“He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father,” his son, Eric, said in a statement. “He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be very missed.”
The Beaver himself, Jerry Mathers, said in a Twitter post that his friend of 63 years “was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character that he so briliantly [sic] portrayed.”
The impact of Osmond’s most famous performance can be measured by the fact that, for those of us of a certain age, if someone is described as an “Eddie Haskell”-type, we know exactly what is meant.
Appropriately, tributes also poured in from across a broad spectrum. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Osmond “created a memorable character,” and Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach cited Eddie Haskell as one of his “all-time influences.”
The Haskell character was a troublemaking friend of Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow), the older brother of Theodore, aka the Beaver (Jerry Mathers). Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley played the parents of Wally and the Beav.
Rude and threatening to the younger kids — the Beaver and friends like Larry and Whitey — Eddie was pure smarm when adults entered his vicinity. “Gee, your kitchen always looks so clean,” he might say to Mrs. Cleaver, then adding a butter-wouldn’t-melt rejoinder, “My mother says it looks as though you never do any work in here.”
The actor revisited his most famous role frequently over the years in the many subsequent iterations of the show, most notably Still the Beaver, which ran from 1983-89.
Osmond also guested on such popular series as Happy Days, Lassie, Petticoat Junction and The Munsters.
The actor went on to become an LAPD cop and served for 18 years, according to the L.A. Police Museum, which remembered him with a post.
Osmond reportedly took multiple bullets in the line of duty and grew a mustache to be less-recognizable on the job.
Leave It to Beaver was not a big hit during its initial 1957-63 run. The series never made the year-end top 30 among primetime programs in the three-network era. It aired in six time slots on four different nights during its six seasons, moving from CBS to ABC after its first season. The series, though, would go on to be a syndication favorite and a generational touchstone.
In the 1970s, Osmond become the subject of a widely-circulated urban legend: That he had taken on a new persona as the rock star Alice Cooper. (Cooper, whose birth name is Vincent Furnier, would later be photographed wearing a t-shirt reading “No, I’m Not Eddie Haskell”.)
In Leave It To Beaver’s original 1957 pilot, which resurfaced three decades later, the Haskell-type character was named Frankie and was played by future SNL, The Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap actor Harry Shearer.
Erik Pedersen and Greg Evans contributed to this report.
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