybody know what comes after universe?