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June Evelyn Bronson Cleaver is a fictional character in the Americanmarker television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. June and her husband, Ward, are often invoked as the archetypal suburban parents of the 1950s. The couple are the parents of two sons, Wally and "Beaver". Wally is twelve years old and in the eighth grade when the series opens; Beaver is seven years old ("almost eight") and in the second grade. Episodes followed the escapades of Wally and Beaver, and usually ended with the boys receiving both a moral lecture from their father regarding their misbehavior and a hot, nutritious dinner from their mother.

June is played by Barbara Billingsley in both the pilot, "It's a Small World" (which aired in April 1957 on Studio '57), and in the original television series. Billingsley also plays the character in the show's television reunion movie, Still the Beaver (1983), and the show's sequel series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985—1989). In the sequel series, Wally and Beaver are both parents, and June is a grandmother. Janine Turner played June in the 1997 spin-off film adaptation of the original series, Leave It to Beaver. Billingsley made a cameo appearance in the spin-off film as Aunt Martha.

Character overview

Early life

June's birthplace and the scenes of her early years cannot be determined with exactness but most signs in the show point to Mayfield and its environs. June attended boarding school as a youngster and was captain of the school's basketball team. At one point in her young years, she was a student of Cornelia Rayburn, the principal of Beaver's school. June mentions her father occasionally. Apparently, he was a practical man, for, according to June, he discouraged her as a child from buying an opal ring in a jewelry store window and urged her instead to spend her money on a pair of galoshes.

Marriage

As a teen, June knew and dated Ward Cleaver, a farmer's son. Ward lived in nearby Shaker Heights. The two attended State college together. June kept her maiden name, Bronson, as one of her middle names after marrying Ward. Ward and June have two sons, Wally and Theodore aka "Beaver". June's oldest son, Wally, is a good student and popular with everyone while young Beaver has a difficult time staying out of trouble. The Cleavers live initially at 485 Mapleton Drive and move to 211 Pine Street at the beginning of the third season.

Home life



June is dedicated to her family; her interests outside the home are social events like weddings or school events like meetings and plays. She has ladylike pastimes: needlepoint, cake decorating, and arranging tea roses. She reads glossy but high-toned, tasteful women's magazines. In one episode, she entertains the ladies in her social club only to see the event ruined by Beaver's monkey who despoils the foods on the dining table.When the boys arrive home from school, June can be found in the kitchen chopping salad vegetables, basting a roast, or icing a cake. Her kitchen is immaculate. Like most TV middle class sitcom families of the era, the Cleavers breakfast and lunch in the kitchen while their dinners are full scale affairs in the dining room.

June's taste in home furnishings tends toward British upper class traditional. The front hall in the Pine Street house is adorned with reproductions of Gainsborough's The Blue Boy and Lawrence's "Pinkie" while two fauteuils grace either side of the hall door. A Monet hangs on one wall; a Constable hangs in the living room. A wing chair in the living room is upholstered in a chinoiserie print.


June is thrilled when her sons are invited to cotillions and birthday parties but wrinkles her nose with disgust when they bring home wriggling earthworms or rain-soaked clothing. She is notorious among fans for consistently being dressed as a party hostess, even when doing her housework or relaxing around the house. She wore stylish slacks about the house in a very, very few early episodes. Many of her most attractive housefrocks were worn throughout the series' run. She wore a pearl necklace in almost every scene, even when gardening. She was described by her husband in the series as a "former belle of East St. Louismarker."

June and Ward sleep in twin beds and have a portable television set in their room. Now and then, she drives the family's Ford Fairlane if she has a specific errand. Ward occasionally dries the dishes for her; at other times, she has to goad him to do minor chores or repairs around the house. June has occasional house help in the person of Minerva and in the later episodes a Mrs. Manners, who (according to Beaver) smells like gingerbread. June does not completely trust Ward's Uncle Billy because he fills her sons' heads with fancies of irresponsible living. She often places Ward in a position where he must "explain" or apologize for his uncle. She is happily married with never a suggestion otherwise on the show.

Relatives



In one episode, June has a sister named Peggy and an infant niece. She also has a spinster aunt named Martha Bronson (Madge Kennedy), who appears in a few episodes during the course of the series' run. June credits Martha with raising her, which suggests that June may have been a motherless child. Though Martha is a sweet, kindly woman, her "old maid" mindset irks the rugged Cleaver males. During one of her visits, she makes milk toast for breakfast and eggplant for dinner. In one episode, she buys Beaver a short-pants suit and insists he wear it to school. In another episode, she presses her wish that Beaver attend a hoity-toity prep school on the east coast, far from home. Beaver was named after Martha's brother, Theodore. Martha gives Beaver Theodore's heirloom ring.

The New Leave It to Beaver

By the time the 1983 movie Still the Beaver aired on CBS, series star Hugh Beaumont had passed away. As a result, the writers and producers decided to make June a widow.

June still lives in the same home (211 Pine Street) as the original series was set. She lives in the home with her son, Beaver (now a businessman and co-owner of the Cleaver and Rutherford Co. with Lumpy Rutherford) and two grandsons, Kip and Ollie. The living arrangement began when Beaver was divorced from his wife, Kimberly, and Beaver was unemployed; it continued after Beaver found work at a business owned by Fred Rutherford and (after Fred's death) he and Lumpy formed their partnership.

June is a member of the Mayfield City Council.

June has four grandchildren; in addition to Beaver's sons, Wally (an attorney) and his wife, Mary Ellen, have two children: Kelly (11 in 1985) and baby Kevin. Kevin was born in 1986 and age-advanced to 3 years old. Wally and his family live next door to his mother.

In Popular Culture

  • In the Full House episode, "Joey's Place", Jesse goes into a tantrum on Danny because Danny came home late, causing Jesse's chicken tetrazzini to dry out. Jesse tells Danny angrily all the stuff he (Jesse) did all day, such as cleaning, laundry, taking the kids places they needed to go, and cooking. Jesse, realizing, then says, "Oh, my God. What's happening to me? I'm turning into June Cleaver."


  • In the 2004 film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights a character comments "Oh my god, June Cleaver is in Havana." referring to the protagonist's conservative mode of dress for a summer poolside gathering.


References

  • Applebaum, Irwyn. The World According to Beaver. TV Books, 1984, 1998. (ISBN 1575000520).
  • Bank, Frank. Call Me Lumpy: my Leave It To Beaver days and other wild Hollywood life . Addax, 2002. (ISBN 1886110298), (ISBN 978-1886110298).
  • Brooks, Tim and Earl Marsh, "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 9th Ed." Ballantine Books, Random House, New York City, New Yorkmarker, 2007. (ISBN 0-34549-773-2).
  • Colella, Jennifer. The Leave It to Beaver Guide to Life: wholesome wisdom from the Cleavers! Running Press, 2006. (ISBN 0762427736), (ISBN 9780762427734).
  • Leave It to Beaver: the complete first season. Universal Studios, 2005.
  • Leave It to Beaver: the complete second season. Universal Studios, 2006. (ISBN 1417074876)
  • Mathers, Jerry. ...And Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver". Berkley Boulevard Books, 1998. (ISBN 0425163709)
  • Terrace, Vincent, "Television Character and Story Facts: Over 110,000 Details From 1,008 Shows, 1945-1992," McFarland & Co. Inc., Jefferson, North Carolinamarker, 1993. (ISBN 0-89950-891-X).


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