Homer Simpson and Al Bundy topped our last-minute Father’s Day poll of TV’s Top Dads. But the guy who came next was once considered the daddest of them all.
Hugh Beaumont played ’50s middle class protodad Ward Cleaver for six seasons on Leave It To Beaver (1957-63). He was the man of the house, a total authority figure, kept June in pearls and in the kitchen and pretty much kicked somebody’s ass in every episode. But a dad, right? Somebody who was there when the going got tough and always knew best.
Or not. Several years ago, when I asked Tony Dow–who played Beav’s big brother Wally on the sitcom–about Beaumont, he looked like he just smelled something bad. Dow said Beaumont was an unpleasant fellow who never had any time for any of the child actors on the set. Holy cow, Wally. I can see him not wanting to hang around Eddie Haskell or Lumpy, but the Beav? Way to wreck someone’s cherished childhood memories.
Beaumont was an ordained Methodist minister and a seasoned actor when he landed the role of Ward Cleaver in 1957 (taking over from another actor after the pilot). He went on to direct several episodes of the series. He died in 1982 at 72.

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