Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Barbara Billingsley: America's White-Bread Mom Who Spoke "Jive"


Barbara Billingsley, who passed away on Saturday at 94, played June Cleaver on "Leave It To Beaver," which ran from 1957 to 1963. June was the cultural symbol of the postwar suburban housewife and stay-at-home mom. Whether discussing the escapades of sons Beaver (Jerry Mathers) and Wally (Tony Dow) with husband Ward (Hugh Beaumont) or serving cookies, June always wore her pearls and high heels. Billingsley played with June's image in the comedy "Airport" (1980); Michael Pollak of the New York Times writes that she portrayed “a sweet passenger who communicates in ‘jive’ with two streetwise black passengers — an ironic comment on her previous incarnation as America’s white-bread mom.” Here's the scene:

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